Being British and happily adhering to the stereotype of avid tea drinking, coffee is a rare beverage for me. However, for less than a pound for a local delicacy, well, it would be rude not to.
When you think of Vietnam, you may not immediately think of coffee, though it plays an integral part of the culture and economy as Vietnam is one of the largest coffee exporters in the world.
Since being introduced to coffee by the French in the 19th century, the Vietnamese people have added their own ingredients and styles of making it. Though condensed milk is still used as fresh milk is hard to come by.
My first sampling of Vietnamese coffee came on the wholesale water market in Cần Thơ.
The murky river is slow as the boat’s engine whirs along and the sky is the kind of blue which promises it will be a sunny day. A beaming lady arrives, selling iced coffee – or Ca phe sua da, which translates as coffee, milk, ice – for 3,000 dong.
At the time of writing 22,000 dong = $1
She agilely leans over the boat to hand me one. I sip. It is strong, but incredibly sweet. Just the right drink for an early morning start.
Though it’s not too early, as most of the sellers have been here since 5am.
That bright blue sky and dark grey water create an impressive backdrop for the boats, more and more of them appearing the further upstream we go. The coffee kicks in and I buzz with the market vibe.
X Marks the Spot
No. 39- Lane Nguyen Huu Huan, Hanoi
The group and I are out exploring Hanoi, walking along countless charming coffee shops. Our guide, Beam, confidently strides straight past all of them, leading us in to a place which looks like some sort of garage. We walk over cracking terracotta tiles, up the stairs in to a small cafe with lots of small furniture packed in. It’s full of locals rather than tourists, a promising sign.
I am dubious as to what coffee with raw egg will be like, but willing to try. I’m given a cup and told to sit the egg for a minute or so, the coffee being so hot it cooks the egg. Then I drink.
Oh my. Egg coffee – Ca phe trung – is so creamy and absolutely delicious, just the right balance of coffee and sweet. For those averse to coffee, you can also get it with chocolate.
It was only 20,000 dong whereas some places in the city charged 70,00 for the delicacy. According to Beam, this is the best place in the city and I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t agree.