Vietnam Coffee Republic is part of a small, but growing band of speciality coffee shops in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. Like the nearby The Workshop Coffee and Shin Coffee, Vietnam Coffee Republic is a roaster as well as a coffee shop. There’s a second branch, the VCR Bar & Showroom, just around the corner, which is where all the roasting takes place.
On a narrow alley off a main street, Vietnam Coffee Republic is a modest-looking spot, with a small, sheltered outside seating area. However, it’s far bigger than it looks. Long and thin, there’s a seating area at the back and a second seating area upstairs at the front.
When it comes to the coffee, Vietnam Coffee Republic mostly serves blends, with four principle blends containing varying ratios of Robusta and Arabica beans, all grown in Vietnam. They are also available to buy, while if you are drinking in, they are available as espresso or filter, where they’re joined by a single-origin. Options include V60, Aeropress, cafetiere and syphon, plus traditional Vietnamese filter coffee. If you’re hungry, there’s a salad bar, with a range of tasty salads on offer, all made at a second counter upstairs.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
On a narrow backstreet in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Coffee Republic is not somewhere I would have come across if left to my own devices. Even then, if I had wandered by, there’s every chance that I would have missed it, so I’m doubly grateful for the recommendation that I received on twitter from Sarah Grant.
Long and thin, the entrance to Vietnam Coffee Republic is set back from the street. It’s as if someone had taken the front wall, knocked it out, and replaced it with glass wall a few metres further back. The result is a small, recessed and, above all, sheltered, outdoor seating area. I say outdoor, but it has three walls and a ceiling.
There’s not much seating in here, but what there is is to the left, where there are three tables, one against the left-hand wall and the other two in the middle, one at the front and the other at the back. Finally, against the right-hand wall, is a three-person bar.
The back of the seating area is effectively one large window set into a shallow arch, with the door on the right. This leads into the front half of Vietnam Coffee Republic, which is occupied by the counter on the left-hand side, while there’s a standing-room only bar in the centre, running from front to back. Finally, against the right-hand wall, there’s a single, long retail shelf.
Beyond the counter, on the left-hand side, is a motorbike, followed by a half-spiral concrete staircase. This heads upstairs and effectively splits the downstairs space into front and back. In the back, beyond the stairs, is more seating. There’s a pair of high, two-person tables on the right and a 10-person communal table on the left with a padded bench against the left-hand wall. Right at the back, a half-flight of stairs leads to a mezzanine office with the toilet underneath.
Upstairs, Vietnam Coffee Republic runs from the stairs to the front of the building. There’s a counter on the right, where the salads are prepared, followed by a small seating area. This consists of a two-person table against the left-hand wall and a communal table on the right. Perhaps the best seats in the house are right at the front, so long as you can stand the humidity. Behind sliding doors, a narrow balcony overlooks the street with space for a pair of two-person tables.
Vietnam Coffee Republic has very little natural light, despite the generous windows at the front, largely because of the narrowness of the street. However, plenty of artificial light gives it a warm, cosy glow, helped by whitewashed walls and ceilings. It’s also worth noting that downstairs has full air-conditioning, which is lacking upstairs, where it’s significantly warmer and more humid.
I had the daily special, a Typica varietal from Vietnam’s Dalat region as a V60. This had the same earthy taste as the Vietnamese single-origin I had in The Workshop Coffee, although less pronounced. A much cleaner, more subtle coffee, it looked like red wine in the glass. I took my time over this one, letting it slowly go cold, enjoying it just as much cold as I did when it was warm. I also had a garden salad for dinner, which was really tasty.
|8A/7B2 THÁI VAN LUNG • QUAN 1 • HO CHI MINH CITY • VIETNAM|
|https://republic.coffee/||+84 91 166 00 99|
|Monday||07:00 – 22:00||Roaster||Vietnam Coffee Republic (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 22:00||Seating||Tables, Tables + Bar (outside)|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 22:00||Food||Salad Bar|
|Thursday||07:00 – 22:00||Service||Order at counter.|
|Friday||07:00 – 22:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||07:00 – 22:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 22:00||Power||Limited|
|Chain||Local||Visits||9th June 2017|
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