(Written by Her)
The coffee culture in Hanoi is unsurpassed. I have never seen so many coffee shops and stores selling coffee beans (which of course we bought for home) in such close proximity. Locals spend countless hours on plastic chairs drinking the different combinations. Here are some of our favourites:
‘Legendee’ or Weasel Coffee
Cited as the world’s best iced coffee, Kopi Luwak Ca Phe. Kopi Luwak is the process whereby a ‘Civet’, an animal like a weasel, is fed coffee fruit. The civet choses only the best coffee fruit to eat and then the process begins. The enzymes in the Civet’s stomach react with the coffee fruit & separates the fruit from the bean. The following morning the Civet passes the bean through its digestive system and eventually into the hand of the collector (Yum!). The Kopi Luwak system apparently removes all the bitterness from the coffee. Although, to my uneducated coffee palette, it tasted almost identical to traditional coffee (not quite worth the $7 a cup). Nowadays, the process has been simulated under laboratory conditions – therefore, no civets were harmed in the tasting of this coffee!
Phin Filtered Coffee
When you order a cup of filtered coffee in Vietnam, you are actually presented with the filter itself. These filters, known as 'Phin filters' can be purchased pretty much everywhere around Hanoi. To make the coffee, the brewing chamber is filled with ground coffee (3 spoons as they like their coffee quite strong here), then hot water and the filter is placed over your cup. When your coffee is ready, you pour it over a glass of cracked ice. Refreshing!
Cà phê Sua (A slant on White Coffee)
My favourite coffee by far! It certainly satisfies my sweet tooth. Cà phê Sua is filtered coffee as above but rather than using fresh milk, the Vietnamese use condensed milk (yes the stuff from a tin). It is super thick and incredibly sweet but when mixed with strong coffee the results are delicious, particularly over ice with a straw. I’ll definitely be having this when I get home so get ready to try it out!
Cà phê trứng (egg coffee)
Only available in some hidden cafés dotted around Hanoi (we tried- Giang café – a Hanoi coffee shop that has been around for decades). You would never find this place unless you were looking. It’s down a tiny narrow alley way which eventually leads into a small quite coffee shop.
Egg coffee is as you might imagine – made with 1 or 2 whisked eggs, coffee and condensed milk. It's not the healthiest drink in the world but it's thick and creamy, sweet and delicious. We got ours served over a burning candle to keep it warm! Certainly novel...