For many visitors coming to Vietnam, trying our much-talked about drip coffee is an essential part of their journey. Our Robusta beans have a unique, bitter taste that can charm just about anyone. However, Vietnamese coffee also possesses a rich history and culture.
Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by a French Catholic priest who brought an Arabica tree to the northern region. With a tropical climate that’s ideal for cultivating coffee, the industry started to boom in the Annam region in the 1890s. Over the next decades, coffee plantations began to grow in the highland region. By 1950, Vietnam’s first commercial coffee processing plant was built, propelling hopes for a new industry that would put Vietnam on the map.
The industry further expanded when the Doi Moi economic reforms were introduced in 1987, following the 20-year war. Vietnam signed agreements with countries near and far, opening the Southeast Asian nation for trade. By the 90s, Vietnam rose to become the world’s second-largest exporter of coffee, outpacing Colombia
Today, coffee production and export are a major economic force, contributing a significant share of Vietnam’s GDP. Vietnam currently counts for 8.3% of the global coffee export market share, exporting over 3 billion USD worth of coffee in 2021. As the industry sees continued growth, an estimated 3 million people depend on it for living.
Vietnamese coffee is traditionally roasted dark, resulting in a strong, intense and rich flavor. As coffee became popular across Vietnamese regions, the process of roasting evolved in various ways.
Historically, the coffee beans are roasted in caramel-like oil (a mixture of sugar, vanilla and cocoa) to give them a sweet coating and unique flavor. In contemporary Vietnam, the use of butter oil in roasting has become increasingly popular to help the beans roast more evenly.
At Nam Coffee, we pay careful attention to all the tiny details to achieve perfection. We only roast premium, light Robusta beans at lower temperatures for longer periods of time to ensure that every bean gets a nice coat of oil. All the ingredients used in roasting are organic and thoughtfully selected.
An evolving culture
There’s probably no street in Vietnam without a cheerful “dì” (Auntie) selling coffee in a mobile cart. The number of traditional and modern cafes is also growing by the day, each introducing the “best” ca phe sua da or iced coffee with milk. It’s also easy to spot two men sitting on a small red chair facing a busy street, with the classic black coffee dripping from the phin filter.
Egg coffee is also gaining traction among foreign visitors. A mixture of egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and Robusta coffee, this sweet cup is perfect for a mid-day break. Egg coffee was initially produced in response to a milk shortage in Hanoi back in 1946.
Over the years, new styles of Vietnamese coffee have been popularized. There’s coconut coffee, yogurt coffee, banana-avocado coffee blend, and a lot more.
These changes demonstrate how the Vietnamese coffee culture is continuously evolving.
Who knows what blends and variants people will come up with in the future?
To get a taste of Vietnamese coffee right here in the US, Nam Coffee currently offers three products all made with Grade A whole beans imported from Vietnam and roasted in Southern California. For an authentic Vietnamese coffee experience try our Da Lat, District One, or Orange County varieties.