Coffee in Da Nang is cheap; in a regular, no-frills coffee shop, expect to pay around 10,000 VND (about 50 cents) for a cup. Other places may charge a bit more, but you’re essentially paying for the location/ambiance, which is fine. 25K (you can do the math) is not uncommon. But rarely do you see places that offer more than one kind of coffee, and at different price tiers. Cafe Phượt (‘road trip’) is one such place. In addition to their standard cà phê sữa, you can get a variety of ‘creative’ sáng tạo coffees with the most expensive costing 54,000 VND. Fifty-four thousand??? That’s ridiculous, yes, but with a description that reads something like “delicious, seductive, deep and elegant” how can you not be a little curious? I decided to take the plunge. Here’s the story my Da Nang coffee taste test.
Da Nang Coffee Taste Test
Part 1 – The Set-Up
I knew something was off from the very beginning. The waitress brought the coffee out with the filter on top, set it on the table, and… nothing happened. Why wasn’t the coffee dripping out? I gave it a minute or two, but it was filling my cup at a snail’s pace. I even tried the old ‘scrape the underside of the filter with the edge of the spoon trick’. Nothing. For 54,000 I expected the coffee to at least drip properly. I called the waitress over.
Me: My coffee has a problem. It’s not dripping out. Look, it’s taking so long, even my ice has melted.
Waitress: OK, I’ll get you some more ice. (Tries to run off.)
Me: No wait! I don’t care about the ice. This is the most expensive coffee on the menu (probably my most expensive cup of coffee in Vietnam). Why is it dripping so slowly?
Waitress: Oh, because it’s finished. (Takes filter off. There is maybe a finger’s width of coffee in the cup at this point, and a lot of hot water left in the filter.)
Me: Really? For fifty-four thousand, this is all the coffee I get?
Waitress: OK, I’ll go get you some more ice.
Me: Wait, this is ridiculous. I can finish it in one sip.
And just to make a point, I did, in one glorious, very wasteful two-and-a-half-dollar sip. How… disappointing. I expressed exactly this sentiment to the waitress.
Me: This is so disappointing. It’s not any better than the regular coffee.
Waitress: OK, I’ll go get you a regular coffee.
This time I didn’t try to stop her. Fortunately, she left the filter, which was still slowly-but-surely dripping my very expensive coffee into the lid. I decided to salvage what I could and poured it back into my cup.
So there we were, sitting at a table made from discarded motorbike rims (per the coffee shop’s theme), with not one but two cups of coffee in front of me, which a price difference of more than 40,000. What a unique opportunity for a Da Nang Coffee Taste Test!
Part 2 – The Taste-off
Nose: chocolate, caramel, notes of blueberry, black currant, over-ripe fruit with piney undertones and slight acidity
Taste: thin, acidic profile with a bitter, slightly sour finish. Honestly pretty underwhelming.
Regular old cà phê sữa
Nose: not nearly as fragrant as the ‘creative’ coffee. Sweet, chocolaty aroma with notes of wet wood
Taste: rich and dark, with chocolate and honey undertones leading into a smooth, creamy finish
I don’t consider myself a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination, but considering the significant difference in price, I expected a lot more. I’ll be drinking the cheap stuff from now on.
Tried any of the fancy coffees at Cafe Phuot? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Want to conduct your own Da Nang coffee taste test? Come on a food tour!