In the interest of full disclosure - prior to coming to Vietnam I never tasted one drip of coffee in my life. I actually thought it tasted disgusting and I never thought about drinking it. Now, if I don’t have a minimum of two ca phe sua da’s daily I freak out.
My parents have always been coffee addicts and most Americans I know drink a few cups of Columbian coffee every day, but to be honest that coffee is not that strong and is pretty watered down. Vietnamese coffee is on a whole different level. It is basically American coffee on crack, and I love it! I need it I crave it.
When I first travelled to Vietnam in 2008 I ended up having my first drip of ca phe den in the countryside and let me tell you, my sip of that stuff for the first time experiencing coffee basically hit me like the most powerful drug known to man and from that moment I was hooked. I needed it in my life. Actually not only do I need it, I actually enjoy it. There is no better taste than a nice ca phe sua da or bac xiu.
I really just enjoy sitting outside on my balcony, or in the country side, or just side walk coffee. During the day between work, during work, after work I always think about coffee. That first drip and sip in 2008 basically changed my body’s chemistry. Vietnamese caffeine would change my life forever. Nowadays, if I don’t have a minimum of 2 cups a da I freak out. I get severe migraines and ancy. Sometimes when I am just killing time or even driving my motorbike I think of my next glass of ca phe sua da, or if I am in a rush with no time and no choice, my instant coffee. I love the 3-in-1’s. If there is no choice a nice hot cup of instant Vietnamese coffee usually does the trick.
My favorite places to get coffee are local coffee shops as well as places like Passio, Highlands Coffee and if I need a really quiet place that is open and good for writing I usually go to Starbucks, yes not many people like Starbucks, but I got there for the atmosphere more than the coffee.
Coffee in Vietnam is a cultural thing, a tradition, a past time, a right of way. I know kids in Vietnam usually get their first taste at an early age and it becomes part of their life. They grow up going to coffee shops for meetings, business or just to hang out with their friends. Coffee in Vietnam is a way of life for most locals and it is no different for me. 10 years in Vietnam coffee has become a part of life for me as well.
On every corner you will find at least 3-4 coffee shops. Some local places mixed with the big fancy places like The Coffee House, Trung Nguyen, and Highlands Coffee etc. There really is not anything else in the world and no other country that can compare to Vietnamese coffee and the Vietnamese coffee culture.
Over the last decade I have had at least 1000 cups of coffee and as long as I am living in Vietnam and for the foreseeable future I am sure to drink another 1000 cups. Not only because I need to, but I enjoy it as well and for as long as I am here I will continue to immerse myself into the coffee culture of Vietnam.