Known as the Mecca of coffee and highly recommended by many local Vietnamese blog writers, Café Mai is a local, special coffee shop selling a quite a variety of coffee in both Robusta and Arabica species. The coffee served in this cafe is not the usual Italian style latte, espresso or cappuccino but rather the strong Robusta Vietnamese coffee in the drip style, because when in Hanoi one must learn to be patient and never rush.
Café Mai is one of the first cafés opened in Hanoi, in 1936, and it is also one of the very few Hanoi coffee shops where coffee beans are roasted right on the spot so guest can witness the process. The nice scent of good coffee can be smelled from miles away. Among all the kinds of coffee sold here, one cannot ignore the Paris Mai, one of the most expensive coffees in Vietnam. It is actually known under a more common name as Weasel coffee or Kopi Luwak. The exotic coffee beans are eaten by the local civet cats where they are then passed through the digestive system, resulting in a distinctive coffee flavor.
If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, do not forget to check out one of the 4 outlets of Café Mai, order a cup of coffee and learn how to linger: sitting, waiting, watching the coffee brew right over your own glass. The whole process takes about 10 minutes, and the resulting drink is so sweet that you will find it overwhelming. The shop also sells beautifully wrapped packages of Vietnamese coffee that you can bring back home as gifts for family and friends.