A new cafe set to open this Saturday, July 8 on the corner of 30th Street and Lincoln Avenue will spotlight Vietnamese coffee brewed according to traditional methods. Saigon Coffee founder Tu Duong moved to San Diego in 2010 and tells Eater it was hard to find the kind of old-fashioned Vietnamese iced coffee that her mom would make for her while she was living in southern Vietnam.
So Duong started replicating the drink at home with coffee beans from Vietnam, sharing it with friends, and ultimately launching a stall at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market in 2012. In the decade since. Saigon Coffee has become a popular vendor at several local markets.
Though she will continue to have a presence at the Hillcrest market on Sundays and the Poway market on Saturdays, Duong is focusing on the North Park storefront, which will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Operated with her brother and business partner Vinh, the cafe will brew its Vietnamese coffee through a classic phin filter — a cross between a French press and a pour-over — that produces a bold and concentrated coffee. The brewing tool, which typically sits on top of a mug or glass and makes a single serving of coffee, will be utilized on a larger scale at Saigon Coffee where a glassed-in brewing room will house up to 20 phin filters that are about 50 times bigger than the standard size. Duong says the slow-brew drip method takes about four hours per batch.
She may serve some Vietnamese street food in the future, like coconut and pandan waffles, but for now, the menu is all about coffee. In addition to her condensed milk-sweetened signature Original Saigon Coffee, Duong will offer a coffee blended with coconut milk and a version of trendy egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty, which enriches the coffee with whisked pasteurized egg yolks.