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Bamboo tube coffee sells nearly 200 cups per day in Ho Chi Minh City

Mr. Nguyen Huynh's coffee, District 4, is brewed in a bamboo tube using a grass straw and a wooden spoon. Each session only sells for two hours before it runs out of stock.

For nearly ten days now, on the side of Ong Lanh Bridge, a coffee shop with a frontage of more than 3 meters wide and a depth of about one meter has regularly had customers coming in and out in the morning and evening. The shop's outside decoration is simple, with a sign, and a part of the sidewalk has 5 folding tables and chairs commonly used in camping. One corner of the sidewalk is a takeaway coffee shop; the owner is Mr. Nguyen Huynh, 27 years old.

In addition to preparations, there is a row of green bamboo tubes on the counter with no plastic or glass cups. "Once the shop says no to plastic, customers will drink water from bamboo tubes," Mr Huynh said, continuously pouring coffee into the tube, inserting a grass straw, adding a wooden spoon, and decorating with pandan leaves before staff brought it to the table to serve guests.
Before opening the restaurant, Huynh worked in architecture. He often uses bamboo tubes to store food and drinks during camping trips. When he quit his job to do business with a group of friends a month ago, Huynh immediately thought of the bamboo coffee model. "I started working without any hesitation because this type of restaurant is unique and environmentally friendly," said the shop owner.

In addition to learning and tinkering with making coffee according to his recipe, Huynh went to the Central Highlands to find a source of bamboo pipes. He chose the bamboo variety because it has a large stem and hollow intestine, just enough to replace plastic cups. He asked farmers to cut bamboo into segments about 16 meters long, 5 centimetres wide and smooth branches and leaves. The shop imports more than 1,000 bamboo tubes a week, using more than 150 tubes every day. The staff grinds and washes the bamboo tube with soap and water three times and then dries it before making coffee.

"If a normal shop only takes half an hour to prepare, it takes me nearly two hours to make coffee and clean the bamboo pipes," the shop owner said. According to him, although it takes a long time, the cup of coffee becomes eye-catching with the green colour of the bamboo tube; the aroma is more fragrant and creates an environmentally friendly feeling for the drinker.

The shop's drink menu is called "ống" coffee. In addition to original coffee or added milk, pineapple milk is a signature dish, with prices ranging from 26,000 to 32,000 VND. According to the seller, the above price includes a bamboo tube of 12,000 VND, which can be drunk on the spot or taken home. Guests drinking on the spot also pay the above price because they have to add the cost of tables, chairs, cleaning, and service. In the case of takeaway, the bamboo tube will be pinned with straps made of coconut leaves, and food wrap will be used instead of the lid. 

One tube is usually reused about 5 times to ensure hygiene. Huynh encourages people to return the tubes to get more free drinks because the price of bamboo tubes is still quite high. Every day the shop sells about 150 glasses, more on weekends. Each cup takes about 4 minutes to prepare, longer than normal coffee, so customers must wait nearly 10 minutes to be served when it's crowded. There are days when the shop has to close early because there aren't enough glasses.
On the morning of December 13, Mr. Viet Cuong stopped his car and waited on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes before buying 4 cups of coffee. The 33-year-old man said he travelled nearly 20 km from Thu Duc City because he was "too curious about the bamboo pipe after watching some videos on social networks". He says the coffee flavour is basic but beautiful in the tube, and he wants to support this environmentally friendly beverage.

Her house is a few hundred meters away from the restaurant. Ut Ly chose to sit at the restaurant and try pineapple milk coffee. It also took some time to wait because the shop was quite crowded in the morning, but Ly was quite satisfied because the drink combined the aroma of coffee and pandan leaves. "The blue glass looks quite eye-catching, and the decoration is also nice. However, the shop is quite small, not suitable for sitting on the spot, and there is no iced tea included," the 26-year-old girl said. After drinking, Ly buys two more cups to take home and uses the bamboo tube to store things or drink water.

On average, Mr. Huynh sells nearly 200 glasses a day. Next time, the shop will find more sources of bamboo pipes to open more branches. The shop is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Because the road on the side of the bridge is quite narrow, visitors have to park their cars elsewhere. The space is also quite small, so most customers buy it to take away.

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