Once a part of French Indochina, Vietnam may have come a long way since their occupation, the Southeast Asian nation has willingly retained many of the cultural nuances of French society, especially in terms of cuisine. From unique fusion dishes such as Bo Bit Tet, as mentioned in one of our recent blogs, to the best baguettes you can find east of the Bosphorus Strait, a gallic flair remains and is especially evident with a very distinguishable coffee culture.
Vietnam became hooked on coffee after its introduction to the nation by French colonists in the late 19th century and ever since the nation has lovingly embraced the black brew, becoming the second largest coffee producing country in the world, behind only Brazil.
Just like the French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine, Vietnam has also produced a version of coffee that’s fairly unique to ‘Nam. Partially inspired by the local climate, the iced beverage called ‘ca phe sua da’, which is a strong, bold coffee with a subtle sweetness made with dark roast coffee and sweetened condensed milk served with ice.
Although thousands of miles away, the street side coffee-sipping fashion of Southern Europe has consumed Vietnam and no matter the season, it’s common to see the city streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh lined with coffee connoisseurs soaking up the ambience of everyday life fly by. Often you’ll see groups gossiping garrulously away while perched on tiny child-sized plastic stools in a cluster of semi-permanent vendors and shops.
A pertinent recognition of Vietnam’s coffee addiction has also recently been announced, as Starbucks prepares to open the doors to its first store in the nation in February 2013. It remains to be seen how the coffee shop will compete with the established street side drinking that dominates the current coffee scene, but judging by the North American brand’s dominance in other Asian realms like Thailand, China and Japan, we expect the rapidly evolving nation to take to the company’s black gold like a duck to hoi sin sauce. We just hope the chain’s arrival won’t affect the enchanting established culture that dominates the city’s landscape on a daily basis.