My new job has well and truly started, but I wasn’t exactly thrown in. There were two full days of induction which gave me no indication of what my day job was going to be. But it did mean I got out early on both days. I was walking back to the bus station on a beautifully sunny day with time to kill. I needed a coffee shop, and a cold drink. There’s something of a desert or relative wasteland lacking in decent coffee shops between Shaftesbury square and Great Victoria Street. All of a sudden, there shined a shiny shopfront, on the right hand side of the road.
A Vietnamese coffee shop. In Belfast. No, it wasn’t heat stroke. My eyes were not deceiving me, it was definitely a Vietnamese coffee shop. Having sampled Ca Phe Viet in Cambodia and Laos, I was more than keen to try the Belfast version. The Vietnamese Coffee Co is located opposite India Gate on Great Victoria Street, not too far from the Comic Book Guys store.
The coffee shop was opened by two brothers in May 2017, after being made redundant. They wanted to do something different and work for themselves, and began with the idea for a record store. Seeing friends in the business failing to make any money, they shifted their focus, and finally decided upon a coffee shop. With so many coffee shops in Belfast, however, they needed a niche. What didn’t Belfast have? A Vietnamese coffee shop of course.
Made with Trung Nguyen coffee and brewed in phin filters, Vietnamese coffee is served hot or iced with condensed milk. To make iced coffee, the phin is allowed to drip over a glass filled with ice cubes. It’s a little strange having hot coffee over ice cubes, but it does work.
As I mentioned before, my heart was set on a cold drink, and ordered an iced coffee. My heart sank a little when out came a container full of pre-brewed coffee. This wasn’t at all similar to my past experience of iced coffee in Asia, but it came with the explanation that, after experimentation, this was the best way to experience iced Vietnamese coffee. There was some resistance from Vietnamese customers, but I can confirm it worked well. For a moment I was transported back to Laos last summer, enjoying a refreshing iced coffee and watching the world go by. The only thing that was a little disappointing was the early closing – the cafe is open until 5 pm, which is exactly when I finish world…but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different from your iced caramel frappucino.