Special “Vot” Coffee in Saigon
There is more than one way to make coffee. Brewing coffee by coffee machine or Phin filter are well-known in Saigon for many years. But not many people know about a very special method of brewing coffee in Saigon (former name of Ho Chi Minh city) – using a cloth strainer and a claypot (or a small steel pot). Saigon people call this coffee “Vot” which means cloth strainer in English. This kind of coffee had been very popular since coffee appeared in the city and locals didn’t know about Phin filter or coffee machine. Maybe it’s strange to young people but “Vot” coffee had been an important part in Saigon in the past. In modern life, coffee shops from luxury to cheap are everywhere in Ho Chi Minh city. There are only a few “Vot” coffee shops exist in hidden and quiet corners where people come to find taste of the past.
To make a cup of coffee, the roasted coffee powder is put into the cloth strainer and cooked in the claypot on medium fire of charcoal in a while. It’s simple but not easy to make a perfect coffee. The heat shouldn’t be too high because the coffee will be sour. The shouldn’t be low because the coffee will be cold. The maker must stir the powder continuously while cooking to make the best coffee. After being cooking well, the coffee is kept warm in another pot on charcoal to serve hot coffee or poured into a pot to make iced coffee. The ready “Vot” coffee is always smelling and tasty.
Am Phu Coffee Shop – Hell Coffee Shop
The over half-century-old coffee shop is located in a small house in the alley of 330 Phan Dinh Phung street, District Phu Nhuan. The owners are Mr. Con (80 years old) and Mrs. Tuyet (75 years old). Although Mr. Con is old but he doesn’t want to retire because of loving to make coffee for his familiar customers. Mr. Con told us that the coffee shop opened by his father who taught him how to make a fantastic coffee using cloth strainer and steel pot. According to Mr. Con, fire plays an important role in brewing his coffee. All of steps mustn’t be missed to make the unique “Vot” coffee.
The coffee shop is old and simple with coffee stall, wooden table and plastic chairs along the narrow alley way. The shop is crowded during the day with all kinds of people from officers to workers, from young people to old people. The atmosphere at the coffee shop is always warm and close. One of highlights of Am Phu Coffee Shop is that it never closes so that the shop is also called Hell Coffee Shop. It’s the most crowded at 9:00 PM everyday when the small shop is full of customers sitting and waiting for their favorite coffee.
Cheo Leo Coffee Shop
Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
Cheo Leo Coffee Shop was establish in 1983 by Mr. Vinh Ngo who was a romantic man. Second generation owners – Ms. Suong and Ms. Hoa are running the business. The shop is located in the alley of 109 Nguyen Thien Thuat street, District 3 and simple with plastic chairs used as tables. It looks old and hasn’t changed for many years. In the past, Cheo Leo is one of the most famous coffee shop in Saigon where young people who loved music gathered. Until today, the shop still plays music of decades ago. When Phin coffee became popular in the city, Mr. Vinh Ngo was told to change the method of brewing coffee at the shop. Due to him, coffee made by Phin filter wasn’t delicious than “Vot” coffee so that the Cheo Leo shop with special “Vot” coffee has existed until today. Unlike the coffee at Am Phu Coffee Shop, the coffee at Cheo Leo Coffee Shop is cooked and kept warm in a claypot. The shop are open daily from 5:15 AM till 6:45 PM.
No Name Coffee Shop
Another famous “Vot” coffee in Saigon is located in the alley of 313 Tan Phuoc Street, District 11. The old simple small space of the shop and tasty coffee attract many customers coming there to just enjoy a cup of coffee. Mr. Luu Thanh Nhan – the Vietnam-Chinese owner told us that the browner cloth strainer is, the more delicious and smelling coffee. Although he is old, everyday he still makes coffee for customers carefully and quickly without skipping any steps of brewing coffee by the claypot and cloth strainer.
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