WORD TRIP 2010
I wasn’t expecting to update the blog during my travels, but here’s the first of a few entries from around the world. This, from Vietnam.
By some reckonings, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee (after Brazil). Mind you, I heard the same said about Indonesia and Columbia. Wherever it is on the list, it produces a lot, mostly robusta (the “lesser” strain of coffee).
And the Vietnamese also love to drink the stuff, thanks initially to the French influence, dating from the 19th Century.
The method of preparing a traditional Vietnamese coffee was a new one for me. The result is a fantastically rich, strong, gloopy cuppa.
We had our best mug in the tiny Hue Cafe, Hanoi. It’s one of thousands of spots to find a good Vietnamese coffee in the manic capital. The prime blend is “weasel coffee”, the poor relative of “kopi luwak”. Kopi Luwak is coffee selected by the discerning nose of a civet cat, which passes the beans in tact for collection by workers with nose-clips. Weasel coffee… well, it’s from a weasel.
It was a fantastic brew, incomplete without a dollop of condensed milk (it ain’t Vietnamese coffee without it). Just remember to stir well, unless you enjoy a condensed milk hit at the bottom of the glass.
A Vietnamese coffee is made with a cannister that sits over the mug. The coffee slowly drips into the glass, with condensed milk at the bottom. Like Guinness, good things come to those who wait. To read more about the Vietnamese coffee technique, see this guide: http://www.ineedcoffee.com/04/vietnamese/
Hue Cafe is a popular, friendly and relaxed place to sip one by the roadside, but there are plenty of alternatives in the Old Town of Hanoi and beyond.
And without wishing to sound to much like Michael Palin, we can’t recommend Vietnam highly enough. A beautiful and fascinating place with the friendliest folk imaginable.
Hàng Giầy 26
We visited on 4 March 2010.