Coffee Culture - Vietnam Edition
Vietnamese coffee has a very unique culture, this drink can be prepared in many different ways and be enjoyed at any time of the day. From your first drink before work to your last one late at night with friends in one of the many coffee houses that can be found all over Hanoi. For Vietnamese people, coffee is both a delicious drink and a social symbol.
A spot of history
Fun fact, coffee was not introduced in Vietnam until 1857 when the French colonizers brought it with them and began growing the coffee plant in small farms.
As the decades went by the popularity of coffee grew and with it the number of crops that would grow and cultivate it, becoming one of the major economic contributors for Vietnam.
However, once the Vietnam War began it disrupted the production of coffee due to depopulation, additionally, even once the war was over strict measures were being taken by the government which did not allow for limited private enterprises.
Coffee production began to increase again only in 1986 when the government allowed privately owned enterprises to function in the country again. Fast forward to today and in just under 40 years Vietnam has become the second largest coffee exporting country in the world after Brazil.
Vietnam & Coffee Production
The Provinces of Bien Hoa, Lam Dong, and Dong Nai located in the highlands of Vietnam produce around 80% of all the coffee grown in Vietnam.
In recent years farmers have moved away from monoculture beans and have been experimenting with different high-quality varietals that have resulted in complex and exotic beans.
Despite this still around 97% of Vietnam's coffee production comes from Robusta and 40% of the world’s total Robusta bean production comes from Vietnam. That is a lot of Robusta beans! This coffee tends to be described as very bitter and low in acidity.
Farmers usually prefer Robusta plants over Arabica, as Arabica plants are harder to take care of since they are more susceptible to disease. Additionally, Robusta plants are known to produce coffee with almost double the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica plants, therefore, commonly being used for coffee blends and instant coffee.
What is it made with?
Before we discuss how it is made we need to first start by discussing what equipment would be needed to make it, in this case, the famous Thang Long Vietnamese coffee dripper, traditional filters are made from stainless steel.
There are four main parts to this brewing method - The brew chamber, the screw down insert, the drip tray (base plate) and the lid. The process of making coffee with this brewing method is pretty simple, however, it requires some patience.
How is it served?
There are a few different ways coffee is served, here are some of the most popular ones.
The famous Ca phe sua da which literally translates to ‘coffee + milk + ice’ or your classic iced coffee with milk. This drink, in particular, has gotten a lot of attention worldwide thanks to international tourists that visit Vietnam. It is perfect for the hot and humid weather in Vietnam as it will keep you cool and at the same time the condensed milk will make it smoother to drink.
Now that we have learned so much about the coffee culture in Vietnam, let’s learn how to make ca phe sua da at the comfort of your home.
- 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds
- 1-2 tablespoons of condensed milk
- 150-250 ml of boiling water
- Glass of ice
How to Make it
Step 1 - Add your preferred amount of condensed milk to the bottom of the glass.
Step 2 - Put the plate over the rim of the glass and place the cup on the plate.
Step 3 - Grind your coffee beans (medium grind) and add around two tablespoons of coffee grounds - screw the round press on the top of the grounds.
Step 4 - Gently pour a small amount of boiling water (around 30-40ml) to allow the beans to release CO2 and expand.
Step 5 - After 30 seconds fill the filter to the top with the remaining water and cover the lid and wait for 5 minutes until the coffee stops pouring down.
Step 6 - Remove the filter and pour over the ice - Stir with a spoon and enjoy!
If you want to try Vietnamese coffee, find yourself a Vietnamese filter and here is Sippy's recommendation for you to obtain the best results: