The Workshop in Saigon, the coffee experience!

The Workshop is a new café in town, only few months old, but already very busy!

The reason why? Their coffee. This is what they do best and this is the main reason people come for. The Workshop produces it, transports it, roasts it, brews it, prepares it and drinks it (to make sure the preparation is well done). The place looks also very nice, it is one of these cool spots in Saigon where you like to go. Very similar to L’Usine in some ways, but definitely less busy. People come here to meet friends, do business, organise events, work, or simply drink a nice cup of coffee.

With a group of bloggers, we had the opportunity to meet Dung, the owner of the place, a coffee enthusiast as well! During an hour or so, we got to learn the various and surprising techniques of making coffee, the different types of coffee, the coffee roasting process, and of course, to try the coffee ourself.

I drink coffee myself, and I have to admit that until that day, I didn’t know a thing about it. Vietnam is a big producer of coffee, and around 99% of the coffee produced is Robusta, a less tasty but very concentrated and cheaper coffee. Arabica, on the other side, is less concentrated and can be drunk all day (well, there is still a limit). 70% of The Workshop coffee is from Vietnam, but they also prepare other kind of coffee like Ethiopia for example.

Roasting method was also very interesting, it helps the beans to lose their acidity. The roast-master knows all the techniques from beans used for an espresso or beans used for a latte. Totally different according to him.  The Workshop has their own roasting machine and roast-master that comes from Dalat every week to prepare and roast the beans. They make sure every single cup will be enjoyable, and this is exactly what you can feel when you go there. As Dung says: ” It’s all about taking the time to drink a good coffee” 😉

Random fact: Did you know that you need 70 beans for a cup of coffee?

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Where to work as a freelancer in Saigon?

I have noticed a lot of people work as freelancers in Saigon. Me included. The reason why is probably due to the all the advantages it gives, when you don’t have to go to the office at 8am every morning for example, and when you can work from wherever you feel comfortable to work from. Or when you manage your work the way you want it to, and not have someone constently telling you what you have to do. This freedom and this way of working has a price of course, and lots of disadvantages as well, but let’s focus Today on where it is cool to work when you are a freelancer in Saigon.

First of all, I have to say that driving a scooter is the best thing ever when living in Saigon, as it gives you a total freedom! You can drive from places to places easily and manage your time according to your priorities, meeting and stuff.

Places I LOVE to go:
🔸 The fly cupcake garden in District 3: recently the place I have been the most, as it’s quiet and very nicely decorated.
🔸 The WORK Saigon: an open space usually regrouping all kind of people from startups, entrepreneur to students. This whole house, set up and imagined by 2 young creative entrepreneurs, has been transformed in a really nice cocoon for creative minds and I really love it! Moreover they now have a cantine & coffee where you can get a nice brekki or a yummy lunch.
🔸 The Workshop: one of this places that specialize in coffee making and which looks incredible. A minimalist decoration, mixing simplicity and design on the second floor of a random building in D1. Not cheap but worths a look!
🔸 L’Usine: the most famous coffee in town, mixed with a concept store based on the Urban Outfitter/All Saints style if you have been to the UK. For me, a good place to meet people and schedule meetings, but not too work, as it’s always busy and noisy.
🔸 Mekong Merchant: in D2, one of this places where you actually feel ‘at work’ and where the staff actually knows you because you come too often, ordering the same coffee all the time. I remembered how impressed I was the first time I went there, I thought it was a very ‘exotic’ place with all this vegetation and its palm trees roof.
🔸The Loop: yummy latte! Cool atmosphere in the morning when its quiet, nice decoration and breakfast.
🔸Cucuta café: so cute & cosy. Not even mentioning the angora cat wondering around…

Places that worths a try:

🔸M2C café: very quiet and nice with amazing natural juices. A bit disappointed on the food though.
🔸ID café: I did an article about this one just here.
🔸The Fig café: very nice and calm, but a bit far from home.

Okay places:

🔸Tous les jours: a bakerie that serves coffees and patisseries. AC is colder than ever.
🔸Starbuck: nice to get your favourite white latte with cream on the top, or to get a bit of a Christmas feel with a Christmas cookie latte. But definitely too big and busy. And you have to get a new wifi code every hour.

I actually have so many in my minds, but most of them, I can’t remember the name or the address and I can only direct you there.

Saigon has so many hidden cafés everywhere. Go in a random building and I am not surprise if you find a super trendy café with lounge and chill sofa, AND amazing beats in the background. Yes it is possible!

Marion xoxo

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When in Saigon…

3 months has passed since I went back to France for the summer holidays! As usual, it went so fast… I was happy being able to switch off completely from work during this month away. Of course, as soon as you come back, reality and work life hits you up again, but it was really nice and enjoyable.

A lot of things have been going on in my Vietnamese journey recently. I dropped out one of my two jobs, decided to become an entrepreneur, share more on Instagram, take some yoga classes every week, went to a beauty show in HK, got a juicer to make amazing healthy juices, be more organized, cook at home more and buy some veggies on the market, enjoy Saigon more, carry on discovering new places and café in town, do more hairstyling, get a sport routine, drink coconut water, well… all these little things that make your life better!

