Street drinking coffee shops in Hanoi, Vietnam, P.C: Travelista Club

A flower may not be a native to a country but naturalizes itself over time. Similarly, French colonists may have planted the roots of café culture in Vietnam – it is the Vietnamese people that have moulded it into something of their own, something about which they are immensely passionate. Today Vietnam comes on the list of biggest coffee-producing countries in the world, second only to Brazil.

Vietnam was introduced to coffee in 1857 by French colonists, and subsequently the years following the Vietnam war in the 1970’s when coffee plantations developed in the country’s central highlands.

 Liberica and Robusta coffee beans- are mainly produced in the country, with the latter accounting for 40% of the world’s production. Although Vietnam mainly produces coffee for exporting to other countries, the coffee in Vietnam is a reflection of its social and economic affairs.

One who has visited the country is aware of Vietnamese people’s love for coffee that gave Vietnam its various caffeine concoctions. Perhaps the most glorious concoction is Ca Pha Sua da. This intense dark-roasted, deliciously invigorating- coffee comes together with a dollop of condensed milk and a generous amount of ice.

The idea of adding condensed milk to the coffee developed prominently to fill the gap of French’s most beloved drink – café au Lait, a strong coffee with hot milk added. The legend goes that the shortage of milk during French colonization, made them turn to condensed milk- as an alternative.

Drip coffee with condensed milk, P.C: Customized tours to Vietnam

Unlike other countries, Vietnam uses the dripping technique to make coffee instead of machines, which is strong and has a liquor-like flavour. Made using the metal filter, Phin – chocolate brown deliciousness percolates into a glass filled with ice and a pool of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. After the mixture is ready, the filter is- taken off, and the glass full of addictive delight- is stirred. Finally comes the moment – when the drink with a jolt of sugar and caffeine is ready to be slurped.

Although Vietnam has an abundant amount of instant coffee, it is the drip coffee- that has generated the buzz for this energetic drink.

Other infamous coffee concoctions are egg yolk coffee, yoghurt coffee and fruity coffee.

Egg yolk coffee was ingeniously created – by the Hanoian bartender- Nguyen Van Giang. The egg yolk in the coffee was used- for the same reason – the limited availability of milk. The egg yolk is whisked with sugar and used in the coffee, which makes the drink thicker and tolerable to the bitterness of Robusta beans. The egg yolk coffee is known as Ca Phe Trung in Vietnam. Eaten rather than sipped, the egg yolk coffee has a unique texture and taste that it is often compared – to liquid tiramisu.

Vietnamese Egg Yolk coffee, P.C: Luco Travel

Made using a traditional drip filter – Phin, Vietnamese yoghurt coffee – Ca Phe Sua Chua is another unusual coffee concoction. Other than coffee, the French brought yoghurt to Vietnam during colonial times. The ingredients yoghurt and condensed milk can be mixed or blended until smooth and then added to the drip coffee. This coffee can be enjoyed hot or with a generous amount of ice. The yoghurt in the coffee gives acid tartness and sweetness that dulls down the robust taste of Robusta beans.

Shortage of milk at the times of the Vietnam War gave birth to all these unusual but delectable coffee variations that are still the treats of Vietnam’s coffee culture.

 Unlike other Asian countries, coffee is an integral part of Vietnam’s daily life. Stand-alone and street drinking coffee shops- can be found at every corner in Vietnam, though an abundant amount of new Instagram-able coffee shops at the scene is a preferred choice for the younger generation to get their fix.

It is fair to say that coffee culture is synonymous with the country, and although it might be the French who planted the seeds – it is the locals who embraced it with open arms and made it into something unique and their own.