Coffee Culture in Vietnam
In Vietnam, coffee is more than a beverage. It’s a way of life.
Travelers on their Vietnam trip are always craving the strong taste of the famous Vietnamese coffee, like visiting Japan to experience tea culture. In Vietnam, coffee is more than a beverage; it’s a way of life. The people here know how to drink, appreciate, and take the coffee culture as an integral part of their daily life. Here in Asia, we do not see many countries like that.
1. How Is Coffee Produced in Vietnam?
Since the start of the 20th century, coffee production has contributed to a significant amount of income for the economy. By the late 1990s, Vietnam had ranked second in coffee production, surpassed only by Brazil. However, production was mainly concentrated on Robusta beans with rather poor quality. In recent years, more focus has been putting on improving the quality of coffee with the widespread planting of Arabica beans.
In Vietnam, the heartbeat of coffee production is found in Buon Me Thuot in the vast Central Highland. There are numerous large producers here, most notably Trung Nguyen - a local product. Many smaller farms now focus on clean and organic coffees to improve the coffee quality. Besides, several players including Nestle, who has been involved in the industry following economic liberalization in the 1990s.
2. How Do Vietnamese Drinks Coffee?
The way that coffee is roasted, brewed, and enjoyed in Vietnam is different from the rest of the world. Here, coffee is slowly roasted for 15 minutes with low heat while around the world, the coffee machine is often used for this process. While machines are also commonly used to make a cup of coffee worldwide, in Vietnam, they place a metallic filter on a cup and load coffee through it. It is then left to drip for a much more intense flavor than an electric brewer. This is also how traditional “Ca Phe Phin” is made.
3. What Are The Most Popular Coffee in Vietnam?
Two kinds of traditional coffee that Vietnamese people often take are Ca Phe Nau (sweetened condensed milk coffee, above photo) and Ca Phe Den (black coffee). People often order Ca Phe Nau Nong or Ca Phe Den Nong (Nong means hot) in winter to warm them up. But overall, Ca Phe Den Da (iced black coffee) and especially Ca Phe Nau Da (sweetened condensed milk coffee with ice) are more regular. Vietnamese traditional coffee is listed as one of the 50 Asian delicacies by CNN.
Due to the popularity of Ca Phe Nau, condensed milk plays an important role in coffee culture in this country. When the French first introduced coffee into Vietnam in the late 19th century, there was a lack of fresh milk. Therefore, the French and Vietnamese people began to use sweetened condensed milk instead to add flavor and sweetness to their coffee. Gradually, this becomes a habit for coffee drinking in Vietnam.
Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee) is a new drink. Started in Hanoi but it has soon become famous throughout the country. Ca Phe Trung combines the sharp taste of coffee and the creamy flavor of egg yolk. Ca Phe Sua Dua (Coconut Coffee) is a new drink that has just appeared in recent years but soon become one of the most favorable coffees in Vietnam.
4. How To Experience Vietnamese Coffee?
If you’ve never tried Vietnamese coffee before, your first time will be surely memorable due to the strong, liquor-like flavor. Only the brave should try Ca Phe Den (black coffee), the others should stick with Ca Phe Nau (sweetened condensed milk coffee) for a smooth and fragrant taste.
You will find many sidewalk cafes on the streets where the locals love to come to enjoy a morning drink. Sitting on low plastic chairs, waiting for the coffee to be served, sharing some chats, or reading the news is an activity that Vietnamese people consider a way of life. Come join them if you want to feel the most of the local life.
With the arrival of several international coffee powerhouses, including Starbucks, some people are afraid that Vietnamese young generations will put their national coffee into oblivious. But let’s hope that will never happen and traditional Vietnamese coffee remains an important part of the cultural experience in any Vietnam culinary tour.
5. Where To Find The Best Coffee In Hanoi?
Hanoi, the capital and the soul of Vietnam, is considered to have the strongest coffee culture in Vietnam. On every street in the city, you find dozens of coffee shops with different styles and vibes.
If you want to find Vietnamese traditional coffee, go to Dinh Coffee at Dinh Tien Hoang Str., and Nang Coffee at 45 Nguyen Huu Huan Str., Their cups of coffee have observed the ups and downs of the city. They are also two of five coffee houses in Hanoi that we believe sell the best Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee) in town.
Travelers who love best-kept secret cafes and hole-in-the-wall cafes will find it interesting to walk down long, narrow alleyways to enter Hanoi House Cafe at 47 Ly Quoc Su Str., or Hidden Gem Cafe at 3B Hang Tre. These hidden-gem coffee shops are lesser known even to the locals.
For those who want to look for something different, check out these 10 unique coffee shops. There is a cafe with no price, a cafe that opens two days a week only, an owner who changes his menu every week, and a cafe with sign language because coffee is served by disabled people. The post also introduces cafes where you can take the most magnificent photos of Hanoi.