Michelin's guide to 6 coffees to experience Vietnam in a cup

By Tam Anh   April 20, 2024 | 12:00 am PT
Michelin suggests six Vietnamese-style coffee variations, blending tradition and modernity, featuring iced milk coffee, egg coffee, and salt coffee, catering to diverse tastes.

Introduced by the French in the mid-19th century, coffee in Vietnam has evolved into a culinary tradition.

Going for coffee does not only mean savoring a cup of coffee but also socializing with friends or conducting business. Below are six types of coffee in Vietnam, as recommended by the world's top culinary rater, the Michelin Guide.

Ca phe sua da - iced milk coffee

Cà phê sữa đá hay còn được gọi là nâu đá. Ảnh: EVC

A cup of iced milk coffee boasts a light brown color. Photo courtesy of EVC

Iced milk coffee is prepared by brewing coffee powder through a filter, allowing boiling water to drip slowly through it. The brewed coffee is then poured into a cup containing condensed milk. Ice is added to the cup after the drink is mixed.

The combination of coffee and milk creates a blend of flavors, with the bitterness of the coffee complemented by the sweetness of the milk.

Originating from the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, this drink can be found everywhere from roadside stalls to luxury restaurants. Today, iced milk coffee has become a staple beverage at Vietnamese restaurants worldwide, serving as an accompaniment and a culinary legacy.

Bac xiu - milk and coffee

Bạc xỉu. Ảnh: KBT

In a cup of 'bac xiu', the coffee sits atop the milk. Photo courtesy of KBT

Invented by the Chinese in Saigon during the early 20th century, bac xiu is a testament to Saigon's cultural heritage, blending influences from Chinese, Vietnamese, and French styles.

Many believe that the strong bitter taste of coffee poses a challenge for some, particularly women and children. In response, the Chinese developed a more palatable version known as bac xiu. They adjusted the traditional iced milk coffee recipe, increasing the milk-to-coffee ratio. Bac xiu successfully balances the sweetness of milk with the bitterness of coffee.

Egg coffee

Cà phê trứng. Ảnh: Lê Liên

A rich layer of egg cream on top of a cup of egg coffee. Photo by VnExpress/Le Lien

Egg coffee stands as a creation from the wartime era. In the 1940s, during a period of skyrocketing sugar and milk prices, Nguyen Van Giang, founder of Giang coffee shop in Hanoi, drew inspiration from his experiences working at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi.

He combined egg yolks with cappuccino coffee to create a rich, dark yellow cream layered over the coffee base, offering a blend of bitter coffee and fatty egg taste, sweetened with honey.

Vietnamese egg coffee, served in small cups, stays warm in a bowl of hot water. Its mix of ingredients makes it a cozy drink.

Salt coffee

Cà phê muối có nguồn gốc từ Huế. Ảnh: Cafe Muoi

In salt coffee, the cup is mostly filled with white salt cream. Photo courtesy of Cafe Muoi

As its name suggests, salted coffee offers a blend of salty and sweet flavors. This drink merges traditional coffee practices with innovation.

Originating from Hue in central Vietnam, salted coffee combines robusta coffee beans with cream and salt, resulting in a balance that neutralizes bitterness while enhancing sweetness and creaminess.

Salted coffee has multiple layers, with condensed milk at the bottom, coffee in the middle, and cream on top. When you mix the salt coffee thoroughly, the salty taste makes the rich coffee flavor stand out more. Additionally, it reduces the bitterness of the coffee while increasing the creaminess of the milk.

Coconut coffee

Cà phê cốt dừa. Ảnh: Mina

The texture of the coconut cream is reminiscent of shaved ice. Photo by VnExpress/Mina

This beverage represents the Vietnamese people's fondness for tropical fruits. The aroma and bitterness of the coffee blend with the sweetness of coconut milk and condensed milk, creating a symphony of flavors that captivates the senses.

Initially, coconut milk is blended with condensed milk and ice until smooth. Next, black coffee is shaken in a bottle until a light brown foam forms on the surface. Finally, the coffee is poured into a glass cup and slowly mixed with a concentrated coconut milk mixture, resulting in a drink with a unique flavor and visual appeal.

Fruity cold brew coffee

Cold brew trái cây. Ảnh: Shincafe

A cup of cold brew coffee infused with orange results in a reddish-brown color. Photo courtesy of Shincafe

Introduced just over a decade ago, fruity cold brew coffee has injected a breath of fresh air into Vietnamese coffee culture, quickly gaining popularity among residents of bustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

This beverage utilizes the traditional cold brew method, allowing Arabica coffee beans to blend with fruits or juices such as orange, lychee, and apricot.

Whether it's the zesty taste of orange, the sweetness of lychee, or the tartness of apricot, each variation offers a flavor experience that revitalizes the taste buds and provides relief from the tropical heat.

go to top