Vietnamese Coffee Culture — The Land For Coffee Lovers
Vietnam, also known as “The Land of the Ascending Dragon,” is not just a country that was known for its historical wars and cultural heritage. Today, it is one of the most-visited countries in Southeast Asia, as it is filled with scenic surroundings all over. Many people come here to experience the unique, bitter taste of the Vietnamese coffee and understand more about the coffee culture, which is so different from the coffee cultures of other countries such as Brazil.
Vietnam, many years ago, was under the control of France. The country’s inclination towards coffee came from the habits of the French rulers. The numerous coffee plantations and the cafes that you find in Vietnam are all remnants of the culture that the French had introduced many hundreds of years ago. Vietnam is famous for its Robusta coffee beans, which lends the unique, bitter taste to the coffees here.
Robusta coffee beans are easier to cultivate than Arabica beans. The weather conditions and the soil found in Vietnam are favorable to cultivate Robusta beans. This is the reason why around 97% of the coffee plantations in Vietnam are of the Robusta variety. Vietnam experienced economic liberalization in the 1990s, post which, many international coffee companies started to make inroads into the country. During the 1990s, Vietnam was second only to Brazil in the list of most coffee producing countries of the world.
What makes Vietnamese coffee different from the rest of the coffees in the world?
The one thing that makes Vietnamese coffee stand out from the rest of its counterparts is its strong, concentrated flavor, which has tinges of alcohol taste in it. This is because the coffee beans are roasted on low heat for about 15 minutes before making the coffee. Unlike other countries, machines are not used for roasting, while preparing Vietnamese coffees. The coffee is then loaded into the filter and allowed to remain there for a while until all the flavors are dripped into the coffee. The traditional coffee made this way, without the use of machines or electric filters, is known as “ca phe phin.”
The Robusta coffee beans contain more than twice the caffeine content than what is found in Arabica beans. With a high acidity level and burnt rubber taste, these beans are very bitter and strong. You may not like it the first time you drink it; however, you will begin to like when you notice that you feel fresh and cool after drinking it, during the scorching summers.
Where to go to experience the coffee culture of Vietnam
The Central Highland is the place where most of the coffee is produced in Vietnam. You can also visit the Dalat coffee plantations located in the highlands of Vietnam. The coffee farmers here are very friendly, and they are more than happy to welcome you to their plantation and explain to you about the uniqueness of their coffees. Don’t miss the pride in their faces as they speak about the coffee cultivation process in detail.
Do Vietnamese drink only strong coffee always?
No, though the trademark specialty of Vietnam is an extremely intense and dark coffee made from slow-roasted Robusta coffee beans, it is not the only coffee drunk here. Many people (locals and foreigners) love their cup of Nau (coffee mixed with condensed milk) as much as they love their cup of the den (strong, black coffee). If you are about to try out Vietnamese coffee for the first time, we suggest you try the version with the condensed milk first, because of the black coffee version may be too strong for you. A trip to Vietnam would be incomplete without you tasting the special varieties of coffee there such as the egg yolk coffee, yogurt coffee, and fruity coffees.
The egg yolk coffee tastes a lot like your usual cappuccino. Many first-timers cannot digest the fact that their coffees have egg in it so that they balance the flavors by topping their cup with a generous dose of cream
It was a shortage of milk in the earlier years that led to the popularity of black coffees in Vietnam. However, the people the country were an adventurous lot who loved to try different and bold flavors in their cup. As part of their fruity coffees, they commonly used mashed bananas or avocados to the coffee so that it not only became thick & creamy but flavored as well.
You should also try out the Ca Phe da, which is essentially coffee served on a bed of ice when you come here. The Kopi Luwak variety of coffee is very famous in coffee, though you may not like it when we explain you the process of how it is made. Weasels are fed coffee beans, and then the beans that they excrete are cleaned and roasted to make this special variety of coffee in Vietnam.
Export of Vietnamese Coffee
Though Vietnam is the second producer of coffee in the world, the country mainly produces it for exporting to other countries. Germany and the US are the main importers of Vietnamese coffee. The other countries that import coffee from Vietnam are Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, South Korea, the UK, and Japan.
Can you make classic Vietnamese coffee at home?
Once you are back from the beautiful country of Vietnam, we are sure you would love to prepare the country’s specialty coffees right in your home kitchens. While you may have all the other ingredients such as Robusta coffee powder and condensed milk at home, you should buy the traditional Vietnamese coffee press filter to get the authentic flavors. You should attempt to prepare this coffee at home, only if you have lots of time in your hand. After all, the classic Vietnamese coffee is not just a beverage; it is a feeling that you have to experience and cherish. So, you will have to try it only if you are patient enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
It is no wonder that the government of Vietnam is trying its best to develop the quality of Robusta beans produced in its country in order to satisfy the harshest coffee critic and the choicest of coffee connoisseurs!