I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker however I’d consumed the most amount of caffeine in my life during my time in Vietnam. 3~4 cups of coffee, daily. If you know Vietnamese coffee then you know they’re not like your typical black coffee, these coffee are very strong, usually brewed using flavored beans.
Instead of espresso, they do coffee drip style using a Vietnamese metal coffee filter. It packs in more coffee grounds than espresso and drips much slower which extracts more caffeine and a very different flavor and aroma.
What are the first few coffee items that comes to mind when you’re ordering at a coffee store?
Most of them are just espresso with more milk, less milk, with foam, without foam, with more water, without water.
Now look at a few items we’ve tried in Vietnam:
Coffee with “milk” (Ca Phe Sua) – strong brew coffee with a big spoon of condensed milk
Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung) – No, it’s not a mistranslation, it really IS egg with coffee. A specialty belongs to northern Vietnam, they are everywhere in Hanoi! An egg yolk is whipped with condensed milk to create this lovely fluffy, foamy, sweet, eggy head on top of the black coffee. It’s very interesting, I described it as a very-strong, drinkable, eggy tiramisu. There’s no word to describe the experience really, you’ve got to try it yourself and it really grows on you. Have it hot or cold. We liked ours cold.
Yogurt Coffee (Sua Chua Ca Phe) – YES, almost a whole cup of yogurt with crushed ice and a dash of coffee on top. It sounded so weird but tasted so good then I was hooked. It became my go-to coffee drink during my time in Vietnam. The yogurt coffee is still sweet, but the tartness cuts through the sweetness and worked amazingly well with the coffee. Ca phe sua became too sweet for my taste after a few days in Vietnam and Sua chua ca phe was the perfect substitution!
Coconut Coffee (Ca Phe Sua) – A combination of condensed milk and coconut milk topped with coffee.
As for places for a good cup of coffee, here are a few ideas.
- Café Phố Cổ, Hanoi – a cute coffee shop that allows you to hide away from the chaotic streets. Lakeview and with any kind of coffee you might want to try while in Vietnam. We loved the décor, the rooster, the chirping birds and the super cuddly big kitty. Not the easiest location to find though, it’s hidden in an alley way next to a few silk shops.
- Like Coffee, Cat Ba – super friendly owner, he customized what wasn’t on the menu for us. Fruit drinks were made fresh and they also had espresso drinks if you’ve had enough of Vietnamese-style coffee. Occasionally there’s a masseuse that hangs out at the shop, what’s better than getting a coffee and a back massage at the same time?
- Coffee Street, Hanoi – there’s a coffee shop in every corner in Hanoi, but this street takes it up to another level. Café and café right next to each other, take your pick on a coffee shop, sip on a good cup of joe and watch the world go by.