Русская версия Coffee production introduced by French has been a major source of income for Vietnam since the early 20th century. In 2009, Reuters reported Vietnamese coffee exports at “an estimated 1.13 million tones” for the previous year, stating that coffee was second only to rice in value of agricultural products exported from Vietnam. No wonder that Vietnamese are really creative when it comes to making coffee, and even a tourist who is not a big fan of it will find some sort he likes. Vietnam also claims to produce the most expensive kind of coffee in the world – made of the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. Today we tell how this and other sorts of Vietnamese coffee taste.
The first glass of Vietnamese coffee we tried was in Ho Chi Minh. Right, the glass – not the cup – as coffee is served in the glasses in Vietnam. This coffee was bought in the park in the center of the city from one of the ladies selling whatever you want from their trollies:
The main types of Vietnamese coffee are ca phe da – ice coffee and ca phe sua da – ice coffee with sweetened condensed milk. The use of the condensed milk is easily explained by the shortages of regular fresh milk: it is too hot to use it. The coffee is made with the help of this filter, one for each cup. We recommend you to buy this 1-dollar gadget: you will see how useful it is and how good coffee it produces. We also recommend to buy coffee from Vietnam: it is of great quality for the very low price.
Ca phe da and ca phe sua da are widespread all over the country, but it is Hanoi which is truly the capital of Vietnamese coffee boasting of all possible kinds and sorts. Ca phe trung (egg coffee) costs about 1,5 dollars here and it is indeed something special to try:
Another unusual recipe is ca phe sua chua – yogurt coffee:
Ca phe den – regular black coffee is available everywhere, of course. All these coffees go very well with excellent breakfasts served all over Vietnam. This one we had in Buon Ma Thuot – the capital of our favorite Vietnamese region with very few tourists for 1,5 dollars each only.
However, Vietnam is known by “the most expensive coffee in the world” – ca phe chon or Kopi Luwak. To say the truth, this coffee is cheaper than those sold in Starbacks. One cup of Luwak is about 3 dollars. Its beans are eaten by this cute civet animal; passing through its intestines the beans are then defecated with other fecal matter and collected. These defecations you get as the fanciest coffee ever. The method of production has raised ethical concerns of Greenpeace and other ecology organization about the treatment of civets including isolation, poor diet, small cages, and a high mortality rate. It is up to you whether to try this coffee or not, thus, condemning the whole industry. We chose to try, and to our mind it tastes like shit.
Before you buy coffee as any other drinks and food in Vietnam take some time to learn just a bit of Vietnamese vocabulary. You will see how easy these short words are, and how helpful they become in saving you money. In many restaurants, especially in the resorts, there are two menus – for the locals and for the tourists (in English) with the prices in the latter sometimes thrice higher than in the former. In this menu in Nha Trang (mainly Russian resort), black coffee is 20000 Dongs, while for the locals it is 8000.
Enjoy your Vietnamese coffee, the stories about food yet to come!