Thinking about Coffee you will probably start dreaming of the exotic Brazil, Colombia, or even Ethiopia.
Right and wrong!!! Brazil is really the hugest coffee producer in the world. Travelling 5 weeks in Vietnam I discovered that Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee beans exporter today in the planet. Unbelievable!!!
In the 1990s, Coffee production in Vietnam grew by 15%-32% every year. In the coffee industry now work about 3 million people, with coffee beans grown on half a million smallholdings of two to three acres each of them.
Coffee production has been a main source of income for Vietnam since the early 20th century. The French in 1857 started to plant coffee and in our days the Vietnamese coffee industry is very good developed, becoming a key economic force in Vietnam.
European scientists contracted by private industry have classified the growing regions of the Buôn Mê Thuột into micro-climates. In these dissimilar districts, quite a few types of coffee are grown, including Robusta, Arabica, Chari (Excelsa), with Arabica varieties including Catimor. Also some other kinds of coffee grow there, with native lineage, such as the Arabica SE. Vietnamese coffee producers blend multiple varieties of beans to reduce their cost production or to create different flavours, characteristics and balance.
I learned there that Vietnam grows most of all the hardier Robusta bean which has more caffeine than Arabica . Robusta coffee accounts for about 97% per cent of countries’ total output.
And because the most high-end coffee shops mostly buy Arabica coffee beans, Arabica production is expected to rise owing to the expansion of growing areas in Vietnam.
Other types of coffee beans produced in Vietnam include Chari (Excelsa) and Catimor. (try to connect links from WIKI in all underlined words of coffee bean types. Keep this colour of the word I already have)
Coffee in Vietnamese style and taste
Tasteful and really strong, the Vietnamese coffee made changes as quickly as it raised my pulses the first time I tasted it during my breakfast in a French colony style hotel (Da Lat city).
The morning cup of ca phe coffee became since last century a local habit.
Traveling the old French Colonies, I saw that the brew Vietnamese coffee in single-cup filters. I saw very seldom in coffee shops small coffee machines, and also, they used them not often or not at all. As I remember almost everywhere was the same. South or north.
Vietnamese coffee and coffee drinks have characteristics that differentiate them from other coffees and brewing methods.
Typically, the coffee is prepared with single-cup filter/brewers known as phin over single servings and the coffee generally is served table-side while it is still brewing. Amazing!!!
The habit to use of sweetened condensed milk instead of fresh milk was because to its easier storage in a tropical climate and availability and because to its sweeten usage. In Vietnam, people love very sweet “things” indeed and use a lot of sugar in their drinks and sweets.
The coffee also can be brewed into ice for cà phê đá (iced coffee), or when they add condensed milk for cà phê sữa đá.
For their Coffee drinks variations, they use yoghurt, eggs and even fruit. With all these elements they mix in their coffee, Vietnamese coffee has developed a special style of its own.
Different but tasty and strong
The coffee preparation process, as well as the blend of the coffee beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its specific elegance.
They use coarsely ground beans into a single French drip filter (called a phin), which sits on top of the coffee cup. The grounded beans are weighted down with a thin lid. After this hot water has to be added to the phin, and then we see the water slowly flowing through into the coffee cup. As we mentioned before, most of the people there drink the produced dark, strong brew with sweetened condensed milk. In the north of Vietnam, this mixture is called ca phe nau (brown coffee), while in the south its name is ca phe sua (milk coffee).
The famous Egg coffee (ca phe trung) is Egg yolk whipped with sweet condensed milk into a light froth added to dark coffee. Egg coffee first created in the 1940s, when milk was rare and egg yolks provided a suitable replacement.
Yoghurt coffee drink(sua chua ca phe) is brewed cold coffee with yoghurt (French brought yoghurt to Vietnam) and is a rich and creamy coffee drink, served with several toppings, from fruits such as fresh mango to fermented rice. This might sound like aa strange combination, but the rich fresh cold yoghurt pairs incredibly
Coffee smoothie (sinh to ca phe) is the fresh smoothie drink where coffee has found its way into fruit mixtures. Very popular juice shops mix creamy tasty drinks of fresh fruits with a touch of Vietnamese coffee. Occasionally, put in some yoghurt or cashews. In Hanoi, I tried the coffee smoothie sinh to ca phe chuoi bo (coffee blended with banana and avocado) and in Ho Chi Minh City near the airport the sinh to ca phe sapoche (coffee blended with the tropical fruit sapodilla). Both are a very delightful way to get your daily caffeine fix and of course your vitamins at the same time. And because they also add everywhere a lot of sugar or sweetened condensed milk or both at the same time, if you don’t like it and prefer it more natural, just ask to make your coffee smoothie without them.
As a coffee lover, I enjoyed very much my trip to Vietnam. It was really an amazing and positive surprise and I learned there a lot about coffee beans, coffee and coffee drinks.