Why the world is waking as much as Vietnamese espresso

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(CNN) — Rob Atthill says he was “smitten” by Vietnamese espresso the primary time he visited the Southeast Asian nation, in 2004.

A pioneer of the Vietnamese avenue meals scene in London, Atthill began importing espresso — grown by farmers within the nation’s Central Highlands and roasted in Ho Chi Minh City — two years later. He says espresso gross sales, by his firm Ca Phe VN, have tripled within the final 5 years.

Vietnam is the world’s second largest exporter of espresso (after Brazil).

Coffee with a view in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Coffee with a view in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Luong Thai Linh/EPA/Shutterstock

The drink can be extraordinarily standard at house, the place it was first launched by French colonists within the 1850s.

For the Vietnamese, espresso offers way more than only a shot of power — it is a lifestyle. Coffee shops vary from hole-in-the-wall counters with plastic stools on the sidewalk, to modern, modern cafes with roasters on the premises.

“It’s about getting together with friends,” says Will Frith, a espresso advisor who owns a co-roasting enterprise in Ho Chi Minh City. He says espresso drinkers have a tendency to collect of their favourite espresso retailers, which function as “a third space,” exterior the house and office, and infrequently kind friendships with the homeowners and employees. Additionally, “nearly every Vietnamese household makes coffee at home,” he says.
Coffee cherries are harvested -- usually by hand -- between November and February.

Coffee cherries are harvested — often by hand — between November and February.


But regardless of the dimensions of its export gross sales, and its vibrant native espresso tradition, Vietnam has not gained a fame as a supply of high quality espresso. And that is due to the beans.

The majority of Vietnam’s espresso beans — around 97% — are the robusta selection.

Known for his or her daring, earthy, bitter taste, and excessive caffeine content material, robusta beans are sometimes used to make low-cost, mass-market merchandise, together with immediate espresso and grocery store blends.

Bulk enterprise has given them a foul fame within the high-end, specialty espresso market. Coffee connoisseurs often go for arabica beans, which have much less caffeine, greater acidity, and a lighter, sweeter taste.

Atthill says this perspective is outdated: “There’s a lot of snobbery against robusta in the coffee industry … but there’s no inferiority. Arabica is not inherently better.”

What issues, Atthill says, is the standard of the beans.

“There’s high quality robusta and poor quality arabica.”

Ca Phe VN’s home mix, which Atthill describes as “nutty, chocolatey, strong but approachable” accounts for 90% of his gross sales. The mix combines 85% robusta beans, which give physique and taste, with a splash of arabica, which provides acidity, complexity and aroma, he says.

Sahra Nguyen launched Nguyen Coffee Supply in Brooklyn, New York, in 2018. She buys espresso beans from a family-run farm in Vietnam’s Central Highlands and roasts them herself.

Like Atthill, Nguyen needs to remodel the fame of the unfairly maligned robusta bean. She lately added Grit — a 100% robusta product — to her vary, and has carried out blind style assessments wherein prospects pattern Grit alongside two of her different coffees: Loyalty — produced from 50% robusta and 50% arabica beans; and Courage, which is 100% arabica.

Sahra Nguyen visiting a coffee farm in Vietnam's Central Highlands (left) and drinking a Vietnamese coffee in New York (right).

Sahra Nguyen visiting a espresso farm in Vietnam’s Central Highlands (left) and ingesting a Vietnamese espresso in New York (proper).

Nguyen Coffee Supply

Overall, greater than three quarters of testers most popular Grit. The response “blew me away,” says Nguyen.

Vietnamese espresso has additionally returned to its roots in France. Husband-and-wife workforce, Nam and Linh Nguyen, opened Hanoi Corner in central Paris two years in the past. Along with espresso, the café affords Vietnamese tea, muffins and streetfood staples.

Vietnam has “a unique coffee culture” says Nam Nguyen, an award-winning barista. “We wanted to introduce it in France … where nobody knows it,” he says.

At the identical time, specialty espresso is gaining affect again house.

Frith says a brand new era of Vietnamese espresso roasters and cafe entrepreneurs are specializing in high quality — taking note of terroir, discussing cultivation strategies with farmers and adopting finest practices relating to processing strategies.

In the previous few years, a pattern in the direction of refined inside design has added to the thrill, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, the place he lives.

“Coffee shops here are becoming as diverse and fancy as anything you’d find in London or New York,” he says.

What’s on the menu?

In Vietnam, you possibly can have much more added to your espresso moreover milk and sugar. Here are among the standard concoctions on provide:

Vietnamese egg coffee is strong, sweet and delicious.

Vietnamese egg espresso is robust, candy and scrumptious.


Salt espresso cà phê muối

This culinary trick, developed within the historic metropolis of Hue, brings out the sweetness of espresso by including salt whipped with fermented milk.

Egg espresso cà phê trứng

Invented in Hanoi, this dessert-like recipe provides a topping of egg yolks, frothed with condensed milk, to a espresso base.

Coconut espresso cà phê cốt dừa

Coffee is mixed with coconut milk and ice to create a scrumptious shake.

Fruit espresso sinh tố cà phê

Coffee is mixed with banana or avocado to provide a smoothie — get your repair of caffeine and nutritional vitamins in a single tall glass.

Yoghurt espresso sữa chua cà phê

Black espresso is drizzled onto Vietnam’s creamy yoghurt — one other French legacy.

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