After these 6 crazily busy months, I have realized I didn’t have time for myself, my hobbies, sport, my lovely blog, or even for my BF. At some point, I have tested my limits. I now take some time for myself, relax, and work on my own projects. Well deserved!

There is this thing, when working in Asia, that you can work non stop if you want. Working freelance makes things even more difficult, as you work towards deadlines. You don’t have hours, and you want to do your best. As a result you find yourself working like crazy for everyone apart from yourself, as it is the only not-paid job.

On the happy side, Hong Kong was amazing. We had such a great time, switching off the Saigon underdeveloped life to HK crazy developed city! We were staying in an area called Causeway Bay, the heart of HK shopping experience! Forever 21, Aesop, Mango, Apple, Ba&sh, Uniqlo, Etude House, you lost me already…

Then there is the Peak experience, the oldest tram climbing to the top of the world with this stunning view (!!), the flowers and the birds market, all these vintage markets selling fake brands, and above all this stunning view and light show of the city. A unique (and busy) experience!

Here is a quick lapse of what we have experience in the crazy city:

Good evening Hong Kong! 🌃🌙

A post shared by Marion ➖ Founder @MaBelleBox (@frenchydiary) on

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Cosmobeauté in Saigon

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Last Week end (24-26 of April), I went to the COSMOBEAUTE VIETNAM EVENT showcasing the growth of beauty industry in Vietnam, in district 7. I was looking forward to it since months, did my pre-registration online and everything! 

Like at every beauty show, conferences and contests are organized and a lot of different stands are here to present their brand/concept/products, at least that’s what I always saw…

Sadly I was very surprised that all of them were only looking for distributors and interested in selling the more products they have at the event. The difference in culture was terrific compared to the beauty events I have been to in Europe, where brands were really there to introduce their concept and products and more than happy for people to try it. As a Blogger I felt the exhibitors were not seeing any interest in this area. And they didn’t even see the opportunity, as they were not here to give away samples and make people try their products. On the other side, they brought a very large stock of products to sell. And most of the visitors were only interested in buying the ‘new’ products, 10 or 20 of each! Personally I felt like most of the visitors were like tenants of Spa in HCMC and were filling up their stock in order to have special products to suggest to their clients. I might be wrong, but this is really the feeling I had.

Bloggers are not very well-considered in Asia, compared to Europe. People don’t really see yet the online opportunity they could have by working with a blogger and this is very interesting from a communication’s point of view…

Also, I was surprised to see brand from all Asia and very few from Vietnam (there was one or two only). I am not sure a lot of people knew about the event, but still… Again, they might not have seen the opportunity there, which is for me very shocking. Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, France, Singapore, Bulgaria and even Italy… Majority were from Korea and Taiwan.

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Let’s talk about the important things now: What are the brands that caught my attention? 

To be honest, not a lot. There wasn’t a lot of amazing and original concepts as I saw at the Cosmeeting in Paris for example. But amongst the 150 exhibitors, few of them were very interesting:

NATURE’S ORGANIC SENSE from Italy: I fall in love with their packaging, very simple and clear, but so professional and catchy. They have an interesting range of products, specialized in hair care and hair color. Products are organic and natural, and are 100% Ammonia and Parabens Free, a PLUS for me as I am very careful with the ingredients used. They have an amazing branding and I really hope to see them on the market soon. Too bad they didn’t have any samples to test, but as I said earlier, it might not have been the main point of the exhibition.

ATRUE from Korea: They had a very beautiful stand, standing out of the others because of their primary ingredient: black tea from France. This is where you see that France is playing an important role in the Cosmetics industry. Black tea as a base, replacing water in all their range. Why not? I mean their branding was nice: True Value and True Beauty from a ‘cup of the finest black tea’. Ingredients are not the safest in their list, depending on the products but they believe in True Personal Care with unique textures and outstanding benefits from the black tea. I found the concept nice, they associate a pure and qualitative ingredient to their branding, plus it gives it a touch of luxury, making people try tea and making each product special. I found that they had a very large range of products, too much. But they gave me a very nice little box with samples (and they are the only one I have to say) containing 2 bags of black tea and 3 samples of one of their product range. I have to say I am very curious to test it!

THE PLANT BASE from Korea: What I liked the most is their ingredients list: no Paraben, no Ethanol, no Silicon, no Petrolatum, no Polyethylene Glycol and no testing on animals. Wah! They have a different range of products, all based on plant base extracts instead of water base. They use a lot of different Plant Extracts like Bamboo Extracts, Centella Asiatica, Korea Ginseng Extracts, Cactus Extracts… and this is what make their different range of product. Personally I found they had too much and I couldn’t choose an adapted range for myself. Sometimes, classical cosmetics range with less than 10 products is enough, I think they had around 25 different products. I got some mini samples (you know the little pack thing that you can use only once) that I will try but not sure I will see anything on my skin as one application is, of course, not enough.

Ps: As you can see, not a lot of them are using online communication tools as they are all missing a real website. #Interestingfact

An amazing time and a great experience 🙂 For those who are interested in the Cosmetics market in Vietnam, I have created a dedicated LinkedIn group where  everyone is invited to contribute 🙂

Click here

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Homemade lipstick activity 🙂

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