2 January 2017



Saigon: a city rich in heritage, culture, and life. Lined with restaurants, shops, and art galleries, you’ll have no problem finding something to do in the sprawling city. As eye-catching and bright as the streets are, many of Saigon’s most fascinating finds are well kept secrets tucked away in quiet alleys or on the upper floors of the old European buildings that juxtapose the motorcycle-filled streets.

Sitting at the top floor an old French building on the corner ofNgô Đức Kế Street, The Workshop is one such example of Saigon’s many hidden gems. One of hippest coffee shops and brunch joints in District 1, the sheer number of motorcycles and bicycles are a dead giveaway of the popular shop’s location. After climbing up four flights of stairs, you’ll find a welcomed respite from all the hustle and bustle of the busy intersection three stories below, and a haven for both locals and travellers looking to kick back and relax with a cup of coffee.

Airy and lofty with high ceilings and large windows, the bright and lively coffee shop is perfect place to enjoy breakfast and a cup of joe. Groups of families and friends convened over eggs benedict, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and the works. To the side of the space was a brick-lined cupping room, and in the center of the shop was a large island-shaped baristas’ counter that was busy dishing out lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos for the hungry breakfast crowd.

Now, a word about Vietnamese coffee.

The phrase Vietnamese coffee is often associated with cà phê đá, that concoction of strongly brewed black coffee with a heaping spoonful of sweetened condensed milk that we Southeast Asians are so fond of. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with that, but the Vietnamese coffee that The Workshop serves is the locally grown coffee from the highlands of Dalat. As Quynh the manager told me, 95% of coffee grown in Vietnam is the Robusta type, and the 5% of Arabica the land produced was often exported to foreign countries. Despite that, The Workshop proudly served only the best Arabica coffee Vietnam had to offer and used it liberally in all three of their house-blends. Now that’s patriotism.

Opened by an architect, a coffee producer, and a businessman two and a half years ago, The Workshop was one of the first third wave coffee shops to open in Saigon. Together, the three shareholders combined two flats on the third floor of a colonial building and revamped it into a space in which they could roast, brew, and educate the community about the coffee they drank.

When the shop first opened, the community was still very much about that Vietnamese coffee. Now, everyone seemed to gravitate towards simpler brews that allowed the drinker to enjoy all the subtle notes and nuances that the quality coffee itself had to offer. In fact, that is what The Workshop is all about: bringing quality to the people who loved to drink it.

As I made my way downstairs, I noticed a group of people making their way up with luggage in hand. The trek must have been exhausting, but I’m sure the rewards they reaped were well worth it. The third wave coffee scene has only just begun to take root in Vietnam but will surely grow and expand quickly as the country already has a long-standing relationship with the humble bean. With that being said, there’s no better place to start exploring the scene than in Saigon, and The Workshop is a great place to start could start.


Many thanks to Quynh for the kindness and hospitality. The Workshop is truly memorable and I look forward to coming back in the near future.


Address: 3/F p. q. 1, 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Ho Chi Minh City
Phone: 08 3824 6801
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8AM-9PM
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the.workshop.coffee/