Coffee is a staple in Vietnam, typically enjoyed after every meal and in the morning. Vietnamese coffee culture is unique, giving it a special place among coffee cultures around the world. Below are five significant characteristics that distinguish Vietnamese coffee from the rest.
Dominant Robusta Beans
Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is made from Robusta beans, though you could get a lighter roast by using Arabica beans. The strong caffeine content of Robusta beans plus the fact that Vietnam produces the largest amount of Robusta coffee in the world makes them a popular choice for coffee drinkers in Vietnam.
If you are enjoying a tour in Vietnam, then you should know that a strong Vietnamese coffee is the most prominent morning, noon, and late-night caffeine option in Vietnam's cities.
Characteristic Dark Roast
The first thing you need to know about strong Vietnamese coffee is that it is roasted to a very dark color. The darkest roasts are arguably some of the most popular options for Vietnamese coffee drinkers.
You can also get light or medium-dark roast varieties. Notably, if you're used to drinking lighter roasts, and especially Arabica beans that are more popular with western brewers, switching to Vietnamese coffee means that you should be prepared for a much stronger taste and higher caffeine content.
Typical Coarse Grind
One thing that makes Vietnamese coffee so unique is that the beans are not ground finely. Instead, they are a coarse grind, which means you will have to use a coffee press or another tool to brew your cup.
Because most Vietnamese coffee is for use in traditional phin filters, it is typically very coarse.
Traditional Phin Filter
Vietnamese coffee is usually prepared using a conical or cylindrical traditional filter called a 'phin.' These phin filters are different from western-style espresso machines because they are more efficient and are used mainly for brewing Vietnamese coffee.
The coffee is brewed in the phin through thin, fine-mesh paper. The length of the phin and the flow rate and strength of the drip provide different results.
The phin filter has two separate chambers that work together to give you an even brew of coffee. To use the phin filter, you will need coarsely ground coffee beans in both chambers and hot water to pour over them. To avoid clogging the filters, you should not shake the filters or compress the coffee - the process calls for patience!
You may also have to repeat the process at least two times to get enough coffee and extract all of the flavor.
Unique Bittersweet Taste
Being predominantly dark-roasted Robusta beans, this strong Vietnamese coffee is quite bitter. This is one factor that differentiates Vietnamese coffee from other types.
To enjoy a cup of Vietnam’s Robusta coffee, a popular option is to serve it with sweetened condensed milk. Combined with the bitter taste of the coffee, the sweetened condensed milk creates a complex flavor that you won't find in your average cup of coffee.
The milk's sweetness makes a more pleasant drinking experience by balancing out the bitter, caffeine-rich coffee.
Other popular coffees in Vietnam include yoghurt coffee, coconut coffee, coffee smoothies, and egg coffee.
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