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Friday, April 11, 2014

World’s 2nd Largest Coffee Producer---Vietnam

Coffee is a ritual in Vietnam & is often served in its own drip-pot 

The first morning of my recent trip to Vietnam one of the friends who I was traveling with greeted me in the hotel’s breakfast room with “You’re going to love their coffee!”  I thought she was referring to the Vietnamese iced coffee drink popular in California with sweetened condensed milk.  Instead, she passed me her steaming hot black coffee…and it was love at first sip. While waiting for the waitress to appear and order my own, I had to fight myself not to down her entire cup.  This was nirvana…definitely complex…hints of dark chocolate…with a nuttiness lingering in the background.  (BTW: I’m not a fan of the flavored coffees in the U.S. and this coffee was not in the same stratosphere as their American chemically- doctored counterparts.) 

When breakfast was over I asked the waitress where I could buy the coffee.  She replied “Right here.  We have had so many requests for it that we now sell it in one pound sacks for travelers.” I carried several sacks of this coffee with me throughout a two week trip in Vietnam, followed by Australia, then to New Zealand, and alas a week in Fiji.  I have been drinking a cup each morning since my return two weeks ago.  My overweight baggage charges were worth it as I never thought that I would be able to buy it in the states.  Wrong.

Since returning I’ve learned that Vietnamese coffee is available in the US due to the large immigrant community who missed their very special coffee. Moreover, I have discovered that Vietnam is second only to Brazil in coffee production and that coffee closely follows rice as Vietnam’s largest export.

The French introduced coffee to the country in the 1850’s but it wasn’t until after the recent war that Vietnam became a powerful coffee giant.  Ever heard of the Trung Nguyen?  Forbes assessed his worth to be a $100 million US dollars. This coffee baron owns 5 Bentleys and 10 Ferrari’s.  He is the Vietnamese Starbucks.

I was so impressed with my trip to Vietnam that I have decided to take a Wine Knows group in 2016 for a foodies’ tour of this magical country.  In the meanwhile, however, I’m forgoing my usual French Roast for my new found fave, Vietnamese coffee. 

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