Grandma's Cafe in Hem 48

Alleys of Saigon is a blog series that seeks to inspire
through the
untold stories of Vietnamese locals.


It's no secret that Saigon is overflowing with coffee shops.

The cafe scene is so vibrant and active here that it's almost expected to see a new coffee shop open, close, and be replaced all within a week's time. 

Despite the short life span looming over all these new minimalistic and hipster cafes, there is one that has survived and grown to be a favorite of the local's for the past 42 years.

Located in Hem 48 on Tran Dinh Xu is a cafe owned by a 65-years old grandma name Thanh. She's been serving up delicious vietnamese iced coffee in this hem since 1976, a year after the Vietnamese War came to an end. 

When I asked her who taught her how to make coffee, this was her response,

I’ve been making coffee in this hem since I was a young girl, maybe around your age. No one taught me how to make coffee so I had to learn how to do it by myself. It didn’t taste very good the first couple of times, but I just kept trying.

The coffee here cost a measly 17,000 VND (75 cents). If you refuse the plastics, it'll be 1,000 less! ;)

I find it very peaceful to just sit and observe the daily interactions among the locals.

They brew so much coffee everyday that it's becoming more efficient and convenient to just collect and then wash all their used phins at once.


Despite her age and the help of her older daughter, she insists on doing everything by herself. 

A cup of coffee, burned incense, and bottled sodas are used as offering every morning.