The coffee in Da Nang is awesome! I never drank coffee back in the States, but now hardly a day goes by without me stopping into a coffee shop. They’re everywhere. They all have Wi-Fi so I can get some work done. The coffee is cheap, so it’s a great place to meet friends. But did you know there is a right and wrong way to drink coffee in Vietnam? Here’s a quick overview of Da Nang coffee culture and a few common mistakes foreigners make when meeting a Vietnamese friend for coffee.

Da Nang Coffee Culture Faux Pas

1. Being overly differential

This one starts before you even go to the coffee shop. There’s an art to how you make an appointment, and it starts with the place and time. Many foreigners are adverse to suggesting the exact details: “Oh, I don’t know, let’s meet maybe somewhere in the city center…. Are you free on Tuesday afternoon?”

A Vietnamese person makes plans more like this: “I invite you to drink coffee. 3 pm on Tuesday at 245 Nguyen Chi Thanh. OK?” Right to the point. So next time, be bold, pick a time that suits you and a place you like. If the other person doesn’t agree, you can be sure they’ll say something.

2. Drinking too fast

Vietnamese coffee culture

Look at us with our full glasses in front of us. Seasoned pros!

If you’ve read my post on Da Nang drinking culture (or if you drink a lot of beer here), you should be familiar with the rule about always keeping something in front of you. Same is true for coffee. Think of it like an hourglass; when the coffee is gone, it’s time to go. So take your time. Baby sips is the way to go. And when you get down to the end, it’s a good idea to leave that last sip in the cup. Finishing early means you want to get out of there. It’s not the message you want to send to your friend or potential business partner.

3. Trying to pay when you’ve been ‘invited’

In Vietnamese, the word mời means invite, but it also implies you’re going to pay. If you’ve been ‘invited’, play it cool and don’t try to pick up the bill. You should know better. Of course, if you ‘invited’ them, then make sure you follow through. In fact, as a caveat to this rule, never split the check with coffee, so if you don’t know who should pay, always offer to pay for both people. Remember, paying is power, so if the other person is ‘above’ you (your boss, an older person), don’t even try.

Want to get some more insights on Vietnamese culture, and check out some cool coffee shops too? Join my Da Nang Food Tour!


Shaun grew up in Southern California eating In & Out Burger and Pedro's tacos. In 2009, he moved to Da Nang and has been digging into the local food ever since. He pays his rent by eating and drinking at Da Nang Food Tour.