|Hot fuss: Customers enjoy drinks at a take-away cafe in Ha Noi. Although these youngsters are taking their time, the concept of on-the-go coffee has become a growing trend in the city. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
by Quynh Nhu - Trung Hieu
It isn't difficult to trace their appeal. With colourful decorations and an on-the-go aspect which fits neatly with the pace of modern life, it's easy to see why "take-away" cafes have become increasingly attractive to Ha Noi's youth - the entire concept exudes youthfulness and dynamism.
On Sunday morning we visited the Argento take-away cafe on Ha Noi's Le Thanh Tong Street.
The cafe was so crowded that many clients had to queue before they could depart with their morning fix, while others supped theirs on site.
While the cafe owners love to serve clients take-away drinks (they get the money but none of the mess), many clients choose to enjoy their coffee at the stall, lured by the decor which is typically clean, edgy and a little bit "Western".
These types of cafes have been present in Viet Nam for many years, but until recently, take-away coffee had remained relatively unpopular.
Lately, the concept has truly thrived, becoming a phenomenon that attracts customers due to its delicious beverages and professional service.
"With the stressful pace of modern life, take-away cafes have become more convenient than ever," said Nguyen Hoang Thuy, a young client.
She said that, true to its name, the take-away cafe made life easier for clients because: "When we do not have enough time to sip coffee the traditional way, we can still take the drinks away easily as they are packed in secure boxes designed to suit all types of drinks."
Compared to other cafes in Ha Noi, one of the differences at take-away cafes is that when you want to buy drinks, you have to queue, order the drinks and pay before drinking them.
In Ha Noi, popular cafes that young people often frequent include Argento, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Thanh Nien Road, Twitter Beans Coffee on Ly Thuong Kiet Street, and Passio Coffee on Lac Long Quan Street.
Linh Nhi, a young office worker and regular client at take-away cafes, said she especially liked the drinks menu that included coffee mixed with ingredients such as chocolate, strawberry syrup, mint syrup, ice cream and cookies.
"That's why drinks there are often very delicious - it's the variety of flavours," she said.
Most take-away cafes also offer fast food, while their drinks prices typically range from VND20,000-40,000 per glass, cheaper than those of other famous coffee brands.
"Popular drinks that my friends and I often sip include Passionpuccino with flavour (iced coffee with fresh milk and flavour), Cookie Cream (chocolate with ice flakes, fresh milk and cookie); Blueberry Chiller (cranberry jam, yogurt and ice cubes). Others prefer Espresso, which is for customers who love traditional black coffee prepared following the Italian style."
Nam Trung, owner of a take-away cafe on Thanh Nien Road, said: "Before opening, I had to learn and study carefully because the investment to open such a cafe is not small at all. I have also been a client, so I partly understand the psychology of young people. As a result, from employing staff right through to choosing the decoration and music, we have to consider what is most appropriate for our customers."
Hoang Anh, 25, said: "I only learned about this kind of cafe recently. Before, I used to sit in old-style cafes and when I had more free time, my friends and I would go to cafes that offer music performances.
"But I also find drinking coffee this new way very interesting and suitable for modern life. Our busy lives do not always afford people the time to sit for hours sipping coffee. Take-away coffee is an excellent solution."
Meanwhile, Thanh Huyen, a 20-year-old student at Phuong Dong University, said: "The drinks are delicious and diverse. Staff are enthusiastic and prices are acceptable. My friends and I often call at these cafes to buy drinks on the way to school."
Huyen said she was not surprised that take-away coffee had attracted a lot of fans.
"I think practicality can maintain its vitality because it has not just emerged like a trend - it comes at an acceptable price, with good quality and service. The cafe spaces are dynamic and fun, fitting the mentality of young people, since the owners of these cafes are mostly young people and easily understand what their peers are looking for."
But some clients complained that these cafes are mainly located in the city's crowded streets, meaning some had to travel a long way to buy drinks.
However, take-away coffee is not necessarily suitable for all incomes and ages, because it depends on many factors, most importantly an individual's personal coffee preferences.
Many still prefer to drink coffee in the traditional style, preserving their habit of sipping black coffee in shop. It seems the phenomenon of take away has yet to persuade everyone. — VNS