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Laos’ capital, Vientiane, has been home to western-style cafés since the 1990s and the choice is ever-growing. Whether you’re looking for specialty roasters, excellent food or a comfy place to camp out with wi-fi, there’s somewhere for you on this list.
Common Grounds is a great place for both families and business people. With a kids play area in the back, families can enjoy a meal and chat while keeping the little ones entertained. Upstairs is a private meeting room perfect for presentations or brainstorming sessions. The coffee is strong, and the menu is fantastic – featuring tacos and quesadillas, wraps, sandwiches and salads. Almost everything can be made vegetarian and they have gluten free items as well. With renovations completed in 2015, the new space is also an art gallery with proceeds from sold works benefiting at-risk women.
Sinouk was founded in 1994 and owns all levels of production from their coffee plantation on the Bolevan Plateau to their five coffee shops in Vientiane. Stop in to buy a bag of beans or sit down for a cup of coffee or pot of tea. Sinouk has a variety of delicious baked goods as well as sandwiches. If you’re serious about honing your coffee-making skills, consider a two-day barista training course to learn how to create the perfect cup and draw latte art in foam.
JOMA BAKERY CAFÉ VTE
Joma is a popular destination among expats and travelers with two locations in Vietiane. Aside from their drinks, they serve great sandwiches, pastries, quiche, muesli, bagels and fruit shakes. It’s an excellent place to go to if you crave a taste of Western food. Joma was founded by Canadians in Laos and now has 12 stores in three countries, including Cambodia and Vietnam. They serve fair trade Lao coffee and give 10% of profits to charitable organizations. Their job training program provides service industry experience to disadvantaged people.
30 ML ESPRESSO AND BAR
Check out 30 ml for a great place to work the morning away with a macchiato or latte. They have fabulous homemade juices (try their Liver Detox) and smoothies (go for the berry) plus a menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. In the evening, the outdoor bar serves wine and drinks to sip while you enjoy a curry or noodle dish. The service is prompt and professional and the space, which opened in 2017, is sleekly designed with wood and black metal. 30 ml features coffee beans from countries around the world such as Brazil and Indonesia, as well as homegrown beans from Laos.
Benoni Café brings the elegance of European café culture to Vientiane. Attracting a mix of locals and tourists, this laidback restaurant is located by the Phimphone Market, not far from the Nam Phou Fountain. The restaurant is well-known for its delicious homemade cakes and high-quality coffee, which is sourced from local coffee plantations and roasted on-site. Get a traditional rice porridge or a pot of tea and baked goods. Benoni caters to a wide variety of tastes.
Kung’s is Vientiane’s best kept secret. Located at the end of an alleyway near Wat Si Muang, the outdoor establishment is cosy with overhead trellises filled with plants and hanging gourds. Don’t be surprised if a motorbike drives between the tables while you are sipping on your coconut coffee (you’ll want to go ahead and order a second, they’re that good) and savoring a sticky rice mango pancake. The bathroom contains a garden that feels like a place gnomes and fairies would live in. While the service is Lao-style slow, the food and ambiance are so fabulous you won’t mind the wait.
LE TRIO COFFEE
If you’re looking for the best coffee in Vientiane, look no further than Le Trio. The first ’boutique roaster’ in Vientiane, they source ethical beans from local Lao producers and use only Robusta and Arabica beans, using a magnificent German roasting machine to make their coffee. You won’t find any food on the menu at Le Trio, nor will you find any other drinks apart from coffee, showing how much their brew stands up for itself. You’ll find other coffee shops in Laos buy coffee beans from Le Trio to make their own coffee, showing just how powerful their blend is.
You’ll find the True Coffee shop on Singha Road. This little café serves up good Lao coffee and a small food menu. The service is friendly and fast, and most staff speak fairly good English. True Coffee has a good amount of seating, with some lower, comfortable chairs if you’re staying for a while. There are newspapers available to peruse. The cafe offers decent, stable wi-fi, great service and excellent coffee.
The Scandinavian Bakery is one of the oldest coffee shops in Vientiane. At this little café you can enjoy a good pastry or small lunch with an all-important strong cup of coffee. Prices are very reasonable, with a standard coffee costing less than $2 USD. If you’re not looking for that caffeine kick, try their hot or iced hot chocolate. The Bakery itself has a few small tables but you can also take your pastries to go and sit around the newly renovated Nam Phou Fountain just outside. There is also a balcony upstairs if you wish to enjoy your coffee in the sun. The Bakery has a relaxed atmosphere and the best donuts in town.
Begonia Cafe is not the easiest place to find, situated at the end of a dusty dirt track. The location fits with the general ambiance of the café; a cosy jumble of antiques and random decor, including an antique record player. The coffee at Begonia is great too, freshly roasted using an Italian roasting machine, with beans from Luang Prabang. The café has a small food selection, from cake with your coffee, to some smaller Lao and Asian-inspired lunch dishes. You’ll also find a good wi-fi service in Begonia, if you’re looking for somewhere relaxing to do your work.