Around Vietnam by coffee

I may have previously mentioned (harped on about, bored everyone to tears with) my love of Vietnamese coffee. Not only is it thick, potent and delicious, it’s also cheap and can be presented in a stunning array of visual and gustatory styles.

Traditional drip coffee

Traditional drip coffee

Street cafe ca phe

Street cafe ca phe

The most common option is ca phe den da, or black, iced coffee. I suspect this is closely followed by ca phe sua, which you would probably recognise as the thick, creamy coffee and condensed milk drink often billed as Vietnamese coffee around the world. The difference is in the beans; I’ve been horribly disappointed outside Vietnam by coffee which does the sticky-sweet milk, but uses regular arabica-based blends. Within Vietnam, any coffee billed as Vietnamese will use robusta, moka, or blends drawing on these aromatic and intense flavours.

coffee and sides

coffee and sides

My favoured cup is ca phe den nong – or black, hot coffee. In any small, local cafe (even the stalls on the street) this is usually accompanied by a glass of iced tea, often jasmine, barley or plain green.

The default setting for all coffee is apparently so sugary the spoon can stand in the cup unaided, and despite diligently looking up the phrase for “no sugar” không đường, my grasp of complex Vietnamese pronunciation rules has rendered it useless in 100% of coffee shops. Fortunately, up to 75% of coffee shops get “no sugar” and lots of gesturing. In the remainder, I just relax and enjoy a sugar rush along with the caffeine injection. It keeps me merrily sightseeing for hours.

Although I fear this is a post worthy of the lowest moments of Instagram’s obsessive food snappers, I’m going to share my collection of coffees from the last two months’ travels. My collection started when I was served a mysterious ‘egg coffee’ in a cup perched on what looked like an oil burner. Sure enough, disturb the surface and there was an egg-yolk smiling up at you. I waited until the tea light under the cup had ensured a healthy boil and then tucked into what basically tasted like advocaat coffee. Heaven! Except for the subsequent cup where I encountered the Bad Egg (no burner is what I figure did the damage) and ended up off solid food for a week.

Below are some of the coffees and cafes I’ve enjoyed on my travels.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angie
    Mar 25, 2016 @ 21:23:40

    That coffee sounds like how coffee is meant to be. Not so sure about the egg part, but I shouldn’t pass judgement without having tried it.

    Liked by 1 person


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