Ho Chi Minh Coffee Guide: 5 things you need to know about it’s coffee culture

Coffee drinking is a culture all on its own in Vietnam. It was first introduced into the country in 1857 by a French Catholic priest in the form of a single Coffea arabica tree. From then on, Vietnam never stopped growing their own beans and is even an exporter to different countries around the world.

If you plan to visit Vietnam, drinking their coffee is a must! And here are a couple of things that you need to know so you won't seem like a newbie, even if you are.

1. The milk used is not fresh milk.

Trung Nguyen Coffee – 211 Nguyễn Thái Học & Phạm Ngũ Lão, Foursquare.com

One of the things that you'd notice about Vietnamese coffee is that the milk that they use for their coffee is not fresh milk, but sweetened condensed milk. Wondering why? This is because during the early period, availability of fresh milk is scarce. This is due to the fact that the dairy farming industry was still in its infancy. So the French and Vietnamese used sweetened condensed milk and didn't change from then on.

Name:
Trung Nguyen Coffee - 211 Nguyễn Thái Học & Phạm Ngũ Lão
Address:
211 Nguyen Thai Hoc (Pham Ngu Lao), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HP:
Foursquare.com

2. Pop-up cafes.

When I say pop-up, I don't really mean popping out of nowhere. What I actually meant was that if you're in a cafe in Vietnam and all the seats inside are taken, don't worry. The owners and serving staff will start bringing out small chairs and tables and just put them on the street front of the coffee shop. Yes, this is totally legal and acceptable in Vietnam, and yes, you can just sit there and order.

Name:
Cafe Vy
Address:
277A Lê Thánh Tôn, district 1 (Lê Anh Xuân), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HP:
Foursquare.com

3. So many to choose from!

Menu from Cafe Vy

Because Vietnam produces the Robusta kind of coffee, they are able to serve this consistently, in different kinds. And if you look at a menu, you'd probably go crazy because you cannot understand how one small stall can serve so many kinds.

Here is a little tip for you:

Cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk)
Cà phê đen đá (iced black coffee)
Cà phê sữa nóng (hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk)
Cà phê đen nóng (hot black coffee)

Name:
Cafe Vy
Address:
277A Lê Thánh Tôn, district 1 (Lê Anh Xuân), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HP:
Foursquare.com

4. Vietnam's own design of coffee filter

Trung Nguyen Coffee – 211 Nguyễn Thái Học & Phạm Ngũ Lão, Foursquare.com

The filter is called phin and are made in two sizes, 120ml and 300ml. Though the size can vary, the filter is made of the same core parts. A main brewing chamber with a filter at the bottom, a press down spreader to push coffee down, and a lid that's also a drip catcher stand when done.

Name:
Trung Nguyen Coffee - 211 Nguyễn Thái Học & Phạm Ngũ Lão
Address:
211 Nguyen Thai Hoc (Pham Ngu Lao), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HP:
Foursquare.com

5. Better than big coffee chains

Highlands Coffee, Foursquare.com

Highlands Coffee, Foursquare.com

If you're a coffee lover like me, you've probably tasted all of the coffees in the big chains. Though each coffee is different, not only because of the kind of bean used, but also because of the way they are brewed, the materials used for brewing, and even the other ingredients used in making them - all contribute to the differences in tastes, quality and texture. But trust me, I haven't tasted anything like Vietnamese coffee in these popular coffee chains.

Name:
Highlands Coffee
Address:
Somerset Tower, Mac Dinh Chi St, D1 (Nguyen Thi Minh Khai), Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
HP:
Foursquare.com

Conclusion

If you ever find yourself wandering in Vietnam, try their coffee. If you find that the bigger chains' coffee is better, then that's the only time you can refute me, and probably a million others who have attested that Vietnamese coffee is the best coffee in the world.

Author

Geninna
5 things I can't live without: coffee, books, my iPod, wifi, and my husband :D Born and raised in Manila, Philippines but I've lived in Qatar, Indonesia, and the UAE. I am currently living in Romania, and I have been on vacations to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam :) And does a stop over in Bahrain and Germany count?