Saturday, May 1, 2010

Drinks Around the World: Slow Drip Coffee (Vietnam)

With a friend working in the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, I travelled to Vietnam in the very early 1990s - well before there was any semblance of a tourism structure. It was difficult to get around the country at all and to visit any sights outside of the major cities. Despite that, it was one of my finest travel experiences with incredible expressions of generosity and friendship.

Saying all that, one of my endearing memories is of the superb Vietnamese coffee, introduced by the French in the 1800s at a favourite Hanoi cafe crowded with an eclectic mix of staff from various embassies, local cyclo drivers and small groups of friends. Slow drip coffee (cà phê sữa nóng) is produced by sitting a contraption that looks like a metallic top-hat over a cup with warmed sweet condensed milk. The drip filter contains coarse coffee grounds which are tightly compacted with a screw lid mechanism. Pouring near boiling water into the drip filter slowly produces a flavoursome strong brew. The tighter the grounds are compacted the slower the drip rate and the stronger the coffee (it takes at least five minutes for a good cup). Stirring the resultant mix of the syrupy condensed milk and rich coffee produces an ideal silky smooth breakfast treat, which I enjoyed on many mornings.

Strangely served with jasmine tea (coffee with a tea chaser?) it was one of many culinary highlights in this stunning south-east Asian country.

Also popular, though I never had enough confidence in the ice to try it, is Vietnamese iced coffee made using the same technique but with ice to make an apparently delicious creamy and refreshing afternoon beverage.
----------
Travel Wonders highlights a characteristic drink experienced on his travels. Previous non-alcoholic Drinks Around the World include Mint Tea from Morocco, Coca Tea from Peru and Austria's herby Almdudler.

Photo Source: Coffee

16 comments:

Michael said...

Sounds like you caught Vietnam at a good time then. I'm now craving coffee because of your article. If only I could catch a flight right now to Vietnam.

andrewsmith said...

vow it sounds good so how it good while drinking!!yummy!!my mouth gets watery....

N.T.L said...

Slow drip coffee is popular in The north and mid of Vietnam. In the South of Vietnam, Ice coffee is more popular.
It's exciting while drink coffee on side walk.

sunita said...

Not bad…a taste of coffee and a pleasant stay at a new historical place called Vietnam…I wish, I would go to Vietnam, will definitely try your style of sipping coffee..

Nisha said...

It is very similar to south Indian filter coffee. Hoy boiling water is poured on coffee powder, the jar is also similar.

BarbaraW said...

Oh yummmmmm! I remember the first time I had this in Vietnam and can still conjure up the taste. Funny how strong a sense smell is; it can conjure up memories faster than any other sense, I think.

jessiev said...

sounds yummy!

Wanderluster said...

Vietnamese coffee is pure heaven - so luscious and rich! Thanks for the vivid post.

Mark H said...

@michael: Some great memories of Vietnam but recalled frustrations at not being able to get to places outside the towns (like Halong Bay).

@andrewsmith: My mouth watered as I wrote it. I've never had one since those days in Vietnam.

@NTL: I had most of my coffees in Hanoi. Thank you for the additional information.

@sunita: The aromas from the cafes were wonderful as coffess brewed over five minutes.

Mark H said...

@nisha: I drank tea when I visited India but it could well be similar. I think the Vietnamese coffee is French influenced (I recall that their pastries and breads were superb too).

@BarbaraW: Funny you mention the smell as I have that distinct memory too after so many years.

@jessiev: Very yummy indeed, though a little sweet for my personal tastes (I sometimes had to tip some of the condensed milk out for fear of making it TOO sweet).

Donna Hull said...

This coffee sounds delightful. I'm sure if I ever try it, I will be addicted. Too bad Starbucks.

Sherry Ott said...

After living there a year I became addicted to the iced version which was a must in HCMC as it's much warmer in the south! I brought a couple of my own 'coffee makers' home with me - but it's not the same as getting it on the street!

Heather on her travels said...

I'm not a great coffee drinker but if it's creamy and sweet that would be fun and why not refresh the palate with a cup of tea?

Mark H said...

@Donna: Much better than Starbucks!!

@Sherry: They must be superb on a hot Vietnamese afternoon.

@heather: The coffee is still strong in the brews that I had.

carl said...

My wife is Vietnamese from Hue. We traveled to Vietnam in June of 2008. I fell in love with the "French Drip" coffee after the first cup. The first thing I did when we came home was go to the local asian market and bought a Frencn Dip container and some Vietnamese Coffee. It is the only coffee I drink now. We are going back in Oct and I can't wait. Looking forward also to the 40 cent Dutch beer and $5 massages. The $5 all boat tour around the Perfume river was excellent. The Vietnamese are so kind and generious.

Mark H said...

@carl: Sounds like you are a real Vietnam-phile. I also had a fantastic experience of generousity when I visited and I agree that their slow drip coffee is so memorable.

 
Related Posts with Thumbnails