It's no secret that Vietnam has great coffee. It was one of the many things we were looking forward to sampling when we decided to visit the country.
Never did we imagine the regional variability of this countries favourite drink nor did we comprehend how seriously the Vietnamese take their morning brew - and for good reason, it is some of the best we have had in the world.
Here is a snapshot of some of our favourite samplings from our trip from North to South.
1. Egg Coffee (ca phe trung) - Hanoi.
Egg in a coffee? When we discussed this variation with our friends they were polarised, some were horrified by the idea of putting eggs in coffee, but we were intrigued.
Think of it more like meringue, a soft and sweet topping for that strong brew below. It is reminiscent of a cappuccino, except rather than being topped with milky foam it is a whipped and sweetened egg.
We tried egg coffee in a few places but our favourite by far was Cafe Pho Co, 11P Hang Gai, Hanoi. At 40, 000 dong ($USD2, or around $2.5 AUD) per cup itt is a steal, not to mention the amazing views of Hoan Kiem Lake, but be warned there are stairs involved.
2. Yogurt Coffee (sua chua ca phe)- Cong Caphe, various locations.
A friend of ours put us onto this next caffeinated delicacy, touting it as his favourite. Essentially what it is a shot of espresso over sweetened yogurt. It made for a refreshing summertime drink.
The exciting thing about this drink was the setting. Cong Caphe, throughout our trip, became a favourite, with its kitsch communist decorations and utilitarian design . If you stumble across one you should venture inside, not only are they reasonably priced, and have decent wifi, but they have a range of inventive and delicious beverages and snacks. The coconut coffee smoothie also hits the mark.
3. Espresso and sweetened condensed milk (Ca Phe Sua Nong), Hue
This is coffee that most people think about when they think of Vietnamese coffee. Either a shot of espresso or a slow drip french coffee over sweetened condensed milk. We love this, so much in fact, that we bought small coffee filters to bring home and replicate this variation on the regular. We became so acquainted with this coffee that it was the first phrase we learned in Vietnamese 'Hai Ca Phe Sua Nong xin' - two coffees please. We seriously had at least one of these a day.
4. Coffee with a view, Slow dip coffee with sweetened condensed milk and ice (Ca Phe Sua Da), Dalat.
Another variation of the traditional drink above with the inclusion of ice, a perfect drink for the warmer months. This too was consumed on the daily. Even the slow drip of the coffee, which in some cafes took up to 10 minutes to finish, was charming and really left time to appreciate your surroundings or engage in conversation.
One of our favourite coffees was had at a local establishment in Danang called Long Cafe, 123 Lê Lợi, TP.Đà Nẵng. It was also one of the cheapest at 15,000 dong per cup (less than $1USD, and around $1 AUD). A large room, with small plastic chairs and low lying tables, it was bustling. Don't look for an english menu, or a menu at all - mastering the phrase 'can I have a coffee please' is a must in Vietnam, and especially this cafe but you will be rewarded by a thick syrupy coffee at a bargain price.