Oh boy! I love coffee! Its smell, its flavour and its beautiful dark colour. I love everything about it but I decided to give it a break. I realised that I’m an addict but I feel I still have time to do something about it. I’m not the kind of person who can’t start a day without coffee (on the other hand it grosses me out when I’m so dehydrated after not drinking for about 8 hours) and I don’t think it has a significant effect on my energy level. My body doesn’t need it. But my soul…. that’s a different question. Coffee means taking an active break from something. I drink it when I’m busy and want to recharge (or when I pretend to be busy and want to convince myself that after a cup I’ll be much more effective). Tea is for when I want to relax. Full stop. And while my body is completely fine without this dark liquid my mind often wanders to dangerous terrain. So to keep it busy I decided to write about what she likes. Coffee.
I must say, I’m very lucky for a coffee addict as I had the chance to live in two countries that are famous for their coffee and while Italy beats Vietnam (at least in my opinion)there are some gems among Vietnamese coffees. The thought of the coconut-ice coffee that you can buy in Hanoi brought back some memories so I decided to do a miniseries (with two parts) and dedicate this first one to Vietnam. So here are my favourite and not so favourite beverages from Hanoi.
- Iced coffee condensed milk
This was the first drink I got after landing in Hanoi. Or to be exact, after I was brave enough to cross the road to get to the cafe. I was jet lagged and exhausted and this strong, sugary drink was a lifesaver. It is a bit too sweet to my taste so once I was experienced enough I always told the “barrista” to add less condensed milk. It is the perfect choice for those who are not a huge fan of coffee but want to get familiar with Vietnamese beverages, as it has a rather chocolaty flavour.
- Iced black coffee
It is the same as the first one but without the condensed milk. I find Vietnamese coffee a bit too muddy and thick but with ice it is quite refreshing and not so much dehydrating. It’s perfect for hot days but make sure that you tell the “barrista” not to add sugar, unless you want it sweet. Vietnamese people tend to add sugar into almost everything so watch out if you don’t like your coffee sweet.
- Egg coffee
This sweet drink with beaten egg whites on top is unique to Hanoi and popular in the winter. Legend says it that it was invented when there was a milk shortage but the Vietnamese didn’t want to drink their coffee black. It is definitely worth a try but it’s a bit too sweet in my opinion.
- Yoghurt coffee
Mmmm… deliciousness! The sourness of the yoghurt and the bitterness of the coffee creates an interesting combination that is quite refreshing. It always comes with ice and they use sweetened yoghurt so it’s not too bitter.
- Coconut coffee
This comes in many forms but my favourite is definitely the coconut coffee smoothie from Cong Ca phe. I don’t it needs explanation. The picture says it all.
- Avocado coffee smoothie
I know… Avocado? Trust me, it’s amazing. They blend ice and avocado together then add some kind of sugary syrup and coffee and mix it together. The sugary syrup doesn’t make it the healthiest option but the taste makes you forget about it.
- Hot Vietnamese coffee
It is something that I wouldn’t recommend as it is too muddy to my taste but try it and decide it for yourself. It gives the base to other coffee drinks and is made with a metal cup that has tiny holes on its bottom. They stuff the cup with grind coffee, pour water on it and wait for it to drip down into the cup under the metal one.
Coffee in Vietnam is rather cheap (it’s between 15.000-25.000 VND) so you don’t need to break the bank to try these specialities. Cong Caphe is a chain in Hanoi that is worth visiting but stopping by at small, family-run coffee shops can hold surprises for you as well. Be curious, experiment with Vietnamese coffee and tell me what you liked the most.