When I think of coffee around the world Vietnam is not a country that pops into my head immediately.
WAS not a country I thought of. Colombia, Costa Rica Kenya, now those are countries around the world with authority in the coffee industry. But Vietnam?
Vietnam is the 2nd biggest exporter of coffee in the world. Though, not in the coffee snob sense, “I only drink coffee from Vietnam.” In fact, the coffee in your instant bag of Folgers most likely came from Vietnam.
So how could a place whose coffee only gets turned into cheap bags of instant brew, have such an incredible coffee scene? I went to Vietnam with exactly that question and discovered that the Vietnamese have taken their coffee beans and created a whole new world of coffee.
It’s strong. It’s flavorful. And like nothing else I’ve ever had.
The way the coffee is brewed is what starts the unique process. A phin (drip filter) gets placed on top of a glass. Freshly ground beans go in the phin, then hot water gets poured on top. The coffee slowly drips into glass. Typically, sweetened condensed milk gets added to the freshly brewed coffee, but there are many other ways to enjoy it as well.
The coffee comes in small cups or glasses and is easily gone in a few big gulps. I had to seriously pace myself when it came to drinking coffee.
Egg Coffee (ca phe trung)
A very unique twist on coffee, only found in Hanoi, is egg coffee. I know it sounds kind of disgusting, but it was so delicious. To make it, a raw egg is whipped ferociously with milk then coffee drips over top of it. The concoction is thick and frothy and tastes similar to egg nog. It is made both hot and iced, though I found the hot to be much better. Cafe Giang is the first egg coffee cafe in Hanoi.
Black Coffee Served Hot (ca phe nong) or Iced (ca phe da)
If you can handle your coffee black and strong, you won’t be disappointed here. Even black coffee is served with a little sugar, so ask for no sugar if you don’t want any sweetness. The black coffee is smooth and buttery, though bitter.
Coffee with Condensed Milk Served Hot (ca phe sua nong) or Iced (ca phe sua da)
Adding very sweet condensed milk to black coffee makes it less bitter and more like a dessert. A small amount of the thick white liquid sits at the bottom of the glass and gets stirred into the coffee. I loved this variation, but Chris found the condensed milk way too sweet.
Coffee with Coconut Milk
This was my favorite way to drink coffee in Vietnam. Black Coffee plus coconut milk (and I think a little condensed milk). The coconut milk added an extra element of tropical fruity flavor to the drink. I personally love coconut milk, so I think that is why this drink was so delicious to me. It reminded me of a coffee and coconut smoothie.
Coffee with Yogurt (ca phe sua chua )
For this twist, hot coffee drips over yogurt resulting in a sweet, tangy mixture that reminded me of a coffee flavored smoothie. It was thick and filling. I could only drink one of these at a time, as opposed to the regular coffee and milk which I sucked down super fast.
Weasel Poop Coffee (ca phe chon)
When in Vietnam, why not seek out the most expensive coffee in the world? Weasel poop coffee. It is brewed from coffee beans eaten and excreted from the Asian civet. Through digestion, the protein in the beans gets broken down resulting in a rich, smooth, some-what chocolatey cup of coffee. Most of the places around Vietnam sell fake beans. Apparently, someone figured out how to roast regular beans with the same flavor as the weasel poop beans. We were assured that the weasel poop coffee we drank was the real deal, but you can never be to sure.
Coffee and Liquor
I don’t think this is super common, but we did a lot of coffee shop sitting, so we did a lot of coffee experimenting. We were thinking something along the lines of Irish Coffee, but a little rum added to a black or sweetened cup of coffee was quite tasty.
Have you been to Vietnam? What was your favorite way to drink the coffee?