Being coffee lovers, we wanted to find a really good solution to having good coffee wherever we are in the world. We settled on using an Aeropress for our travels; it’s light, durable, easy to clean and makes great French press style coffee. We decided that it would be really nice to try beans from local producers in the various countries we travel to. We are also travelling with a grinder; a ceramic coffee mill skerton by Hario.
This combination has enabled us to drink delicious coffee wherever we are. The benefit of the grinder means that you can ensure you have freshly ground beans and the coffee won’t go stale, although we have found this model is slightly bulky, weighing about 460g. Changing the grind setting is really straight forward and if you grind more than you need, you can seal it with the screw top lid to retain the freshness. I actually find that grinding beans by hand adds a therapeutic completeness to your morning coffee experience… Gotta work those morning guns!
Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil. The quality of the beans, however, has typically limited their marketability. Most of their beans are used for instant coffee as the country predominantly produces Robusta beans, known for their low acidity but high bitterness. For this reason they are not a great option if you are picky coffee connoisseurs like us! We found this out the hard way by buying 300g of Robusta beans and forcing ourselves to drink most of it! Condensed milk helped a lot.
I think it is for this reason that the Vietnamese have come up with so many different ways to drink coffee to counteract the inherent bitter taste of the most commonly available beans. One speciality is Egg Coffee, Cà Phê Trứng, made from beating egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk and adding to black coffee, served hot or cold. Our favourite was at Cafe Giang 1946, http://www.giangcafehanoi.com/
Other coffee variations include yoghurt coffee, the best we experienced in Hanoi at Cafe Duy Trí, 43A Yên Phụ, Tây Hồ. This café doesn’t look like much from the outside, it’s pretty dingy, but is like stepping into a time warp, the décor and atmosphere feels like you have jumped back to the 1930s! Here the yoghurt was frozen so it was a little like a slightly tangy affogato.
Although it was great to try these new types of coffee, we didn’t have the means to be able to recreate these coffees on the road. Following our Robusta disaster we found a great coffee shop in Hanoi called kafeville and bought their best 100 % Arabica beans from Dalat. Expect to pay Western prices! These good quality beans were not cheap … VND 450000 for 100g. However, they had a beautifully nutty aroma and medium acidity. We were very happy to have found good coffee once again!
The best region for growing coffee in Vietnam is Dalat. If you want to experience something really rustic, just get yourself lost in a coffee plantation (as in our Dalat blog) and hitch a ride with the farmers on a truck! But for a great café and to obtain the best Arabica beans, you must go to La Viet Coffee, 200 Đà Lạt,, Nguyễn Công Trứ, Phường 8, Tp. Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng. We bought a bag of their signature espresso and loved it.
Keep your eye out for our Australian Coffee blog coming soon…