Day 4: In Defense of Robusta Beans

Vietnamese coffee is some of my favorite coffee on Earth. It’s strong, rich and delicious whether served hot or cold. One of the first things we did when we woke up our first morning was to find some coffee.

Two coffee lovers

So, it always annoys me when I see those signs that Starbucks has everywhere claiming that Arabica beans are far superior to all others. In fact, most Vietnamese coffee is made with Robusta Beans… Which happen to be delicious!

Now, Starbucks is an important part of my survival living abroad. I’m not knocking the Coffee Siren or her magical Arabica beans, but to state that Arabica is “better to drink” is simply wrong. It might be smoother and lighter, but if you want coffee that’s going to kick you in the pants and get you going, Robusta’s your bean!

A little bit about beans

Of course, there’s more to coffee than just the type of bean it’s made with. One crucial element of Vietnamese coffee is the sweetened condensed milk that’s served instead of regular fresh milk. It adds to the richness of the Robusta bean, packing your coffee with flavour!

This is how coffee is often served in Vietnam. They also bring you a bucket of ice for if you want it cold. Because Robusta Beans are so strongly flavoured, adding ice doesn’t water down the coffee the way it does with Arabica beans

There are also all sorts of specialty coffees served in Vietnam. My personal favorite is coconut coffee. They freeze coconut cream and blend it in with the coffee to make a sort of frappe. It’s delicious!!!

Egg coffee is one of Dave’s favourites. During wartime, dairy became scarce in Vietnam, so people started whipping eggs to create a meringue of sorts. It’s still served in Hanoi now, and you can find it in some cases further south as well.

We don’t seem to have any photos, so here’s some stock footage of this delicious Vietnamese specialty!

Today, Dave something new: a salted cheese coffee. We aren’t 100% sure not, but it’s likely made of a mixture of cream and cream cheese, frozen together into cubes and then added to iced coffee.

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!!!

Even instant coffee here is more bearable! The only coffee we avoid in Vietnam is the weasel coffee. This isn’t because of how it’s produced, but rather because of the animal cruelty involved in producing it.

In the wild, civets eat coffee cherries as part of their diet, and then they poop them out, mostly whole and interact. Apparently, these beans taste great, so naturally, people have found a way to industrialize it. Unfortunately for the civets, they’re often kept in terrible conditions and are force fed the berries with little other food, more or less making the poor things sick. I won’t touch civet coffee based on the ethics behind how it’s produced

Vietnam has taught me that there’s more than one way to make a good cup of coffee. At this point, as long as my caffeinated beverage doesn’t come at the cost of an animal’s well-being, I’ll try any coffee Vietnam throws my way!

Tomorrow we head to Ho’ian!!