Vietnamese coffee has always instilled interest among coffee lovers across the globe. The country has always been one of the largest exporters of premium-quality coffee globally, second only to Brazil.
While most of the world consumes coffee made from Arabica coffee beans, Vietnam is known for its Robusta variant. It’s the only country to produce and export Robusta coffee, unlike Brazil, which primarily exports the Arabica variant.
So what’s the reason behind the hype with Vietnamese coffee? Read on to find out more about traditional Vietnamese coffee and why it’s so special.
What’s So Special About Vietnamese Coffee?
Unlike the serial Starbucks fans accustomed to the mellow taste of Arabica coffee, Robusta has a burnt and thick lingering taste and high acidity. The main reason for this is a higher percentage of caffeine in the Robusta beans, i.e., 2.7 wt. It’s almost double the 1.5 of the Arabica beans. Not only that, the Vietnamese traditional coffee beans contain almost 60 percent less lipid and sugar than the Arabica beans, giving them a more crisp and sharp bitterness from the caffeine.
Another factor that adds to the distinctiveness of Vietnamese Robusta coffee is its making process. Traditional Vietnamese coffee is always drip coffee. In Vietnam, you’ll find an aluminum drip filter on top of your coffee cup. The dripping process makes Vietnamese coffee unique. According to the Vietnamese, the slow dripping process can only be achieved if someone knows their coffee by heart. They regard the process of setting up the filter properly and choosing the time of drinking the strong black coffee as an art.
The Robusta beans are overtoasted to achieve that sharp, rich taste, and it is generally consumed in the form of cà phê sữa đá. Cà phê sữa đá or Vietnamese iced coffee is made by adding ice and condensed milk to the slow dripped black coffee. Vietnamese coffee is also known for using sugary and thick condensed milk in the coffee to balance out the bitterness of the beans when served both hot and cold.
Vietnamese people like their coffee in this way, unlike the mellow and easy drinking Arabica variety the rest of the world is accustomed to. The funny thing is that even Starbucks in Vietnamese realized this fact and started serving the local variety of coffee instead of the generic Arabica variety.
There’s no denying that Vietnamese coffee holds a significant position among the locals that they even have a phrase, “Đi uống cà phê” which translates to “go drink coffee.” According to locals, Vietnamese coffee is not just a drink but a ritual as it’s an invitation to someone to come and have a chat while sipping the dark, rich coffee. This is because they believe that watching the coffee drip not only gives you a chance to converse with your coffee companion but also makes you savor the process, increasing the desire for the coffee. We’re accustomed to the instantaneous nature of coffee, so sitting back and relaxing while our coffee is being prepared is a different experience altogether, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.
There’s more to the famous Vietnamese coffee than its rich, strong taste and higher caffeine percentage. Robusta coffee beans pack more antioxidants than the common Arabica variant. While the Arabica beans have 5 to 8 percent of chlorogenic Acid, Robusta coffee has a higher percentage, around 7 to 10 percent.
So next time you’re in Vietnam or any cafe that serves traditional Vietnamese coffee, don’t forget to try robust coffee, especially if you’re a coffee lover who loves his drink rich and strong.