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table of contents

01. Introduction 02. Inspiration 03. Beginning Stages 04. Digital Stage

05. Text Examples 06. Point Sizes 07. Display / Paragraph 08. Diacritic Marks 09. Anatomy 10. Alphabet / Symbols


Cà Phê is a typeface that portrays the feeling of when you take your first sip of Vietnam’s famous traditional iced coffee with milk. The taste of the finely dark roasted coffee is beautifully balanced with the sweetness of the condensed milk, just like the spontaneity of the font is in perfect harmony with its effective use. The angled counters in the letters and exaggerated curves are what makes this typeface exclusive. The Vietnamese alphabet is comprised of twenty-two letters compared to the American’s twenty-six letters. But with the combinations of the nine accent marks that accompanies the letters, the alphabet can total up to eighty-eight letters. The alphabet is based on the Latin script with additional diacritics for tones and certain vowels and consonants.

i n s p i ra t i o n

Cà Phê’s inspiration is taken from two fonts: Futura and Din. The rounded forms of Futura makes up the fun and quirky side of Cà Phê, and Din’s clean and technical form enlivens in the legible structure of Cà Phê.

“Hello. Care to join

me for a cup of coffee?”

“Sure, I would love to!”

left : this page :

Futura Typeface DIN typeface Scott F. (photo)

b e g i n n in g sta g e s

The idea of creating a font that captures the essence of Vietnamese’s iced coffee was challenging at first. The iced coffee is strong to stand on its own, but there is also the sweet side of it where it is mixed with the condensed milk to counterbalance the bitterness. One must find the equilibrium between the two in order to create the font. As a result, the exaggerated curved forms and straight angular lines of Cà Phê was born.

The lowercase alphabet was created first to capture and understand the essence of the font. Several counters of lowercase letters were drawn until one was decided.

The second hand drawn phase dealt with the capital alphabet of CĂ PhĂŞ. This was another challenge set because it was difficult to establish a set of fonts that would look reasonable with exaggerated curves. The first round of sketches did not meet the expectations because they were considered too rigid and too similar to the DIN typeface. It was important to create various versions of the same letter or number to allow more choices and ideas on paper. At the end, the one that was chosen to be converted into digital must fit with the rest of the family.

d i g i ta l sta g e s

After settling with the exaggerated curved forms as the unique distinction of the letters, finding the perfect way to integrate them in the letterforms without having it look overdone was a challenge.

A few variations of Xs were drawn, some including the curving feature, however, the straight angular strokes prevailed.

Note that the spine of the letter S should be moved higher, so that the negative space at the top is uneven with the bottom space. Having a high x-height is another one of Cà Phê’s unique features.

The tail on the G and Q was first set to be similar, but after using it in the HAMBURGEFONTSIV text sample, the tail of the G stood out, so some alterations were made so it would smoothly blend in.

The digital stage was where the traits and structure of CĂ PhĂŞ developed fittingly. After a few critiques and minor tweaking, the decision in making the rounding curves as a unique part of the font was settled.

122 PT

140 PT

160 PT

84 PT

130 PT

38 PT

72 PT

80 PT

67 PT

43 PT

60 PT

20 PT

63 PT

80 PT

60 PT

26 PT

12 PT

d i s p l a y tex t

paragraph text

Cà Phê is preferably used as a display font, but can also be easily used in paragraph form. This fun and playful font can be viewed as large as billboard advertisements or as small as children’s books. The choice is yours!

diacritic marks

Diacritic marks were added to the alphabet during the lowercase alphabet stage. These are only to be used on vowels and the letter D. The Vietnamese alphabet is the only alphabet that uses two diacritic marks, which makes it easily recognizable and differential from the others that uses the Latin alphabet as the base.

a n a to m y

Ascender 2nd Diacritic Mark Height Cap Height

1st Diacritic Mark Height Shoulder x-height

Baseline Descender Descender Line Counter

Diacritic mark


Ascender Line



The faded letters are added to accomodate the English alphabet.

Twenty-three letters total, but I’ve added the other letters (colored ones) in just for kicks.

Cà Phê Book  

Ca Phe type book I designed