Coffee in Vietnam

Vietnam is the second greatest coffee producer in the world. Only Brazil grows more coffee. But Vietnam grows primarily Robusta coffee as opposed to Arabica coffee grown throughout the Americas. Robusta coffee has more coffee per bean and is a more bitter coffee than Arabica. Thus when you ask for coffee in Vietnam you always get it with a layer of sweetened condensed milk layered on top. The drink is very strong and very sugary. Coffee in Vietnam is served hot or cold.

History of Coffee in Vietnam

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 when the French were the colonial masters of French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). The costal highlands that run the length of this 1000 mile long country are ideal for coffee production. Vietnam was reunified in 1975 at the end of the French colonial period and then the Vietnam War. The government promoted coffee production and exports. By the 21st century coffee was only surpassed by rice as a Vietnamese export. The World Bank was instrumental in providing financing to coffee farmers as well as other farmers in Vietnam. Growers in other coffee growing nations blame the recurring excess of coffee supplies on the World Bank and its efforts. Nestle gets much of the caffeine for its various drinks from Vietnamese robusta coffee beans. Vietnam currently produces about 1.7 million tons of Robusta coffee a year.

Drinking Coffee in Vietnam

In Vietnam as in other nations of the world coffee is a social drink. There are coffee shops and coffee is served in restaurants. Coffee is made with a phin, a small cup with a filter chamber to catch the grounds. Grounds are added to the phin and hot water is poured in. the coffee drips into your cup. This is done at the table so you get to wait and watch it happen. Add sweetened condensed milk and you are ready to enjoy coffee in Vietnam. Additional additives to coffee in Vietnam beside condensed milk are eggs, yogurt, butter and cheese. In the capital city of Hanoi a traditional drink is egg coffee which is egg yolk, coffee powder, sweetened condensed milk , butter and cheese. The drink is served hot.

Here is a photo of a Vietnam coffee maker, a phin. Click on the image for more info.

vietnam coffee maker

The Caffeine in Your Soda, etc.

The majority of coffee in Vietnam is used to provide caffeine for various caffeinated beverages but not coffee. Nescafe instant coffee is made with robusta coffee beans, primarily from Vietnam. Nestle is a major buyer of Vietnamese coffee but so are other makers of caffeinated drinks. Other major growers of Robusta coffee for this purpose are Indonesia and Brazil.

Drinking Your Coffee in Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful country and as time has passed since the Vietnam War many Americans have come back, peacefully, to visit. The cities are bustling and the countryside is gorgeous. You can sit in a café and drink your Robusta coffee with sweet and condensed milk or with some of the other more exotic ingredients. Getting around usually requires air travel as there is no interstate system connecting this thousand mile long country from top to bottom.


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