World Coffee Series: Coffee in Vietnam
How did coffee make a name in the country of Vietnam? Let’s explore more to find out what Vietnam has to do with world-renowned coffee.
History of Coffee in Vietnam
How did coffee first pave its way into Vietnam? It was first carried over to the country by the French and introduced in 1857. After gaining a small taste of the economic growth coffee has brought, Vietnam cultivated their own lands into coffee bean plantations.
However, the coffee beans plantations weren’t designed for personal consumption or enjoyment, but rather economic profit as a staple trading supply. Eventually, coffee soon became Vietnam’s greatest source of income and a bustling source of economic prosperity.
Vietnamese Coffee Culture
After gaining a reputation for producing amazing coffee beans, Vietnam branched out into different types of coffee, thus producing private enterprises that manufactured and shipped these coffee beans to different parts of the world.
As of today, Vietnam exports about one million tonnes of coffee, making it the second-largest and leading product shipped out of Vietnam. The well-known and commonly used bean that Vietnam producers export is the Robusta bean, which is low in acidity, but bitter to the taste. Vietnam is also now gradually expanding into growing and exporting the more desirable Arabica beans.
Coffee Traditions in Vietnam
Since coffee is a large part of Vietnamese culture, it is common to see many people drinking it on a daily basis. As you pass by the streets of Vietnam, it is typical to see at least one person sipping a classic Vietnamese drip coffee.
How do they make it? It is so simple! First, ground coffee is added to a metal filter - which they refer to as a phin - that is sitting on top of a cup. As water is poured over the filter, the ground coffee soaks it up thus producing a bold brew that drips into the cup.
Some people don't like the taste of a strong black coffee, so they add condensed milk for more sweetness. This practice was also first introduced by the French when there wasn’t a chance to grab fresh milk in Vietnam. The habit became a local practice that is so deeply associated nowadays to Vietnamese coffee.
Does Vietnam Also Use Instant Coffee?
As Vietnam is known for its renowned sweet and strong Vietnamese coffee, packed with the punch of boldness paired with an intense component of sweetness, Vietnam converted to making individual instant packets of it! Just like the U.S., the country of Vietnam is progressing into a fast-paced society, and instant coffee has become a practical and money-favorable substitute for many people and businesses.
How much is instant coffee loved in Vietnam? According to one research, from 2009 - 2011 one local instant coffee brand was purchased by 10 million households out of 17 million households in all of Vietnam. It is safe to say that along with the rest of the world, Vietnam has also hopped onto the instant coffee wagon.
The OG Vietnamese Coffee
If you ever have the chance to visit the beautiful country of Vietnam, here are a few notable coffee beverages to give a try.
One of the most simple, yet popular coffee is the Vietnamese milk coffee (a.k.a. Vietnamese coffee) which can either be served iced or hot. This can also be made right in the comfort of your own home! It’s like getting a taste of Vietnam without having to travel thousands of miles just for coffee. You make it by placing a filter filled with ground coffee and water on top of a cup. After the coffee has brewed, mix it with a small amount of condensed milk. The sweetness of the condensed milk combats the bitter, strong taste of the ground coffee.
Another variation of this beverage (that people love to drink in Vietnam) is Bac Xiu, which is a Vietnamese milk coffee, but with coconut milk. However, this coffee is on the less sweet side as the coconut milk adds a creamy, refreshing taste to the strong coffee.
Other Notable Coffee Drinks in Vietnam
Vietnam isn’t only known for its brilliant combination of coffee and condensed milk, but it also carries some of the craziest coffees known.
For instance, Vietnamese people like to drink their coffee with a raw egg yolk whipped together with condensed milk. Although it sounds peculiar, this is considered a delicacy as it is poured over a filter which creates a creamy, rich cup of coffee.
Vietnam also serves a shocking type of coffee also known as weasel poop coffee. This may sound extremely unappealing at first glance, but it is not as disgusting as it sounds. This coffee is known as kopi luwak, which is coffee made up of partially digested coffee cherries that were released by the palm civet - an animal native to Asian countries.
It is carefully harvested, cleaned, and manufactured to produce a rich, deep flavor of coffee. This coffee’s retail price is extremely steep and known to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
Popular Coffee Shops to Visit in Vietnam
It is no surprise that with the overwhelming impact coffee has made in Vietnam, there is a plethora of coffee shops flooding the cities.
Taken from the list of the top 25 coffee shops in Vietnam according to Big Seven Travel, the #1 placeholder is a cafe known as The Workshop located in Ho Chi Minh city. It is famously known for its trendy cafe space and the wide variety of coffee options that they serve.
Photo from The Workshop's Facebook page
Another famous coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh is called Okkio Caffee, which is famous for serving the iconic Vietnamese egg coffee, but with a special twist. They make it much sweeter and creamier. For all the history lovers out there, this coffee shop is definitely worth visiting as it serves stellar coffee, but also a taste and glimpse of history on its walls -- literally.
Photo from Okkio Caffee's Facebook page
Cộng Cà Phê is a cafe located in the the capital city, Hanoi. It provides an indulgent experience of old Communist Vietnam displayed through old propaganda posters and photos while serving great espresso drinks.
Photo from Cộng Cà Phê's Facebook page