When the steady dripping finishes, mix the rich black coffee with condensed milk, and you’ll smell the caffeine fragrance.
Then sip a bit of it:
The mixture taste of the sweet and bitterness will freshen you and allow you to relax!
And this is the mystery and magic of Vietnamese coffee—cà phê sữa (black coffee with condensed milk).
In the hot weather, Vietnamese coffee with ice (and condensed milk)—cà phê sữa đá—is even more popular.
“I like the taste of their mixture,” said Kirsty, a young lady from France who has been to Vietnam many times, “I usually take it for dessert.”
Apart from mixing with condensed milk, if you are a lover of strong coffee, you can also try the brewed plain black coffee without adding anything, and you will also taste and feel the uniqueness of the local coffee.
Yannick, a Frenchman who has stayed in Hồ Chí Minh City (HCMC) for one week, prefers drinking plain black Vietnamese coffee without adding anything.
“I like strong coffee, and I prefer watching and enjoying the brewing process,” he says.
According to archives, coffee arrived in Việt Nam with the French and Dutch settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Soon afterwards, the Vietnamese adopted the beverage and made its their own.
While the fresh milk was not readily available at that time and difficult for storing in a tropical climate, sweetened condensed milk became an alternative.
As condensed milk serves to sweeten the coffee as well, unlike others typical coffees like Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte, cà phê sữa đá needs no sugar.
In late 19th century, the French started growing coffee in some parts of Việt Nam.
Roasted to simulate the famous but cheapest coffee — Robusta, using medium roast and the French method, and adding corn oil instead of chicory while processing, the Vietnamese coffee beans become unique.
It symbolizes the signature taste of cà phê sữa đá, and has become part of the Vietnamese culture.
“It is great to enjoy the process of brewing the coffee, and it is certainly the unique culture of Việt Nam,” says Nicola, a tourist from England who has arrived in HCMC for five weeks.
“I’ve bought several packs of Vietnamese coffee at a nice price and will bring them home.”
Many coffee shops in HCMC sell Vietnam-produced coffee beans at a cheap price.
In Bến Thành Market, there are different types of coffee beans for foreigners to consume.
Other than Robusta, in Buôn Ma Thuột, several varieties of coffee are grown, including Arabica, Chari (Excelsa), Catimor and some indigenous varieties of Arabica.
Vietnamese coffee producers blend multiple varieties of beans for different flavor characteristics and balance.
The price of half a kilogram of Vietnamese coffee costs only around VND160,000, which is very attractive.
Of course, you need to bargain a bit sometimes. And if you travel to the coastal and central places in Việt Nam, for example in Đà Lạt, you will have even better quality.
Apart from selling various coffee beans, coffee shops also sell the brewer of traditional cà phê đá.
The brewer is actually a filter, called phin in Vietnamese.
A phin is a small coffee pot, which looks like a hat and contains four parts, a spanner with holes for the dripping of the coffee; the brewing chamber which looks like a cup; the insert that press the coffee down the bottom of the brewing chamber; and finally the cover which looks like a hat.
It is very basic and simple to brew coffee.
Although it takes you at least five minutes for the brewing process, this drink is totally worth for such a wait.
Never try to hasten the process, say, using a French press to get a cup of Vietnamese coffee!
It will not taste the same.
Waiting and enjoying the adorable dripping of the brewing process is the main key and uniqueness of traditional Vietnamese coffee.
In HCMC, you can find Vietnamese coffee everywhere.
“I prefer drinking Vietnamese coffee with a phin, I think the coffee culture is impressive.
You can taste and try it everywhere in the city,” says Yannick.
Preserving the culture is important, but at the same time, do not overuse and make profit of the culture.
“It would be a lot better if the coffee culture is not overwhelmed by the chains,” says Nicola,
“I prefer staying in a small café and enjoy this culture of drinking Vietnamese coffee.”
By JASMIN YIU
Source: The Saigon Times