“The idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss” — J.K. Rowling

 

Sometimes it feels like cafes are a dime a dozen in Ho Chi Minh City — when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. It’s hard to differentiate. Some copy the concept of already established brands, others are simple affairs. Yet it’s not always like this — there are a growing number of exceptions. And I was able to visit one that stood out in its style. An up-and-coming franchise, Urban Station entices its customers with vibrant colours and inexpensive prices.

 

Before you even walk in, the first thing you see is the bright red, London-style telephone door. As you cross the threshold, the word that comes to mind is ‘cosy’ — the architecture certainly reflects that. Imagine what a quaint subway or underground station might look like if it were half as small and painted electric blue.

 

The white tables and chairs have a metallic sheen to them and the sides of the main room are curved, forming a comfortable cubby that makes you want to curl up with a book and a blanket. The theme is modern without being lifeless and certainly has a refreshing style. J.K. Rowling may even be happy here.

 

A Specific Market

 

The clientele at the time were mostly older office workers, but Brenda, who’s from the UK, and who bought the franchise last July, says the target demographic are teens.

 

When asked why teenagers would rather come here than elsewhere, Brenda says, “We have drinks like other places... the prices are good, the location is comfortable. It’s not as ‘intimidating’ as, say, Coffee Bean.”

 

The more expensive cafes can certainly be ‘intimidating’, given that some drinks go for as much as VND100,000, something the average teenager might struggle with. Yet at Urban Station costs are more reasonable, as the most you’ll pay for a drink is VND35,000. The drink list is extensive, ranging from ice blends, to espressos, even Italian soda and sorbets.

 

The particular Urban Station I visited, one of 15 in Ho Chi Minh City, was a little hard to find. But that lends itself to its charm. A little gem nestled in the rough. — Thiago Nunes

 

Urban Station Coffee is all over, go to urbanstation.com.vn to find one close

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