Vietnamese Coffee Culture: Enjoy Coffee the Vietnamese Way


Coffee, once reserved for aristocrats or urban intellectuals, has become a popular beverage, attracting even foreign tourists. And, no matter how many new drinks appear, the habit of drinking coffee has remained consistent over the years. Let’s find out more about Vietnamese coffee habit and coffee trends through out the time.

Coffee intake trends in Vietnam over time

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the nineteenth century. For many, the picture of a coffee toad is synonymous with urban Vietnam, with its plastic chairs and field desks arranged haphazardly on the sidewalk in place of a sign. Many customers of toad cafes look for places that are tucked away in a quiet alley, shaded by a tree, or on a busy street, but still offer them some level of seclusion. A few people sat drinking coffee in silence, others read newspapers or watched passing vehicles.   

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Vietnamese people enjoy toad cafes on the side walk in the morning 

Since the beginning of the 20th century, coffee has been a new drink that has spread from the townspeople to the countryside. Coffee’s community and friendly nature keep people awake and able to do manual as well as mental labor. The coffee shop can adapt to filter coffee for each individual, or coffee brought through a filter pot (percolator), or nel drip coffee soaked in boiling water to serve many people at an affordable price by pre-mixing it.

After that, sidewalk coffee “transformed” the owners rushed to open internet coffee, live music coffee, book coffee or invest more in space and interior decoration. At this moment, Vietnamese people prefer the culture of enjoyment when they drink coffee rather than just drinking it as a refreshment. 

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A coffee shop with beautiful view in Dalat 

Unique features in the culture of enjoying coffee by Vietnamese people 

In many European nations, people drink coffee as a quick pick-me-up when they’ve run out of steam. Vietnam is home to a calming beverage in coffee. Savoring each taste of coffee is a ritual for Vietnamese people. You’ll see many Vietnamese people relaxing and chatting with friends as you wander the streets, and you might even catch them enjoying a cup of coffee now and then.

Some people use their coffee break as a peaceful moment to reflect on their day. They enjoy their coffee in silence as they peruse a book or observe the world go by outside their window. That’s why it’s not uncommon to find a quiet area in Vietnamese coffee stores.

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Drinking coffee as a quiet time to unwind (Egg coffee)

Vietnamese coffee is mostly brewed according to the French style, which uses a filter. After placing powdered coffee in a filter, it is placed on a glass and poured with boiling water. To keep the heat and flavor of the coffee cup, sellers often soak the coffee cup in a bowl of hot water. For Coffee lovers, they enjoy the feeling of watching each drop of concentrated coffee drop. People will slowly sip the aroma and bitterness of coffee after determining that there is enough coffee in the cup to drink.

Differences in Vietnam’s coffee drinking culture of the North – Central – South 

People in the north, particularly in Hanoi, prefer strong black coffee mixed with filtered water. Each shop has its own secret. Some people believe that in order for the coffee to be ready, the filter must be tightly turned before the boiling water is poured. Some people carefully scoop up a bit of boiling water with a spoon and pour it into the filter to give it a rich flavor. Besides, there is another type of coffee known as brown coffee. This coffee is mixed with condensed milk without ice and is used for a large amount of coffee, so it retains its characteristic bitter taste.

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A shop in Hanoi is making strong black coffee

Meanwhile, Saigon people are familiar with lattes because they not only consider coffee to be sipped but also use it as a beverage to quench their thirst, so the southern way of making coffee is quite diluted. Traditionally, coffee powder is put into a thin cloth bag (also known as a racket), placed in an earthenware pot, and then boiled with water like making tea. People in the South don’t often drink strong black coffee, but rather coffee with a little milk, which is called “bac xiu,” or “iced milk coffee”. This is a drink with less coffee and more milk, so it will be sweeter, diluted, and less bitter than northern coffee.  

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A cup of iced milk coffee – A popular drink in Saigon

In the central region, this land has a neutral coffee-drinking culture between the North and the South. Visitors can find a variety of coffee styles here, ranging from sidewalk cafes to sophisticatedly designed luxury cafes. Both black coffee and iced milk coffee are widely available in the central region. Some people like to drink “drip-filtered” coffee, while others like to drink ready-to-drink powdered coffee with a wide range of colors.  

The fantastic taste of Vietnamese Coffee 

People in Vietnam tend to favor a bolder taste profile in their coffee than is common in other parts of the world. To achieve the ideal cup of coffee, several elements must converge: strength, bitterness, fragrance. Whether you take it heated, cold, with milk, or none at all, that’s all up to you! 

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A cup of pure coffee contains a strong flavor: bold, bitter, aromatic…

A good cup of coffee, like a nice memory shared around a coffee table, leaves you feeling elated. The Vietnamese are well-known coffee connoisseurs. All of your senses will be delighted by a cup of coffee. Sensations of sight, scent, sound, and taste. 

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