My recent trip to Vietnam convinced me that the best coffee in the world is Vietnamese drip coffee. The beans used are very fragrant and the taste of the brew has notes of hazelnut.
My friends and I tried it in different places, the first time at Baby Spoon, a restaurant near our three-star hotel in Ben Thanh, where we were approached every 10 minutes or so by street vendors selling all sorts of knickknacks. For a true Viet experience, I suggest you proceed to the other end of the sidewalk where locals enjoy their blend on low tables and stools.
We also tried the coffee at the Trung Nguyen coffeeshop, a popular chain similar to our Figaro. And we had another cup in one of the kiosks in Ben Thanh market, over breakfast of French bread and pate (more about the pate later). We were never disappointed.
Still, the best one I tried was at Highlands coffeeshop, another popular chain of coffee stores similar to Seattle’s Best and Starbucks. Maybe they use coffee from Buon Ma Thuot because I read somewhere that the best Vietnamese coffee comes from this area. Or maybe they just mix theirs really well.
Vietnamese coffee is served in an interesting fashion. The tiny coffee filter pot (it looks like a cup made of either stainless steel or aluminum) has four components: the cup itself, the saucer that it sits on, a disc-like filter piece with holes, and a cover. The filter cup together with the saucer sits on top of your coffee mug or cup, which contains condensed milk for later mixing. If you look inside, you’ll see coffee grounds pressed by the filter disk. Hot water is poured over the filter pot and covered. The brew will slowly drip into your coffee cup. It’s a very charming setup. When the dripping stops, stir the coffee so that it blends with the condensed milk. No need to add milk or sugar.