Vietnamese coffee – an introduction

I came from a family which has a tradition of running a coffee shop. My grandma coffee shop was the most famous in town at the time American soldiers were hanging out on Sai Gon street, like in the movie Full Metal Jacket. My Dad now is running his own coffee shop which is selling up to 300 cups of coffee a day. I could say, coffee is in my blood.  When I was little, I love the smell of my grandma house every time she roasted her coffee in the old cast iron roaster. It smelled wonderful, even with a little child who wasn’t allowed to drink coffee yet. My Dad told me that our family secret ingredient to the roasted coffee was “butter and fish sauce”. I didn’t understand it at the time but I remember seeing the coffee beans came out very shiny and smelled wonderful. Turning out, it was very common to use butter in high end coffee at the time. And until now, I still found butter roasted coffee at a very famous coffee maker in Da Lat. The owner was very proud to decorate her coffee stand with several cans of Bretel Butter, to prove that they used real butter in roasting their coffee. Today, you properly heard about a new trend of adding grass-fed butter into coffee, so call “the bulletproof coffee”. When I saw the making of bulletproof coffee, I wanted to scream in happiness, finally, butter and coffee were’ a “bizarre food” anymore. I haven’t experienced the fish sauce part yet but my Dad explained that the Vietnamese at the time love to have their coffee a bit salty and savory. We do agree that butter and fish sauce made everything taste better. Author Andrea Nguyen has a very nice article about Bretel Butter on her blog

Coffee was introduced into Vietnam in 1857 by a French Catholic priest. At the time, milk wasn’t familiar to the Vietnamese diet so sweet condensed milk was a perfect choice because it lasts for a long time in the hot and humid weather. The French brought coffee to Vietnam, the Vietnamese embraced it and turned Vietnam into one of the top coffee exporters in the world. You can find coffee shops everywhere, on every corner in Vietnam. People will ask each other “Đi uống cà phê”, mean to go to get a drink, to go to the coffee shop, to hang out. It doesn’t matter what type of drinks you will have.

Coffee is grown mostly in the highland of Lâm Đồng Province and Buôn Ma Thuột Province of Vietnam.

Here is one of the vintage cast iron coffee roasters in the showroom of Trâm Anh Tea & Coffee in Bảo Lộc.

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A vintage coffee grinder in their showroom.

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My Dad and his family coffee shop. He always makes the coffee himself, every day from 3 am. The loyal customer insisted that just my Dad could make coffee the way they like it.IMG_3820 copy

Hand pour one by one, exactly amount of boil water each round, then repeated.


A garden type coffee house in Vietnam


Kopi Luwak Coffee which I tried in Da Lat. Around $900/kg. I tasted the  Kopi Luwak with the siphon brewing method as the suggestion. The coffee appeared light, smooth with a fruity taste. I tried this coffee just to satisfy my curiosity but I don’t like the method of abusing the animal to produce this kind of coffee.



As much as I would love to share with you the colorful culture of Vietnamese Coffee, it is nothing can compare to experiencing it yourself. So next time if you come to Vietnam, please enjoy coffee any time during the day, to make friends and to have the energy for your next adventure.

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