Central Vietnam,  Vietnam

Coffee Workshop in Hoi An at the Sữa Cafe

In Vietnam, one drink stands out above all others: Coffee. So when I found a coffee workshop in Hoi An where I could learn how to make three of the most famous Vietnamese coffees I jumped at the chance. 

At 1:30 pm I took one of the free bikes from my homestay and made my way down Lý Thường Kiệt Street to the Sữa Cafe.

Once there I was welcomed warmly with a cup of lemongrass and ginger tea. The cafe itself is full of plants and different chairs and tables. Whether you are looking to sit comfortably with a group or find a place to work, there will be a fitting space for you. There even is a climatized room, but sitting there costs extra. A good way to keep the coffee affordable while also being compensated for the extra cost of AC in my opinion.

Around 10 minutes later Thanh welcomed me and we went to the presentation room. When I asked where everyone else was he replied that I was the only one – a recurring theme during this holiday (-> see the bamboo workshop).

He began the workshop by telling me a little about his background and the history of the cafe. Thanh used to be a tour guide and coffee lover before he decided to co-found the Thanh Uyen Coffee Roastery. When I asked if they are a cafe, restaurant or a roastery, he replied they are all of those. On a map, he showed me where the two different coffees that are grown in Vietnam come from and then showed me where their coffee fields are located. 

Two kinds of coffee are grown in Vietnam, Robusta and Arabica. One is more expensive than the other because the Arabica beans need a very specific environment to grow in. Robusta is grown on most coffee fields in Vietnam.

Thanh further explained that they are working with a lot of hearing-impaired and deaf people, so almost everyone at the cafe knows sign language. Then he introduced me to my coffee teacher for the day. We chatted a bit, introduced ourselves, and then we started with the first coffee: Cà phê phin

Making coffee at the coffee workshop in Hoi An


Cà phê phin

The traditional Vietnamese coffee is Phin Coffee. It is made with a metal bowl sitting on top of a filter, you place the ground coffee in the bowl, add the sieve, fill the bowl with 80° C water until the coffee is saturated, then add boiling water and wait for it to drip down. This method produces a very strong coffee. It is usually enjoyed black, with condensed milk and/or ice. 

Cà phêPhin Coffee
Cà phê sữaPhin Coffee with condensed milk
Cà phê sữa đáPhin Coffee with condensed milk and ice

After drinking the coffee and talking about our lives and the connection to the country and to the coffee we made the second coffee: coconut coffee.

Coconut Coffee

The first time I was in Vietnam coconut coffee quickly became my favourite kind of coffee. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s icy cold and it has coffee. The perfect drink to start a hot day! (And during a hot day and to end a hot day)

I had tried making it at home and failed, I just couldn’t get the consistency right. So you can imagine my excitement about learning how to make it properly this time around.

You add three parts of ice to two parts of coconut milk to one part of condensed milk and blitz it in a blender until you have a slushy consistency (or frappe if you are more familiar with that). Then you add it to a glass and pour one ca phe phin on top. So easy (yet so hard to achieve) and so delicious. 

The last coffee we made in the coffee workshop was egg coffee.

Egg Coffee

In 2019 I had egg coffee for the first time in Ha Noi (supposedly in the cafe that served the first-ever egg coffee in 1945). While to many the idea of an egg coffee might sound odd, I didn’t think much of it. In Germany, we have Eiergrog, which is sugar and egg yolk, blended until smooth and frothy, topped with hot rum. Interestingly enough egg coffee is made in a similar way.

Egg yolk and sugar are whisked until it turns almost white. Then, pour the mix into a phin coffee and garnish it with a dash of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Egg coffee is a sweet treat and maybe not for those who enjoy their coffee black, but please don’t think of any hearty egg dish when thinking of egg coffee.

Roasting coffee at the coffee workshop in Hoi An

Once every coffee had been made, tasted and enjoyed, Thanh came back to explain the roasting process to me. He showed me how they hand-pick the beans, dividing them into bigger and smaller sizes before they enter the roasting machine. 

At the machine, Thanh explained to me what to look out for (the colour of the beans) and what to listen for (the beans cracking from the heat), then roasted a new batch of coffee to show me what he had just described. Their roasting machine is a beauty and it was mesmerizing to watch the coffee inside slowly turn darker as the familiar smell of coffee started to fill the air. 

In between roasting stages, Thanh pulled out single beans to show me how and how quickly they changed. In the middle picture above you can see the un-roasted coffee bean on the right, a light roast two beans down the line and a dark roast on the left. While we were watching the coffee getting roasted Thanh also explained that 10% of the earnings of the cafe goes to Ong Vang Charity, which supports poor children of ethnic minority groups in remote areas of the Quang Nam mountains.

Coffee Massage after the workshop

After the coffee workshop in Hoi An ended I got a foot and lower leg detox massage, which they offer at the location. You sit down looking out over the lotus pond and adjacent fields. First, you get a hot footbath with lime and lemongrass to relax your muscles.

For the massage, they use the coffee grounds from the cafe, which are an excellent exfoliant!

After almost three weeks of constantly being on my feet, it was exactly what I needed.

When the massage was over and my coffee was empty, I got a pack of ground coffee, a 70% robusta and 30% arabica mix, to take home with me.


I wholeheartedly recommend this workshop to every coffee lover and every coffee lover in your life. 

Coffee Workshop in Hoi An at the Sữa Cafe – Details

All materials and tools you need are included in the price of the workshop.

Starting times: 2 PM, but they offer different times on request

Address: 106 Lý Thường Kiệt, Sơn Phong, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

Booking: You can book via e-mail at Greet them from me if you do!

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