Wednesday , May 29 2024

Saigon’s bamboo cup café an instant hit

A coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City has become popular for using environment-friendly bamboo cups, and sells nearly 200 of them daily.

Situated at 150/5 Ben Van Don Street, District 4, on the side of Ong Lanh Bridge, Ong (Tube) coffee shop has been drawing customers in droves in the two weeks since it opened.

On its counter is a row of cups fashioned from green bamboo. “The shop says no to plastic, and customers drink their beverages from bamboo tubes,” 27-year-old owner Nguyen Huynh said.

Huynh pours coffee into a tube, adds a grass straw and a wooden spoon, and finishes by decorating it with pandan leaves before handing it to a waiter to serve to a guest.

Anh Nguyễn Huỳnh với mô hình cà phê trong ống tre, sáng 13/12. Ảnh: Quỳnh Trần

Nguyen Huynh at the take-away corner of his coffee shop in HCMC’s District 4. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Before opening the cafe, Huynh worked in architecture. During camping trips he would often use bamboo tubes to store food and drinks. A month ago, when he quit his job to start a business with a group of friends, he immediately thought of the bamboo coffee model.

He felt that a variety of bamboo called nua (schizostachyum aciculare) was perfect as a replacement for plastic cups due to its large hollow interior.

“I had no hesitation because this type of restaurant is unique and environmentally friendly,” he said.

Besides experimenting with various coffee recipes, he went to the Central Highlands to find a source for bamboo.

He asked a farmer for bamboo segments around 16 centimeters long and five centimeters wide.

Now his shop orders more than 1,000 of them a week and runs through more than 150 tubes every day. The employees wash the bamboo with soap and water three times and dry it before using.

Huynh mentioned that it takes him nearly two hours to complete the necessary tasks, such as cleaning bamboo tubes and preparing items, before opening the shop, compared to a regular shop that typically takes only half an hour for preparation.

But the cup of coffee becomes eye-catching with the green color of the bamboo, the aroma is greater and it makes a drinker feel they care for the environment.

Ống tre tươi được sử dụng khoảng 5 lần để đảm bảo vệ sinh. Ảnh: Quỳnh Trần

A beverage is served in a bamboo tube. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Besides black coffee and milk coffee, the shop also has pineapple milk at prices ranging from VND26,000 to VND32,000 ($1.07 to $1.32). The price includes VND12,000 for the bamboo cup, which can be taken home.

In the case of takeout, the bamboo cup is secured with straps made of coconut leaves, and food wrap is used instead of a plastic lid.

Each cup is used only around five times to ensure hygiene.

Since bamboo is quite expensive, Huynh encourages people to return the tubes, and in return, they may receive complimentary drinks.

When the place is crowded, customers have to wait nearly 10 minutes to be served. There are days when the shop has to close early after running out of bamboo tubes.

Viet Cuong, 33, stopped his car and waited on the sidewalk for 15 minutes to get four cups of coffee. He said he had traveled nearly 20 kilometers from Thu Duc City because he was curious about the bamboo cafe after watching videos on social networks. He said the coffee flavor is basic but the bamboo tube looks beautiful, and he wanted to support such environment friendliness.

Ut Ly’s house is a few hundred meters away from the coffee shop. She chose to sit in the shop and try the pineapple milk coffee. She had to wait for a while because the shop was crowded that morning. The 26-year-old complimented the beverage for its enticing aroma of coffee and pandan leaves.

“The green tube looks eye-catching and has nice decoration. However, the shop is quite small, not suitable for sitting, and there is no complimentary iced drink.”

After drinking she bought two more cups to take home and said she would use them to store things or drink water.

Given the narrow road in front of the shop, visitors are advised to find parking spots elsewhere. Due to the limited space, most customers also prefer taking their drinks away.

Huynh said the shop aims to discover more sources of bamboo tubes, intending to expand and open additional branches. The shop operates daily from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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