In your Vietnam travel itinerary, you can discover a variety of delicious local foods and drinks to enjoy. Among these delicacies, Vietnamese coffee is one of the most popular beverages in Vietnam. In this guide, you will get to discover how to drink Vietnamese coffee in the local way and learn the different types of coffee Vietnam has to offer.
1. A glance at Vietnamese coffee drinking culture
Introduced by the French during their colonial period, the history of Vietnamese coffee began with the cultivation of Arabica coffee in the northern region. Later, the French brought in other coffee varieties such as Robusta. After centuries of adoption, coffee has evolved into a ubiquitous beverage among Vietnamese people. In bustling urban centers, coffee shops in Vietnam sprout everywhere, from narrow alleys to bustling streets.
Although Vietnamese coffee was introduced by the French, the Vietnamese culture of enjoying coffee is somewhat different. The French often drink coffee before the working day begins. As for Vietnamese people, it depends on each person. In Vietnam, the mornings and late afternoons are marked by scenes of individuals leisurely sipping coffee on the roadside while chatting or reading the newspaper – a daily ritual ingrained in their routine. Young people also come to coffee shops to work, study, or hang out with friends, be it on weekdays or weekends.
2. Unique ways to drink coffee in Vietnam
If you are a coffee lover, it would be a waste if you missed out on the chance to try authentic Vietnamese coffee. Here, we will explore how to drink Vietnamese coffee, with different types of coffee that cater to each individual’s taste.
2.1. Black coffee (Ca phe den)
Black coffee is known for its aromatic, strong, and bitter taste with a little bit of sour flavor. This Vietnamese coffee is brewed by a unique method that uses a small metal filter called phin. The strong taste of black coffee comes from Robusta coffee beans. To eliminate the sourness, the beans are dried in sunlight and roasted slightly to achieve the desired level of bitterness. The coffee made with this brewing technique is often called Vietnamese drip coffee.
How to drink Vietnamese drip coffee? You can enjoy this coffee by simply taking warm sips as they read a book or chat with friends. You can enjoy it either with or without ice for a refreshing feeling.
2.2. Coffee with condensed milk (Ca phe sua)
Coffee with condensed milk is often preferred by those who enjoy a sweeter and creamier taste. Vietnamese milk coffee is made by mixing black coffee with sweetened condensed milk, a common sweetener in Vietnamese food. The brewing technique of this coffee is similar to that of black coffee, with the use of the phin to filter out the coffee. However, condensed milk is placed in the bottom of the glass that holds the coffee dripped from the phin.
Milk coffee is popularly enjoyed in the southern region with ice, and hence, it is also called Vietnamese iced coffee. In the northern region, it is often called brown coffee. This drink can be served hot or with ice.
2.3. White coffee (Bac xiu)
White coffee is often named in the menu as Bac xiu. “Bac” means white, and “xiu” means coffee. The name comes from Cantonese, which was commonly used by Chinese people in the shopping area of Saigon – Cho Lon in old times. Bac xiu is a coffee made from hot milk mixed with a little coffee. This ratio uses more milk than coffee, which helps reduce bitterness and create a unique aroma. As a result, bac xiu is more suitable for daily beverages and often preferred by young people. The creamy texture and light flavor of bac xiu make it a popular choice for those who seek a milder coffee experience.
2.4. Egg coffee (Ca phe trung)
Egg coffee first appeared in the 1940s. At that time, milk was scarce, and egg yolks became a convenient substitute. Giang Café in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, where egg coffee was invented, continues to serve this unique concoction to this day. It gained worldwide fame as foreign tourists began to eagerly share tales of this unique treat upon visiting Vietnam.
The process of making egg coffee is simple, yet achieving the perfect taste is no small feat. After whisking the eggs thoroughly and letting the coffee drip through the filter, the mixture is brought to a boil and poured directly into the whipped eggs, causing them to rise to the surface.
So, how to drink Vietnamese egg coffee? It is best to enjoy this beverage right after it’s freshly brewed and still piping hot. Similar to any other traditional dish, when indulging in egg coffee, remember to gently stir to evenly distribute the frothy layer before savoring this delightful treat.
2.5. Yogurt coffee (Sua chua ca phe)
In Vietnam, yogurt is often enjoyed together with a variety of toppings such as coffee, sticky rice, and fresh mango. This may sound like an odd pairing, but the flavor of black coffee and the creamy texture of yogurt make for a great combo. Yogurt coffee boasts an eye-catching color and an incredibly distinctive coffee aroma. The bitterness of the coffee blends with the sweetness of condensed milk and the tanginess of yogurt, resulting in a deliciously unique taste. This beverage is often considered a refreshment drink, though not as common as other coffee beverages.
2.6. Coconut coffee (Ca phe cot dua)
In recent years, coconut coffee has gained popularity among Vietnamese youngsters. It is a refreshing beverage that blends black coffee, condensed milk, and coconut cream with ice on top. Coconut coffee, or ca phe cot dua, combines the bitter notes of coffee with the creaminess of coconut for a cool experience. This drink is particularly favored on scorching hot days. With its appealing appearance and sweet fragrance, it has captivated many diners. Another variation of this beverage features brown coffee as the base, with added coconut cream and fresh milk instead of blended ice.
3. How to drink Vietnamese coffee like a local?
3.1. Take your time
Regarding how to drink Vietnamese coffee, the first thing to remember is to take your time. The entire process of brewing black coffee takes only about 5-10 minutes for the coffee to drip. This condensed and velvety coffee can be enjoyed directly, or you can add boiling water to adjust the temperature and reduce the taste intensity. Ritualistic coffee enjoyment fits a more slow-paced lifestyle.
3.2. Enjoy coffee with condensed milk
Black coffee may not be for everyone because of its strong taste. If you still want to enjoy black coffee with less bitterness, it is advisable to ask the barista to add extra condensed milk to your taste. Coffee shops have sugar as well, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. If you prefer less caffeine, bac xiu will be a suitable option.
3.3. Keep your belly full
Since Vietnamese coffee is known to be strong, it is best not to enjoy it on an empty stomach. If you are hungry, just accompany your coffee with snacks. In Vietnam, many coffee shops also serve cakes and other foods for you to indulge in.
Around Vietnam, you can find a lot of interesting things in terms of cuisine, culture, and people. Some of Vietnam’s most famous tourist destinations are Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long. If you are planning to visit these destinations, make sure to arrange where you’ll stay ahead of time.
It is recommended that you book a room at the hotel and resort system of Vinpearl. Scattered across Vietnam in the most touristy spots, Vinpearl provides visitors with luxurious rooms and a range of attractive amenities such as restaurants, bars, swimming pools, spas, etc.
With Vinpearl, you can also discover the paradise of VinWonders – a chain of entertainment complexes that promises endless fun and excitement for visitors of all ages. VinWonders will surely bring you an unforgettable experience that will leave you and your loved ones enchanted!
In summary, enjoying Vietnamese coffee is a cultural experience that appeals to all the senses. From the bustling streets to the serene corners of local cafes, the journey of Vietnamese coffee unveils a rich tapestry of flavors, aromas, and moments to be cherished. As you have discovered how to drink Vietnamese coffee, it is time for you to roam the streets, treat yourself to a cup of coffee, and allow your senses to be awakened by the distinct tastes of Vietnamese coffee.