Introduced in 1857 during the French colonization period, coffee has evolved to be more than just a crop, as it has engraved a significant mark on Vietnamese culture and lifestyle. The world-famous filter coffee can be found anywhere at a reasonably cheap price, but the story behind it is priceless. Therefore, let's unveil Vietnamese coffee culture and gain some insights to enjoy this special beverage to the fullest!
Read more at Coffee Culture in Vietnam and check out 5 lesser-known cafes in Hanoi
Drinking coffee is something many Vietnamese do on a daily basis
1. Why do Vietnameses enjoy coffee so much?
Over 100 years of development, coffee has made Vietnam the second largest coffee producer in the world. Not only does Vietnam hold a significant exporting proportion, but the typical flavor of Vietnam's coffee - Robustis also highly regarded for its taste. The sapid, bitter flavor with grainy overtone, yet ends with a peanutty aftertaste of Robusta is the perfect match for Vietnamese preference, highlighting Vietnamese coffee culture with such a special, distinctive taste.
Roasted coffee bean
However, the ultimate reason why Vietnamese proudly claim coffee as a part of their identity is that it is more than just a drink, it is a way of life. Going through tough and rough times of war with the Vietnamese, coffee can be considered a “living witness” of history, and in recent years, it has become an indispensable trait of their daily lives: Coffee energizes their day, accompanies their gatherings and listens to their stories, regardless of class, background or settings.
2. Different types of coffee
There is no better way to learn about Vietnamese coffee culture than through experience. Therefore, here is a list of the 6 most famous coffee drinks, each with a signature flavor and story to tell, try them all and decide which is your favorite!
Black Coffee (Cafe Đen) - Not for the faint of heart
Simple and no-frills, black coffee is used only with a hint of sugar or no other flavoring drink. This beverage is not for the scaredy-cats, because not everyone can enjoy the bold, raw taste of Robusta, but once you're used to Vietnamese black coffee, there's no coming back!
Sweet Condensed Milk Coffee (Cafe Sữa Đá) - The classic choice
Made with coffee and condensed milk, brown coffee is the ideal balance of bitterness and sweetness. If you are still confused about which coffee to start with, give brown coffee a try as it is smooth and robust in flavor, yet contains the right amount of coffee to keep you awake.
Ground dark roast coffee is slowly strained and dripped through a phin - a traditional stainless steel drip filter
Egg Coffee - A Hanoian family secret
In 1940, the young bartender Nguyen Van Giang was working on a new coffee recipe when he suddenly thought of replacing milk with eggs, and the rest is history. Mr. Giang then opened his family-run egg coffee shop and made egg coffee a one-of-a-kind specialty of Hanoi. This special beverage is made by whisking the egg yolks into creamy, meringue-like foam, then slowly blending in with hot espresso to create a thick texture. Its alluring fragrance, flavorful taste, and aesthetic look are absolutely worth the try.
Egg Coffee - a Hanoi specialty
White Coffee (Bạc Xỉu) - A cultural fusion
Having similar ingredients to brown coffee, white coffee, or Bac Xiu, bears its own flavor and story. Originating in the Chinatown of Saigon during French colonization, Bac Xiu fuses three different coffee cultures into one unique beverage. Bac Xiu is best served hot - the perfect temperature to enjoy the blend of diluted condensed milk and coffee. Bac Xiu is usually delivered with a plate of bagel twists, and here’s a warning, it is incredibly addictive!
Bac Xiu fuses three different coffee cultures into one unique beverage
Coffee Yogurt - The unexpectedly delicious pairing
This may seem like an unusual combo, but the thick yogurt goes surprisingly well with a dose of black coffee and some cocoa powder sprinkled on top. With a scoop of crushed ice, coffee yogurt is one of the best coffee treats in the summer. It is also suitable for children or anyone with low caffeine tolerance.
Coconut Coffee - A tropical twist
Another summery specialty, infused with the most ‘summery’ fruit ever - coconut! Coffee is combined with coconut cream, condensed milk, and ice to produce the most refreshing, summertime treat ever. Sit back, relax and spoil yourself with a glass of ice-cold coconut coffee to beat the tropical summer heat.
3. Where to have a cup of coffee
Traditional street cafes
A few sets of small tables and stools arranged at the corner of the street
or humbly nestled on the sidewalk just enough to sit are some interesting traits of street cafes. Walking around the streets, it is not difficult to come across such unnamed cafes. Rustic and simple, street cafes offer a place to ease one’s mind in the bustling city life.
A sidewalk cafe with plastic chairs and tables
In modern days, coffee shops are developing into multi-purpose destination that meets the customers’ demand. Coffee shops nowadays don’t just serve beverages, they also offer atmosphere, service, amenities, or even concepts to customers. Therefore, the price of a drink also includes service costs, branding costs, and raw materials.
A cafe with a concept
It is not wrong to say that Vietnamese coffee culture is a proud representative of Vietnam to foreigners, as the drink contains various cultural and social quintessence of Vietnam through many years of development. So, let's explore the beautiful country of Vietnam with a cup of coffee, shall we?