If you like your coffee served with a side of chic, you'll love the Coffee Bar in downtown Vientiane.
Housed downstairs from the Lao Derm restaurant complex across the road from Settha Palace, it's undoubtedly a beautiful space. From the black and white checkered parquet floors to the high ceilings and big windows flooding in natural light, the Coffee Bar is the lovechild of elegance and style.
Add in some seriously good coffee and some seriously cool coffee-making apparatus and you'll find the Coffee Bar a gorgeous new addition to Vientiane's popular cafe culture.
When I arrived bright and early one weekday morning, I had the place to myself. A young and enthusiastic man was behind the counter and he happily answered all my questions. Their chic interior is more than matched by a genuine passion for world-class coffee.
The Coffee Bar sources its "slow bar" coffee - drip coffee, syphon, french press and steam punk - from boutique producer, Ninety Plus. It's the coffee of choice for international barista championships, and comes from Ethiopia and Panama.
There is also Lao Arabica coffee from the owner's plantation, Green Hills, in Paksong (southern Laos), which can be served as espresso and in all the usual ways. It's blended with selective beans of changing origins but all are top quality and score highly in international reviews. Ethiopia, Panama, Colombia, Honduras, Kenya and Indonesia are all on the cards.
If you're a coffee connoisseur, the Coffee Bar is the place for you.
As you'd expect, it's also not cheap but the Coffee Bar is clearly marketed to the hi-so local crowd, with the odd falang around too.
Naturally, these slick coffees require some equally sophisticated means of production; I mentioned the word 'apparatus' before and that is certainly what they are...
How cool is this glass percolators for making a "normal" hot drip coffee?
Below is the ice drip apparatus. A jug of ice sits at the top; droplets of ice water drip down, around and into the freshly roasted and ground coffee in the glass jars and into the beakers below. This process takes a whole day.
Or have one that was prepared earlier... 24 hours earlier, to be precise.
I ordered a hot drip coffee then stood back to watch and learn. Apparently these machines are also good for making soup. Now I really want one.
Like the rest of the cool coffee apparatus at the Coffee Bar, this I-want-one contraption above is Japanese. It uses halogen light to heat the glass beaker at the bottom. It's fascinating to watch.
If you know me, you know that I'm not even a coffee drinker but I drank my tiny cup of black Kengin coffee and it was delicious - smooth and delicately flavoured.
And it went beautifully with the dense, fudgy, chocolate almond croissant that I indulged in (and then couldn't finish), supplied to the Coffee Bar from the talented bakers at Acqua restaurant.
We also tried, for comparison's sake, some Lao coffee options: a cappucino and latte. Disappointingly, both were served as rather much the exact same drink, and with the latte in a cup instead of a glass. They still passed the taste test though.
As I'm really a tea drinker, I always enjoy checking out the tea options at coffee-loving cafes. I'm pleased to report that the Coffee Bar has a few interesting brews. They use Kinnari tea, a local leaf loving artisanal company that makes its own teas using only organic Lao ingredients. My favourite is the "Sticky Rice" tea.
With such an eclectic mix of sophistication and charm, the Coffee Bar isn't simply a nice spot for a morning coffee. They also dabble in coffee cocktails and host special events such as Chinese New Year cocktails. Their cocktail night is returning permanently in April 2017, so keep an eye out!
Back on the decor front and I can't help but love these fledgling coffee plants that perch all around the Coffee Bar. Each is a different blend. They're so cute.
The Coffee Bar is located inside the new Lao Derm restaurant complex on Khounboulom Road, on the same side as, and on next block from, the playground of dodge 'em cars and ferris wheels, and the Budo Center. Settha Palace is across the road on the corner. Lao Derm is a long, double storey, white building with black metal fixtures. Parking is available.
This post was last updated March 2017.