Discover The Ultimate Vietnamese Coffee Kit
In its essence, what we call Vietnamese coffee (Cà phê sua dá or Cafe sua da) is a style. In Southeast Asia, coffee is a drink that is created one cup at a time. It is brewed at your table, during a meal, or as a beverage to drink while playing chess at tables in outside cafes, or during a work break.
Vietnamese coffee is also grown, dried, and roasted differently from coffee in other regions of the world. Its characteristic buttery, nutty and fruity flavor overtones are a part of the natural, ~100 day drying and ripening process that is still done manually, in one of the few climates of the world where natural drying under the sun is possible for such an extended period. In South America, for instance, coffee often has to be kiln-dried for part of this process, which affects the ripening and development of some of these flavor tones. The natural drying method is laborious and careful, and brings to the coffee flavors like none other in the world.
Coffee roasting in Southeast Asia is also a unique process, involving butter oil and techniques that bring out the highest development of flavor without over-roasting or burning the coffee.
Additionally, the coffee is ground for the particular brewing method of the single-cup filter, or the French Press. This grind is a little coarser than used for brewing by drip machines.
And finally, because Vietnam is a tropical country, fresh milk and cream do not store well, so they have a tradition of using dried milk powder as a creamer, generally made into a sweetened condensed milk in a can, with added butterfat/cream.
The coffee is thus consumed black or with this sweetened condensed milk, which is placed in the cup before brewing.
Most people who enjoy Vietnamese-style coffee appreciate that the end result is a small cup of coffee, not a massive 16-ounce MegaBomb Donut Shop special. It's about 8 ounces of intense flavors you won't find from any other style of coffee or brewing. The intensity of the flavor is very satisfying, and does not leave you wanting. But of course, another cup is just a 6-minute brewing away, if you desire.
Many people who have been treated to a cup of Vietnamese style coffee have experienced this pleasure while traveling in Vietnam, or have been introduced to the coffee by a friend or native who has been there. When they want to duplicate this pleasure and they look for the ingredients, they may be confused to find that in the USA, local tradition from earlier immigrations of Vietnamese to this country is to make the coffee with French Market or Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory.
This substitution was made out of necessity when immigrants to the USA did not have Vietnamese coffee available to them. The French Market style coffees are similar in grind and thus they worked well in the single-cup filters. However, these coffees with chicory are actually produced from South American beans, using typical roasting methods, and they have nothing in common with true Vietnamese coffee.
Also, the typical Vietnamese coffee served here in the USA is served with a different sort of sweetened condensed milk. Our milks tend to be too sweet for the amount of creaming (lightening) in the coffee, and they are generally created for cooking and baking. Vietnamese sweetened condensed milk is intended for coffee, and has a much nicer balance between cream and sweetening.
So, to duplicate the experience a traveler has in a coffee cafe in Vietnam, he or she should use the real ingredients:
1. Stainless steel single-cup filter
2. Sweetened condensed milk made in Vietnam (Longevity is a popular brand)
3. Authentic Vietnamese coffee, grown, roasted, and packed in Vietnam.
These are your ingredients to experience the full enjoyment of genuine Vietnamese style coffee. The only other ingredient... is you, and the time to sit for a few minutes and brew yourself a cup of hand-crafted, unparalleled, delicious coffee.
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