Vietnamese food has gained more and more appreciation from people all over the world. In particular, Vietnamese coffee has a unique flavour and many variations that can be modified with different ingredients. Below are some tips to drink coffee like a local and some places to try the best Vietnamese coffee.
1. The history of Vietnamese coffee
- The origin of Vietnamese coffee
French missionaries brought Arabica coffee to Vietnam in 1857. It was first planted near churches in the northern and central provinces. Then, it was planted in the south of the central highlands and the southeastern region also. It was discovered that the central highlands was the most suitable place to grow coffee.
In 1908, the French brought Robusta and Excelsa coffee to Vietnam to the central highlands. At the end of the 1990s, Vietnam became the leading coffee producer in Southeast Asia, and ranked second in the world after Brazil. Vietnam produces mostly Robusta coffee. Today, it is estimated that Vietnam produces 20 percent of the world’s coffee and 40 percent of all robusta.
- Vietnamese coffee nowadays
Generally, Vietnamese coffee has a strong flavour. It can be mixed with sweet condensed milk and while still keeping its “coffee” flavour.
Vietnamese coffee has conquered people from all over the world. It has been named in the list of the best coffee drinks in the world by CNN Traveler. It is also chosen by The Travel magazine as a country with a unique coffee culture. Bloomberg stated that it was in the top 10 coffee drinks in the world.
In Vietnam, the drink has become a part of Vietnamese culture, a way of life rather than just a local beverage. You can find coffee shops on any corner of the street. A time for coffee is not just to take a quick drink but also to hang out with friends.
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2. 6 fantastic Vietnamese coffee types that should not be missed
2.1. Drip-filter coffee: The must-try Vietnamese coffee for first-time visitors
The traditional way to make Vietnamese coffee is by using a metal Vietnamese coffee filter to produce coffee extract. Coffee beans, after being roasted in butter, are ground and put in the filter with hot water. Coffee essence will drip from the filter into a cup below. When the coffee essence is enough for a cup, you can add sugar or condensed milk and enjoy.
2.2. Vietnamese hot egg coffee: The best drink to warm your soul
Egg coffee is a creation of the people of Hanoi in the 1940s, back when there was a shortage of milk. A man named Tri Hoa Nguyen started using egg yolk to mix with hot coffee instead of milk. Egg coffee was not popular until the 80s, when Vietnam started to develop its coffee industry. During the 80s, egg coffee reached its golden age. The creamy, dense, frothy foam floating on top of the cup will make you fall in love with this drink, especially on a cold winter day.
2.3. Coconut coffee: The best Vietnamese coffee to cool you down
Vietnamese coffee recipes are so diverse that no one knows for sure how many kinds of coffee are available. Iced coconut coffee is more popular in Southern Vietnam, where the weather is hot all year round. Traditional coffee is blended with coconut milk, fresh milk, and condensed milk to create a tropical coffee cocktail that can cool you down in the heat of summer.
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2.4. Yogurt coffee: The best Vietnamese coffee for an afternoon snack
This Vietnamese coffee variation consists of yoghurt, condensed milk, ice, and coffee. The sourness of yogurt, bitterness of coffee, and sweetness of condensed milk create a tasty cool drink. It is more popular in Hanoi, where many cafes use fresh home-made yoghurt. This creamy and rich drink can be served with many kinds of toppings like fresh fruit or fermented rice.
2.5. Iced Vietnamese coffee: The perfect “pick-me-up” to try
Iced coffee is another basic coffee variation in Vietnam, which is made in the same way as filtered coffee. Just add some ice to stir with milk and brewed coffee extract to make a cool refreshing drink. This is a real treat on a hot day.
2.6. White coffee: The best Vietnamese coffee for a sugar rush
Some young people prefer this variation of mild coffee in case they have not gotten used to the bitterness of Robusta coffee. Iced Vietnamese coffee consists of coffee, condensed milk, and ice. More milk and less coffee will create bac xiu, a coffee variation that is sweeter than normal.
