Saigon's five best places to work and drink coffee

By Calvin Godfrey, Thanh Nien News

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Freelancing in Saigon requires a perfect balance of caffeine, quiet and things to keep you busy when you're trying not to work. Here's a list of the best work-oriented coffee shops in the city in no particular order.

 

WORKSHOP
This roastery and specialty coffee shop has packed its copper brew bar since it opened in 2013. The open room now features a rentable meeting room and several communal slabs of wood. Due to its high windows and thin roof, it remains the coolest spot in town to watch a storm.
If you like to work in silence—there are a few tables back by the refrigerator.
Cafe sounds aside, the coffee at Workshop may prove a bit too good. If you're not careful, you may find yourself wired at closing time, having blown an entire afternoon and a day's wage on shots of single-origin espresso and pour-over Laotian beans.
For the extremely caffeinated, the place offers a long counter at which you may stand and work at the same time. Should you require something other than coffee, consider the English Breakfast—a delicious platter of fried protein for just VND120,000.
27 Ngo Duc Ke, District 1
 
[a] CAFE
When artist and photographer Nguyen Thanh Truc opened [a] Cafe in his home a couple years ago, it was all couches, cigarette smoke and Lou Reed music—a nice place to either zone out.
A recent refurbishment filled the downstairs with upright chairs and long flat tables.
The upstairs maintained a loungier vibe.
While this place draws in the occasional worker, it avoids feeling overly bussiness-like.
The counter is equally packed with jars of small lot beans and a million different ways to drink them.
Start with a cool cup of slow-drip cà phê ừ lạnh--refreshing brain fuel for a reasonable price.
Should you need a break from all the coolness, step outside to hit the epic bánh mì bảy hồ (Seven Tigers Sandwich) which opens right around the corner, every afternoon.
Also keep a lookout for Cô Xương, who serves the best đậu hũ nước dường gừng in town from her shoulder-mounted restaurant.
15 Huynh Khuong Ninh, District 1
  
UCC COFFEE
If you require a more cloistered atmosphere to get work done, look no further than UCC Coffee.
After weeks spent navigating the ass-punishing furniture favored by many of the city's busier work-oriented cafe, UCC feels like an interactive museum of commodious chairs.
Though I've never met the manager, I assume she spent some time managing a library. The shop's J-pop soundtrack plays at elevator volume and its few shelves contain a small collection of 19th century English classics.
Nicholas Nickelby, anyone?
For VND50,000, the girls at the Ueshema Coffee Company brew a clean cup of strong, slightly bitter Joe on a series of siphons at the front of the house and press a mean waffle for just over a dollar.
106 Nguyen Trai, District 1
 
WORK
This list would be remiss not to include Work—the city's sole coffee shop dedicated to the original sin.
Situated in an old villa off Dien Bien Phu street, this slick co-working space has evolved a lot since it first opened.
The upstairs is now the sole jurisdiction of a handful of resident companies, but the sprawling downstairs remains a generous resource for those in need of a cappuccino and a place to plug in.
While an air of focused ambition keeps the indoor atmosphere to a tense quiet, they've added a tidy outdoor patio space.
Inexplicably, no one seems to use the free swimming pool.
Pool parties aside, Work remains a great place to hang out. Its menu is replete with plenty of fresh healthy options--and cookies.
Things can get a little too quiet in the main room. But Boss, the dog, always manages to throw a welcome wrench into the works.
267 Dien Bien Phu, District 3
 
NEST
What will life be like when humanity's best and brightest are recruited onto space stations that are owned and operated by mega-corporations?
Nest by AIA suggests it will be just fine.
There will be pour-over Ethiopian coffee and fizzy juice cocktails. You will be matcha granola. And a tasting menu of sweets.
The temperature will feel perfect all the time while floor-to-ceiling windows will provide whatever nutrients you require to keep toiling through the day.
Tucked just below the food court in Bitexco tower, this insurance company-backed cafe feels is replete with big communal desks at which to get things done.
That said, a table full of people getting things done doesn't always make for the best atmosphere in which to get things done.
If the sound of someone earnestly interviewing for a spot on the marketing team at Sprite prevents you from, say, writing a clever listicle on your favorite coffee shops, consider to the pointy bean bags in the far corner--always the quietest seats in the house.
Bitexco Tower 2 Hai Trieu District 1

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