Café Mollie in Uptown Phoenix celebrates Vietnamese coffee culture
Whether it’s a Sunday and you want to relax with a book and a good cup of coffee, or a day at work and you need an atmosphere that allows your creativity to flow, Cafe Mollie in Uptown Phoenix is the place to go. The recently opened cafe is tucked away at the end of a parking lot near Basil and artichoke pizza. (You will see the sign.)
According to husband and wife owners James and Victoria Hyunh, the inspiration for the plant-themed cafe came from James’ home country of Vietnam. The cafes there come in a variety of themes: modern, minimalist, tropical, and even a 1990s barbershop. They also stay open later. Faithful to this tradition, Café Mollie does not close until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.
In front of the cafe, you might notice a basket of blankets lying on the lawn. This is where you sit during open mic events, or you can bring a board game to enjoy while sipping your favorite drink.
When you step inside, two things stand out: an open, well-lit space and plants in every corner. It’s serene. Wicker and wood chairs are paired with round marble tables. One corner features a large rattan chair with a golden balloon arch with a sign that says “Serial Plant Killer”. (It’s perfect for Instagram.) Friendly staff behind the counter welcome you. Place your order, then claim your favorite corner seat. If you can’t make up your mind, follow your favorite plant.
Along with the typical lattes and mokas, the menu is peppered with Southeast Asian items: bubble waffles (including pandan waffles), calamansi ade, and boba tea. Bubble waffles look like a larger version of bubble wrap. There are the delicious sweets of Suss pastries, which come in regular and gluten-free.
You should order Vietnamese coffee (cà phê sữa đá) with a pandan waffle at least once. You will fall in love with both. It’s the perfect taste of James’ native culture.
When you order Vietnamese coffee, you receive a large glass of ice, a small glass mug with a metal filter, and two or three tablespoons of condensed milk. The coffee flows through the filter into your cup. Once the coffee is brewed, mix it well with the condensed milk and pour it into your tall glass. You will be surprised by the silky flavor.
As one client put it, “It’s an incredible outing. I am so excited that we found this place.
The Hyunhs use New Orleans’ Café du Monde coffee, which includes chicory. James says it’s the most popular coffee choice for cà phê sữa đá in the United States, and for a reason. According to Country roads magazine, there was a large influx of Vietnamese immigrants to the United States in 1975, drawn to the fishing industries of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Café du Monde hired a number of Vietnamese immigrants, who used the brand for their drip drinks. It quickly became the popular choice for Vietnamese coffee.
A pandan waffle (bánh kẹp lá dứa), a Vietnamese street food, is made by brewing aromatic pandan leaves and adding coconut flakes. The pandan imparts a sweet flavor and a green tint to the waffle. In fact, if you want an authentic experience, eat the plain waffle. It goes well with coffee.
Throughout your Café Mollie experience, James is there to answer all of your questions. It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee or plants. He has a green thumb and is a collector of rare vegetation.
“I wanted to open a cafe that isn’t Starbucks, where people run in and out,” Hyunh explains. “I want people to come and stay for a while, whether it’s for work or to meet up with friends. Plus our coffee tastes better.”
Café Mollie occasionally organizes open mic events and artistic evenings. Find more details about its Instagram page.
6031 North 16th Street, # 5
Hours: 7 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday; from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday