While arabica coffee remains the golden child in many cafes and households, Vietnam’s coffee culture focuses predominantly on the rival - the robusta coffee.
But that’s not all that’s different about Vietnamese coffee. From using raw eggs to coconut flavours, Vietnam has quite the options for the experimental coffee drinker.
In this blog post, we will be taking a brief glimpse at the basics, from the country’s coffee history to the key characteristics of a typical Vietnamese coffee.
It was the French colonial powers that first introduced coffee in Vietnam in 1857. But it wasn’t until a little over a decade later that coffee production was in full swing.
By the late 1900s, Vietnamese farmers took to coffee with such zeal that it quickly became a catalyst for great economic growth; so much so that coffee grew to be the 2nd most exported agricultural product after rice in the country.
The economic reforms put forth by the government allowed for better trade opportunities, giving Vietnam just the nudge to go global with their coffee exports.
While there was a dip in coffee production during and soon after the war, it picked up the pace, and Vietnam eventually went on to become the 2nd largest coffee-producing country in the world. Then, a majority of the coffee exports were made to Europe and the USA.
Today, coffee production is both privately owned and state-owned in Vietnam.
Vietnamese drip coffee is one of the most popular coffees to have come out of Vietnam. This method of brewing coffee uses a stainless steel filter that is placed directly on the cup in which one drinks the coffee. Drip coffee has become popular globally and can be enjoyed as an iced coffee or served hot.
Cà phê trứng, also known as the Vietnamese egg coffee, is one for the books. It consists of egg yolks being blended with condensed milk. This mixture is then placed in a cup into which the filter coffee decoction is poured.
Nguyen Van Giang is the person credited for inventing egg coffee back in 1946. This was done as a substitute for dairy milk which was difficult to source during that time.
Supposedly the reason why Vietnam contributes to more than 40% of the world’s robusta coffee is that they have a climate that is ideal for the robusta plant - high humidity and abundant rainfall.
Moreover, the availability of cheap labour allows coffee producers to produce robusta coffee at rates lower than in other countries, making it the best option for buyers.
Characteristics of Vietnamese Coffee
An authentic Vietnamese coffee contains condensed milk and sugar. This combination is not only used for the decadent taste that their coffees have but is said to balance out the bitterness of the robusta coffee.
Their drip coffee uses medium to coarse ground coffee that has been roasted well to bring out the intensity of the robusta beans. In any given Vietnamese coffee, you’ll find that the beans have been typically roasted to a medium-dark or dark level.
Some Vietnamese coffees even use coconut milk instead of condensed milk. This version (Bac Xiu) is less sweet than a Cà Phê Sữa but has a refreshing flavour, which makes it best for summers when consumed in the form of an iced coffee.
Their coffees tend to have a thick mouthfeel. They are extremely rich in taste, especially their filter coffee. This is because, in an authentic Vietnamese coffee recipe, they don’t use paper filters. So the oils from the coffee mix into the decoction as it drips into the cup.
One thing you should note is that these coffees have a higher acidity, and they are far more bitter than most other coffees. That said, some of you may definitely enjoy the high caffeine percentage of Vietnamese coffees.
If you’re interested in learning more about coffee-producing countries and the stories behind their coffee contributions to the world market today, follow our blog.You can also check out the range of single origin coffees we offer from several different regions in the world.