Coffee Central

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Vietnam is an excellent place for coffee fiends. It’s good, cheap, and can be found on practically every street in the country. It’s one of the reasons Vietnam is great for travelling. Wherever you stop, you can find the necessities -guesthouses, food, bike repair, and coffee. Hot, sticky, tired after a morning on the road? Take a break at one of the many cafe võngs that line the highways.

Vietnam is the world’s second-largest exporter of coffee, and a top exporter of tea and rice. Tea and rice farming takes place all over Vietnam, but coffee has a home in the province of Đắk Lắk, with Buôn Ma Thuột as its capital. This is where I found myself on the morning of the 4th of April. I knew then that I couldn’t leave until I had found some decent coffee.

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Traditional Ede ‘longhouse’

Although Buôn Ma Thuột is the capital of the province, it feels like a town. It seems fairly quiet in terms of nightlife and entertainment. There are a lot of cafés, though. A local friend had told me about one to visit – Mehyco.

Mehyco is a brand of coffee, though it’s not often seen in the big cities. The popular brands include Trung Nguyên, which is also headquartered in Buôn Ma Thuột. I needed to try the real local stuff, though. So I went off in search of Mehyco, arm in arm with Google.

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This was not the place.

After a few wrong turns I eventually stumbled across the entrance (it’s off the main road, but Google’s location is now pretty accurate). The difficulty in finding such places in Vietnam is even famous shops are low-key. You can sit down on a tiny plastic chair in some garage-looking scene and not be sure you’re in the right place until you’re served a thing of soup or curry or coffee that blows your mind out your ears. In this case, though, you’ll know you’re there when you see the giant Mehyco coffee cup. The café is great – peaceful and decorated with topiarised trees.

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Coffee’s nice too.

All told, I had about three coffees that morning, so I was keen to get going. My next stop was Ea H’leo, the hometown of one of my friends. The weather wasn’t great. The roads were dusty and dry and it was threatening to rain the whole afternoon. The scenery was pretty but I’m sure it’s nicer at other times of the year.

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I arrived in Ea H’leo without much drama and met my friend’s sister, Thảo, who guided me to my hotel and showed me around town. She’s an English teacher there and we chatted until it was time to go to bed.

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