In the 1900s the French colonists started building coffee plantations in the northern part of Laos. Later on, they discovered that the Bolaven Plateau in the south has a much better environment for growing coffee beans due to its mineral-rich soil and the region’s high elevation. This is how the coffee industry in Laos began and today, the country is the fifth-largest coffee exporter in the world producing over 20,000 tons of Arabica and Robusta per year. It goes without saying that cafe hunting is one of the best activities you shouldn’t miss when you go there, and in this post, I’d like to share five places worth checking out to enjoy Laos coffee.
I spotted Dada Cafe on my way to Green Box Hotel. It occupies a corner space cafe along Rue 23 Singha and Asean Street. I went there for breakfast on our last day in Vientiane. It opens as early as 7:00 in the morning and closes at 10:00 p.m. It is also a coffee roaster, inside you may buy from their good selection of coffee grounds and beans.
The baristas greeted me with a smile as I entered through the glass doors. They spoke little English, but I was able to place my orders easily by pinpointing what I liked on the menu. The place is quite spacious and well lit. There’s a bar table against the wall facing the street, a long table in the middle of the room, and a few single tables on the far left corner.
Save for a middle-aged man in business attire, there were no other customers when I came in. I ordered a latte and a croissant. The coffee was creamy but too bitter for my taste that I asked for some sugar. The croissant was flaky crumbly and soft with a hint of buttery flavor.
When my friend and I had accidentally discovered Ban Anou Night Market while trying to get to Vientiane Night Market, we passed by a hostel called Barn 1920s. On the ground floor of this small hostel is a vintage-themed coffee place called, 1920s Cafe. The place stood out with its dark green doors and windows and cream-colored painted walls.
The colonial interior design gives off a nice nostalgic ambiance. I loved everything, from the dark stained furniture, antique decors, art deco paintings, to the baristas dressed in what looked like old school uniforms.
I’ve ordered a flat white and a cheesecake. I remember loving the coffee cup because of the indentation on the side like somebody pressed a thumb into it while it was being molded. The coffee itself was just okay, nothing remarkable. The cake, however, was really good; soft, not sweet, and has a hint of a burnt taste.
In our last night in Vientiane, my friend and I went to Cafe Sinouk, a corner cafe along the Mekong riverside. This café-bistro has Parisian-style interiors, with plush cushioned seats and a terrace on the second floor. Their menu is extensive offering Thai, Laos, and European cuisines.
Champalao Bungalows Cafe
My friends and I discovered this cafe while we were walking down the town. It’s the in-house cafe of this Vang Vieng bed and breakfast called, Champalao Bungalows. The walls built with planks of wood were covered with vines. Through the casement windows, I saw a red hammock hanging inside. Curious, we entered through the single door and found an empty cafe.
As we wondered if the cafe was even opened, a thin man with a mustache and shoulder-length hair suddenly appeared from the other side of the room. We asked him if they were open to accepting customers, he said yes. After placing our orders, we waited at the alfresco area in the back part of the cafe. There lay one of the best views we’ve ever seen in Vang Vieng.
This cafe is my favorite on this list for two reasons; it has the best ambiance, second, it has the best-tasting coffee. I enjoyed a small cup of mocha latte and I remember it having this rich taste of espresso with a subtle chocolate flavor, topped with velvety creamy foam.
Iced coffee from a street kiosk
It has no name but it’s worth mentioning this coffee kiosk that I found on the side of the street. A bag of iced coffee is only 40,000 kip and I say bag because they use a big plastic bag for it as shown in the photo below. More than the size of the bag, I was more surprised at how good it tastes, yet it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
I wish I had more time to explore more cafes during this trip, but given the short time that we had, I was pretty happy that I got to try more than enough to make this post. There are plenty of options in Laos and even if you are not a coffee person, I think it’s still worth visiting at least one of them as coffee is a big part of the Lao culture.