The Evolving Tastes of Vietnamese Espresso: Half One


We study in regards to the arabica rising in Vietnam, a area traditionally recognized for robusta manufacturing, and the growing preferences for specialty-coffee consuming within the nation.


Photographs courtesy of Mervin Lee

From the editor: These days, we’ve been discussing the rise of specialty-coffee consuming in countries that produce coffee. Right this moment’s story options Vietnamese espresso, notably the expansion in reputation of arabica and specialty brewing strategies. The hassle is mixed amongst café homeowners and producers, which we element on this two-part version.

Anybody who has been to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis (aka Saigon) can attest to the truth that espresso is all over the place. Scooters traverse the town’s well-known visitors with takeaway cups of ca phe swinging from their handles; avenue carts pour out thick robusta into swimming pools of condensed milk, and one can nearly hear the drip, drip, drip of espresso filtering by way of phins in cafés throughout city. 

However robusta and conventional Vietnamese brewing strategies are not the entire story. 

Phin espresso filters lined up in a avenue café.

In response to the specialty-coffee group in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis and the Da Lat area, what was as soon as only a every day consumption commodity has began to show right into a extra clear collaboration between suppliers and customers in Vietnam. An growing variety of growers, roasters, and baristas are working to replace the profile of native Vietnamese espresso consumption by specializing in arabica varietals, high-quality robusta, and sustainable coffee-farming practices. 

Vietnamese Espresso on the Native Café Stage

This motion is the inspiration for the Hummingbird Cafe and Roastery in downtown Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. As proprietor Hoa Tran places it, “The hummingbird is the one fowl who can fly backwards. It’s the right illustration of the evolution of the espresso trade over the past decade. The eye of the buyer is switching from the front-line barista in direction of earlier phases of manufacturing similar to origin, selection, and processing strategies.”  

Hummingbird Cafe and Roastery.

“The specialty market is exploding,” confirms Will Frith, Vietnam’s unofficial “espresso diplomat” and founding father of BEL Coffee and Wine Bar and the Building co-roastery in Saigon. “It’s not tremendous mainstream, however it’s all over the place. Avenue carts even have pull-espresso machines now.”

Speciality-coffee guide Will Frith (left) at Constructing.

Hoa agrees. “The espresso tradition of Saigon has grown up within the metropolis and is an important a part of the lifetime of any Saigonese. What we’re seeing at this time period is the combination of customers who see espresso as a morning booster and ones who take into account espresso as a devoted product. It’s altering and rising. That’s what we love about this metropolis and what motivates us to maintain shifting.”

How Vietnam Grew to become a Espresso Large and Why Specialty Producers are Nonetheless Unicorns 

Vietnam is the second-largest espresso exporter on the earth, and primary for robusta exportation. The primary espresso vegetation have been introduced into the nation by the French within the 1800s, however manufacturing actually picked up a century later when the Vietnamese authorities determined to deal with espresso agriculture as a part of their post-war rebuilding efforts within the Eighties.   

Hoa Tran from Hummingbird Cafe and Roastery.

Most Vietnamese espresso is shipped off inexperienced to be roasted elsewhere. A big proportion of Vietnam’s robusta is reworked into super-concentrated crystals to create astringent, chalky—however instantaneous!—espresso in kitchens all around the world. Most insta-coffees don’t get an entire lot of affection within the rising or roasting processes as a result of, let’s be sincere, nobody expects them to style all that good. Sadly, these espresso merchandise, in addition to scandals about chemical flavor additives being added to the coffee that does remain in Vietnam, have tarnished the picture of Vietnamese espresso, and have stored the costs comparatively low in comparison with different coffee-producing giants similar to Brazil and Columbia. 

But, regardless of these difficulties, the narrative is changing, and Vietnam has a robust cultural connection to its espresso that makes it value combating to raised the beans. 

We are going to proceed this story tomorrow.


Molly Headley (she/her) is a contract journalist who writes in regards to the F&B trade and humanities & tradition. She’s lived within the countryside of Idaho, an arts conservatory in Michigan, the gritty-glitz of L.A., poetic Paris, foodie London, and exhilarating Ho Chi Minh Metropolis. Journey has all the time pushed her subsequent transfer, however house is wherever she will sit along with her laptop computer and a very good cup of espresso. Along with writing, she at the moment teaches cross-cultural communication and storytelling at Leonardo da Vinci College in Paris.

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