>>> Read more at Vietnam things to do: 10 MUST-HAVE experiences on a First Visit
3. Best places to have a cup of Vietnamese coffee
3.1. Vietnamese coffee in Hanoi
As the birthplace of Vietnamese egg coffee, this is one of the best places to try this unique drink.
- Cafe Dinh: 13 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District
The old-style cafe has classical coffee variations such as egg coffee and black coffee. You can sit on a small balcony, sip a cup of coffee while looking over the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, a symbol of Hanoi.
This well-decorated cafe is full of post-it notes written from customers from all over the world. The notes are everywhere: on the walls, tables, chairs, fans, and ceiling.
Along this street, there are dozens of cafes, both small and big, rustic and modern. You can even smell coffee beans outside.
3.2. Vietnamese coffee in Da Nang
Located at a prime location near Dragon Bridge, Han River, and Con Market, this cafe is a top beautiful cafe with a cool and spacious atmosphere that is typical of the central region.
This cafe is designed with luxurious furniture and a lush garden outside. The menu also includes high-end wine.
The cafe has a vintage style, which is suitable for people who want to seek a quiet corner to read a book and sip a cup of fine coffee.
3.3. Vietnamese coffee in Hoi An
This cafe is located in a two-storey house in downtown Hoi An, having classical architecture. From the cafe, you can have a rooftop view of the ancient streets and houses below.
This is a romantic garden cafe which offers a setting of nature. You can sit on a soft cushion and enjoy a cup of coffee in front of a lush rice field.
This special café was founded by Reiko Usuda, a Japanese humanitarian who worked on a water purification research project. The cafe uses an eco-biological system to filter the water for making coffee. It also uses organic herbs to make Vietnamese and Japanese snacks for customers.
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3.4. Vietnamese coffee in Nha Trang
Some notable Vietnamese coffee shops in Nha Trang are:
- An Cafe: 40 Le Dai Hanh Street
- Tron Cafe: Villa 23, Lane 86C, Tran Phu Street
- Tiem Ca Phe: 30/23 Doan Tran Nghiep Street
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3.5 Vietnamese coffee in Buon Ma Thuot
- The World Coffee Museum: Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Tan Loi
Here, you can learn about the history of coffee in Vietnam and the world while tasting the authentic coffee of Buon Ma Thuot.
Buon Ma Thuot is a famed coffee producing city, and this is one of the most popular cafes here. The cafe has beautiful scenery, with cherry blossom trees at the entrance.
- Anh O Dau Cafe: 144/3 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Khanh Xuan
With a lush spacious garden, this cafe is often considered a miniature Da Lat in Buon Ma Thuot.
3.6. Vietnamese coffee in Saigon
Some notable Vietnamese coffee shops in Saigon are:
- The Workshop Coffee: 27 Ngo Duc Ke Street, District 1
- Bosgaurus Coffee: 1D5, 92, Villa, Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Saigon Pearl, Binh Thanh District
- La Viet: 191 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 3
4. Tips to drink Vietnamese coffee like a local
When in Vietnam, drink coffee as Vietnamese do:
- Coffee is better enjoyed with friends: Coffee time is a chance to sit, relax, and chat with friends. Two (or more) cups of coffee is always better than one.
- Refrain from drinking coffee with an empty stomach: Vietnamese coffee is pretty strong. Thus, you should eat something before having a cup of coffee. Modern cafes in Vietnam often serve cakes or snacks.
- In case you prefer mild coffee: Order bac xiu or coffee with extra condensed milk, which will be like cream coffee.
- In case you don’t have sweet teeth: Ask for ca phe den (black coffee) which has no sugar, or just ask for coffee with less sugar. White coffee always has condensed milk.
Together with Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamese coffee has won the hearts of many foreigners. As the second largest coffee exporter in the world, Vietnam has developed a profound coffee culture with many coffee variations. And there is no lack of coffee shops for you to visit in every tourist destination throughout the country!