In Short: If there is a better cup of coffee in Laos, I want to know, because each of the half dozen coffees I had at Saffron Coffee were perfect. Its setting, on the Mekong River, is idyllic and one of the best spots in Luang Prabang to start off the day or while away an afternoon.
As food and coffee lovers, there’s excitement in that next great find. We are constantly scouring social media, websites, and eagerly await new openings. Sometimes though, jumping on a plane (after a year of furious penny pinching!) is the best way to discover the next, totally beautiful, experience. Saffron Coffee was just one of those experiences that was memorable in every way. I am coming up on 100 posts on Coco and Vine, which translates to quite a few cups of coffee! Yet, I cannot recall a café that provides a “cherry-to-cup” experience, quite like Saffron Coffee does. A rare treat indeed to have a café which draws on its own crop to provide coffee lovers with coffee that has been picked from the hills surrounding Luang Prabang, roasted, ground and then presented at their café on the banks of mighty Mekong river.
Saffron Coffee’s cafe is in keeping with the charm of the Unesco Heritage listed town of Luang Prabang. There’s the traditional cafe experience with seating upstairs and downstairs at the brew bar, or one can perch themselves across the road looking over the Mekong River.
Suffice to say, I didn’t once sit in the café; I opted each time to chill out looking out onto the water as the slow boats chugged up and down the river.
Half of the Coco and Vine team have travelled with another family and as we collectively took up half the spots overlooking the river, the first of the drinks arrive at at our table. First up is a generous serving of cold drip coffee. Served with a cup full of ice, it’s reminiscent of some of the best cold drips we have had in Sydney. I loved the smoky smooth flavours that come through. There is a level of acidity, but it’s light and airy, and there’s a smooth bright finish to each sip. As with any cold drip, it changes and I love how it becomes sweeter over the time we were at Saffron.
To nibble on, the tamarind apple tartin looked too good to resist. In these parts of Asia, tamarind is readily available and it’s used subtly with this pastry treat. I loved how it worked so well with apple to cut through the richness of the buttery pastry. Speaking of the pastry, it was short and crumbly. Thin slivers of almond injected a lovely nutty flavour, with a subtle layer of spices.
In keeping with holiday bliss that was Luang Prabang, we lingered as the rays of sun become softer and warmer. I ordered up a flat white, which was excellent. Our friends appreciate good coffee and they were equally impressed. There was notes of chocolate and caramel. Milk work is outstanding, with a beautiful silky texture, that’s a hallmark of a good flat white. A flat white is rare in these parts, and to find Australia’s favourite style coffee done expertly here was fabulous.
I mentioned we had friends with us, and I convince one of them to try a piccolo. She was a touch dubious, doubting that any piccolo in Asia could match her favourite piccolos back in Sydney. I had faith in Saffron Coffee, and after a couple of sips, she conceded that this piccolo delivered the goods. Robust, punchy flavours, yet balanced with those earthy chocolate notes that I had in my flat white. A trifecta of outstanding coffees from Saffron completed a beautiful afternoon of coffee tasting.
Drinking coffee at Saffron Coffee were experiences I will always remember. Yes that’s right, I kept on coming back to the cafe on my four day stay in Luang Prabang. What makes this cafe a little bit more special is their commitment to producing their coffee sustainably, and helping local farmers get on their feet through cultivating coffee. This will be only cafe post from our travels to Laos, because it was far and away the best coffee we had in the country during our time there.