I am missing the coffee. A tall glass packed with ice cubes and thick, sweet coffee – yummy Ca Phe Sua Da (iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk). Its smooth, sweet and almost tastes like chocolate. One cannot stop at one and after 3 glasses I am ready to take on the world on an incredible caffeine high.
The Ca Phe as coffee is called in Vietnam is everywhere and generally served with a side order of green jasmine tea as a palate cleanser which also does away with coffee breath. Very refined! The traditional drip coffee is served in a small coffee filter placed on top of the cup. The brewing style is low-tech, using a simple metal filter called a Phin, that is essentially a single-serving brewer and filter (just add hot water) The coffee drips slowly down onto the layer of condensed milk, while you sit back and relax. The resulting thick brew can be had hot or poured into a glass with crushed ice.
A step by step tutorial on Vietnamese coffee is here.
Café culture is everywhere from small street side coffee sellers to high-end French café. Rubbing shoulders with French cafés are Pho shops, German Bars and other eating joints, most with free wi-fi. It’s the best place for lazy long sessions with your favourite companions discussing life, the universe and everything.
Coffee was introduced into Vietnam by French colonists in the late 19th century. Vietnam is now the second-largest producer of coffee after Brazil. Now coffee has been adopted with regional variations and due to limitations on the availability of fresh milk, the French and Vietnamese began to use sweetened condensed milk with a dark roast coffee.
Tip on storing coffee: Oxygen deteriorates flavor within hours or days. Keep the bags sealed tightly with an elastic band, or in containers that don’t have much extra air.