Vietnamese coffee

As many developed some hobbies during Covid. I’ve developed my interest in coffee over the past couple of years. I have been a coffee lover even before but I started to make latte art at home since Covid started and became more and more interested in coffee, from the very basic about the types of coffee beans, processing methods, tastes, and of course, how to make latte art.

As part of my traveling checklist, I usually check out local coffee and cafés when I visit a place. I am in Vietnam and tried local coffee here. Some of them are a bit surprising.

Coffee was introduced by the French in mid 19th century and became a very popular drink in Vietnam since the early 20th century.

Hanoi has a lot of coffee shops on the street, literally on the street. When I think of Western cafés, what I have in my mind is a place that is relatively quiet, with the smell of ground coffee permeating the air, and a place one could enjoy some slow time. (Ok, it’s probably not always true, and too generalized, but that’s ideal simplification as what comes to my mind when talking about coffee and cafés.) Vietnam coffee is more like street food. In the old town of Hanoi, you can see people drinking a cup of coffee, sitting on a stool, sometimes at a taller plastic stool like a mini table. It’s strong, sweet, commonly mixed with condensed milk or coconut milk which makes the drink have a mixture of intense bitter and sweet aroma and taste. It’s not the first time I’ve drunk Vietnamese coffee, but it’s the first time I drink coffee in Vietnam and discovered a local way of making coffee with raw eggs, which I have never drunk or even heard of before. So when coffee was first introduced to Vietnam, milk or cream was very expensive and not available, so egg yolk was used as the substitute for milk.

The beaten egg yolk was very creamy and had all the sweetness in it. The coffee extraction sank at the bottom was bitter and felt quite strong. The coffee was served in a bowl with warm water, I guess to keep the egg warm to reduce the whiff of the raw egg.

And when I moved further north from Hanoi to Hue, there was a special local coffee made with salt. The coffee was mixed with condensed milk and salt, after mixing them, it tasted a bit like salted caramel mocha, served with ice.

I didn’t plan to have a coffee trip in Vietnam, but I do enjoy the coffee here, (more than) my fuel for a hot summer day.

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