Vietnam has a rich history built in coffee, and is historically one of the most important countries involved in the cultivation of coffee. Second only to Brazil, Vietnam is one of the largest coffee producers in the world – which comes as a surprise to many.
Vietnam has been fine tuning their coffee methods and production since the 1700’s when the Dutch and French first introduced coffee into Southeast Asia. It was found that Vietnam’s geography actually provides the perfect location for many different types of coffee to be grown. Its mountainous regions and altitudes provide the perfect coffee growing recipe, if you will. Half a dozen species and varieties of coffee are grown here, such as Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, Liberica, and Catimor.
So, what makes the Vietnamese mountainous regions so special for growing some of the world’s best coffee? Well, it has a lot to do with the complex and unique topography of Vietnam, which actually creates micro climates in different areas, essentially making some of the best multi-origin bean blending possible. If you’re looking for a diverse range of flavors in your cup, superb mouth feel, heavenly aroma, and aftertaste leaving you desiring more coffee – Vietnamese blends are the way to go.
The Vietnamese roasting techniques also have a great deal to do with the delicious flavor of the coffee. Beans are often roasted in a type of butter oil, and occasionally a vegetable oil. Sometimes even a small touch of sugar, vanilla, or cocoa are added to give the beans a caramel like coating. This was traditionally done because sometimes Robusta beans were picked before completely ripening, therefore this method gave each bean a shell-like coating that gave off the same color. However, many modern growers no longer do this, and instead opt to pick only fully ripened beans and only use the oil to coat the beans before roasting to promote thorough and even roasting.
Vietnamese grinding and brewing techniques are also imperative in providing the perfect cup, although these techniques are not unique only to Vietnam but popular in many Southeast Asian countries. First, it starts with the grind – a course, almost like that used for a French Press, grind. Then coffee is placed in a low-tech metal phin filter, which is a single serve brewer, and hot water is added. This brewing technique is also said to make the most amazing iced coffee.
So, next time you’re at your local micro-roaster or farmers market – ask for some Vietnamese coffee! We’ve been told that THIS is the way coffee was meant to taste.