Before heading to Vietnam, I had a hunch that I would be wired the whole time. Vietnamese coffee — dark roasted beans cut by sweet, sweet condensed milk — is equal parts caffeine and sugar, and the result is a deadly cross between a sugar high and a coffee buzz.
At home, I typically have the willpower to pass on sweetened drinks, but while traveling and attempting to do as the locals do? Not so much.
I found irresistible Vietnamese coffee throughout the country, but perhaps no place charmed me as much as The Note Coffee in Hanoi. As sweet as its goods — which range from the classic Vietnamese coffee to specialties such as egg coffee and a coconut latte — are, the coffee shop is also home to a beaming staff, great Ho Hoan Kiem Lake views and some of the most feel-good decor around.
While sipping on beverages, guest socialize and keep busy with multicolored Post-it notes, which are stuck on the cafe’s walls and tables, creating a psychedelic collage-like effect. The result is a deeply Instagrammable space, but one that has not sold its soul. My partner and I inhaled our coconut lattes while smiling over notes written by folks from around the world.
While pondering what to write on my pink and blue squares of paper, I thought about how so many people — ranging from Asia to Israel — had sat where we were seated.
Feeling that sense of community, not to mention a swelling sugar-buzz, I had no problem writing a few super-sweet sentiments of my own.