Curiosities – Vietnam: Coffee
I may have mentioned in a previous post that Vietnam is the second biggest exporter of rice in the world. Second only to rice in terms of export value is Vietnam’s coffee. As someone who loves drinking coffee, arguably to excess, I honestly didn’t know this, or had forgotten.
One of the many objectives I had for my trip around the world was to quit drinking coffee. I guess I still have another month left to do this…
In any case, the coffee here in Vietnam is astoundingly good. It’s also served in a very unique way – cold and with lashings of sweet condensed milk. This is the sight that I beheld one afternoon at a coffee shop on a street in Hoi An:
The coffee drip-filters from the metal container into the glass mug. You then pour the mug into the condensed milk and stir. next, you break up the ice and put it into the mug before pouring the mixture back over the ice. Apparently, it’s very important that it is done this way around for some reason – the owner of the coffee shop interrupted me to correct my coffee technique.
The coffee packs a real punch too! In fact, I realised we didn’t have one of these little gizmos at home, so I bought two to go with our numerous other coffee-brewing devices, along with a couple of cinnamon-bark boxes to hold coffee.
Another interesting facet of Vietnamese coffee is Weasel Coffee. Astonishingly, I didn’t know about this (although I had heard of cat coffee). Weasel coffee is produced by feeding coffee berries to weasels, who then digest the berry, infuse the beans with stomach enzymes and defecate the beans into the inviting hands of the roaster. Apparently, it’s really good and probably the most expensive coffee in the world. I don’t think this is the real product – it’s far too cheap (45,000 Vietnamese Dong are worth about £1.50):
Not peculiar to Vietnam was this vacuum coffee maker. I had never seen such a thing before, so I think it counts as a new experience on my Vietnam Coffee odyssey. The oil burner heats water that rises into the upper chamber and brews coffee. After a time, all the water is in the top of the device. Removing the heat source generates a vacuum in the lower chamber, which sucks the brewed coffee down into the lower chamber, from which you pour the coffee.
So, you really can’t blame me for not quitting coffee, can you? I even bought some at a market to bring back – lovely and aromatic and oily. Quite unlike anything I’ve seen in the UK. It will be delicious over ice and condensed milk!