I’m sure there’s lots more to Hoi An than the touristy historic centre, but as we found in Safranbolu, Turkey, it can be nice just to spend all your time enjoying the feel of an old town, and we are after all tourists, at least in the locals’ eyes.
So, in Hoi An we didn’t probe what locals do for coffee and tea, especially as we found an excellent coffee shop and very interesting tea room right in the heart of the old town.
Mia Coffee is the place to go for top quality coffee in Hoi An.
After adjusting our palate to the traditional Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi and Sapa, it was rather nice to go back to cappuccino at Mia Coffee. And these guys know what they’re doing.
They source their coffee from Vietnam’s Dalat Highlands (if we’d know about that area, we’d surely have gone, because they also grow tea there); it’s Arabica beans they use, which busts the myth that Vietnamese coffee is all robusta; and they roast it on-site in the shop (though not on the two days we were in town, sadly).
This was a really excellent coffee, with no need to add sugar, though you wouldn’t know that from the amount of sugar offered to us with each cup (I guess people used to the traditional Vietnamese coffee tend to pour the sugar in to make it drinkable…).
Mia Coffee is on the edge of Hoi An’s old town, very convenient for us as we walked virtually past it on our way into town from our hotel. It has a beautiful verandah/terrace, with banana trees to shelter you from the worst of the heat, but also making for beautiful framing of the views onto the street beyond.
And they do cake! Now, some people may think that heat and humidity are not the best conditions for eating cake, but go to Mia Coffee in Hoi An and test that theory: I defy anyone to resist the home-baked carrot cake, chocolate cake or cheesecake, no matter how hot it gets.
For tea in Hoi An, we were very pleased to find Reaching Out Tea House, right on the main street in the old town, not far from the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Reaching Out is a very peaceful place to while away an afternoon. In fact silence is one of its selling points…
That started because the tea room is run by people who are hearing and speech impaired, and the silence just naturally rubs off onto the customers, most of whom sat quietly whispering while we had our tea. (Just one vociferous young German doctor, who was showing off to his juniors about his experience in remote Vietnamese communities, broke the virtual silence, but fortunately he chose to sit outside by the loos).
Reaching Out has a lovely menu of teas and coffees. You can choose one of three or go for a tasting session and try smaller portions of all of them.
For tea, there’s an oolong, a jasmine and a red herbal. For coffee, there’s a chicory-based one, a mocha blend and an Arabica.
And they have an interesting menu of sweet things, making this almost an afternoon tea, though don’t expect jam and scones; it’s more coconut rings and other similar looking sweet things.
This is a beautiful tea room, with overhead fans to keep you cool on a hot afternoon, and tables out the front if you like to people-watch over your cuppa.
We loved the visual aids for the staff, though most of the time you can get by with simple signs, and we actually didn’t need the blocks to write on.
There’s such a positive vibe to this tea room, with the people working there clearly enjoying their jobs, and an overriding feeling of serenity, brought on almost certainly by the silence. A unique experience.