Vietnam Time

10/2/2018 4:46:41 PM

Vietnam among world’s must-visit destinations for coffee lovers

Vietnam has been ranked second among the seven destinations everyone who loves coffee needs to visit, according to a list released by Irish Examiner, an Irish national daily newspaper.

Vietnamese iced coffee.

“In Vietnam order a ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee), a traditional iced coffee that sees ground beans tipped into a French drip filter, before being sweetened with condensed milk,” Irish Examiner wrote.

Cape Town (South Africa) tops the list, followed by Vietnam, Melbourne (Australia), Italy, Vienna (Austria), Sweden, Turkey.

Earlier, World famous travel website CNTraveler listed Vietnamese coffee among top 15 best coffee around the world. According to the website, Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk is widely available throughout the world, but it’s an especially delicious treat to seek out while visiting Vietnam.

Vietnamese iced coffee is a traditional Vietnamese coffee recipe. At its simplest, Vietnamese iced coffee is made using medium to coarse ground dark roast Vietnamese-grown coffee with a small metal Vietnamese drip filter.

After the hot water is added, the drip filter releases drop of hot coffee slowly into a cup. This finished cup of hot coffee is then quickly poured into a glass full of ice making the finished Vietnamese iced coffee.

A popular way to drink Vietnamese coffee is Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. This is done by filling up the coffee cup with 2 - 3 tablespoons or more of sweetened condensed milk prior to the drip filter process.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enjoys coffee in HCM City in 2017. (Photo by Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper)

Vietnamese coffee culture

Influenced by the Chinese, who ruled the country for 1,000 years, traditionally Vietnam was a tea-drinking nation.

So what makes coffee so popular today?

“I can't really answer that with complete confidence, but I do believe it started with French influence, which makes sense given the popularity of bread and cheese," says Will Frith, a specialty coffee consultant who has worked in Dalat in the central highlands of Vietnam.

"The French introduced coffee to Vietnam, mainly as a way to supply their own colonial expat populations. As Vietnam became influenced by other economic forces and collaborators from Europe -- the French in 1860s through the early 20th century and the Germans mid-century, which opened them up to instant coffee production -- coffee started to make its way into cities, where popularity has increased ever since."

Nowadays coffee culture is very much entwined in Vietnamese life.

"The older generation prefer to sit at sidewalk cafes, smoke cigarettes and socialize," explains Frith. "Many will sip on coffee all day long. The younger generation is into the more European-influenced cafe experience, going out to be seen in cafes and to socialize with friends. Many of these cafes are decorated like discotheques, with loud club music to match."

"Ca phe trung," or egg coffee, is a Hanoi specialty. A creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese coffee. (Source: Cafe Giang)

The preparation process, as well as the blend of beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular style. Coarsely ground beans go into a French drip filter (called a phin), which sits on top of the cup. The beans are weighted down with a thin lid, hot water is added to the phin, and then the water slowly trickles through into the cup.

Most people drink the resulting dark, strong brew with sweetened condensed milk, a practice that began because the French couldn’t easily acquire fresh milk. In the north of Vietnam, this mixture is referred to as ca phe nau (brown coffee), while in the south it’s called ca phe sua (milk coffee).

Vietnam has far more to offer in the caffeine department than just coffee with milk. There are a few more unique variations to look out for such as yoghurt coffee (sua chua ca phe), egg coffee (ca phe trung), coffee smoothie (sinh to ca phe), etc.

A few coffee-drinking tips

Milky way

Don’t even try to ask for decaf. If you prefer your coffee mild, do as the Vietnamese do and order ca phe bac xiu, coffee with lots of extra condensed milk.

Sweet spot

As condensed milk is sweetened, there is no white coffee without sugar. True coffee connoisseurs should opt for ca phe den (black coffee). A touch of sugar will bring out the complex flavours, just as it does with dark chocolate. However, if you want to ensure that your drink isn’t too sweet, ask for it duong (less sugar).

Avoid hunger

Cafes in Vietnam don’t typically serve food. Some newer cafes do offer quick eats, but you’re better off following the local custom of eating first and then heading to a cafe to relax. In a pinch, you can always nibble on hat huong duong (sunflower seeds)./.

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