Why The Vietnamese Like Their Coffee So Much
Many countries have a coffee culture. Ethiopia, for example, is where the hot drink originated. Brazil, where even children drink a cup in the morning. And Europe, of course, has new hipster coffee shops opening almost daily. But in Vietnam, coffee is more than just a beverage; it’s a way of life. The Vietnamese know how to make, drink, and appreciate the liquid black gold, and they made coffee an integral part of their daily life.
During colonization, the French brought coffee to Vietnam, and obviously, that influence still bears heavily. The numerous coffee plantations and cafes around the country wouldn’t be there without them. 97% of the plantations produce the Robusta coffee beans, famous for their unique and bitter coffee taste.
They’re easier to cultivate than the better-known Arabica beans and contain more than twice their amount of caffeine. So be careful what you wish for if you order your third cup!
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1. Den – Strong, black coffee
The thing that makes Vietnamese coffee really stand out is its strong taste. This is because the beans are roasted on low heat for fifteen minutes (in most countries, they use machines) and then put into a filter. Slowly, the coffee starts to drip through.
That’s also why they call it to drip coffee, or Ca Phe Phin, in Vietnamese.
Den Da (iced black coffee) is the most regular choice among locals. But in North Vietnam, when winter comes, Den Nong (hot coffee) is popular too. Beware, though, Vietnamese coffee is - and we cannot emphasize this enough - very strong with an almost liquor-like flavor. Read as: for daredevils only.
2. Nau – Coffee with condensed milk
The French were used to having their coffee with a dash of milk, but fresh milk wasn’t always available in Vietnam in the late 19th century. Sweetened condensed milk proved itself to be a good alternative. So good that Nau has become a tradition.
It is made exactly the same as Den, using the dripping technique, with the milk added to give it a more smooth and more fragrant taste. Like Den, Nau can be drunk cold (Nau Da) or hot (Nau Nong).
Bac Xiu is your go-to option for Vietnamese coffee if you’re a sweet tooth or are not too keen on drinking a lot of caffeine. Bac Tay Xui Phe, translated as a white glass with a small amount of coffee, originated in Ho Chi Minh City and is closest to what we know as a café latte.
Don’t let the Vietnamese see you drink it, though. Bac Xiu is for children only, according to the die-hards.
3. New Styles
And then there are the unique varieties. Egg yolk coffee originated in Hanoi and tastes like your regular cappuccino.
You should also try coconut coffee, with coconut cream added to the condensed milk, and avocado coffee, making your Nau extra creamy and subtle.
Hue is famous for its salt coffee, and although it might sound like a crazy combination, the rich coffee and salty cream together create a caramel-like aftertaste. Delish!
Whatever you do when you go to Vietnam, we made it clear that you cannot get around trying some real Vietnamese coffee. And if you’re hooked, make sure to buy an original Vietnamese coffee press filter.
You’ll quickly find Robusta beans and condensed milk at home, but you need the filter to get that authentic taste. Cheers!
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