A popular souvenir from a trip to Vietnam is Vietnam coffee. But which gourmet coffee is the best? With a perceived “100 types of coffee” on the markets, it is difficult to choose. And in every region the coffee tastes different.
The coffee bushes grow up to 4 meters high and are cultivated in coffee plantations. The coffee plant flowers white. Its stone fruits ripen after 9 to 11 months for the Arabica variety and 6 to 8 months for the Robusta variety. They turn red and form two seeds, the coffee beans. The first harvest can only take place after about 3 to 4 years. A long dry spell!
First coffee plants
The French missionaries first brought Arabica plants to Vietnam. The fertile soils and ideal climate around Buôn Mê Thuột still guarantee excellent Arabica and robust beans of the highest quality today.
The rare Catimor varieties, whose beans provide a strong “kick”, and the naturally decaffeinated Chari beans are also grown.
The countless Vietnamese coffee blends are also extremely popular among the locals.
Arabica and Robusta
The economically most important varieties of the coffee plants (genus Coffea; family Rubiaceae) are Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta (Coffea Canephora) with many varieties and species. About three times more Arabica than Robusta are cultivated worldwide.
Coffee varieties produced in Vietnam
The coffee grown in Vietnam is characterized by its balanced and harmonious taste. The good qualities pamper the palate with nuances of cocoa and slightly nutty aromas. If you appreciate a chocolaty note, you will get your money’s worth with Vietnamese coffee and never like other coffees again.
Highland Coffee Arabica
It is considered to be a top-quality variety and has a very well-known and popular coffee aroma. Coffee Arabica thrives at altitudes between 600 and 1,800 meters above sea level at temperatures between 17 and 22 degrees Celsius.
Highland coffees grow more slowly and require a longer maturing period. This allows the ingredients to develop more slowly. The yield is lower, which in turn explains the higher price.
Arabica coffees contain significantly less caffeine (caffeine 0.9 to 1.5 percent) and finer acids
(chlorogenic acid: three percent) as Kaffee Robusta. Therefore, Arabicas are also much milder in taste. The coffee variety Arabica represents 60 percent of the world’s bean harvest.
In Vietnam, Robusta coffee varieties are primarily produced. 96 percent of this coffee comes from small farms. Only a smaller proportion is grown on state-owned coffee plantations.
Robusta coffee is richer in caffeine than the Arabica bean and is characterised by greater resistance and shorter ripening times. This is why it is preferred by coffee farmers. Robusta has a global market share of about 36 percent.
Vietnamese coffee blends
Vietnamese coffee blends contain, in addition to Robusta and Arabica, proportions of the Catimor and Chari varieties in varying proportions depending on the region and producer.
This Vietnam coffee is very dark and has a slightly nutty chocolaty taste. It covers the largest part of the coffee demand.
Coffee blends with coffee types that are rather unknown on the world market are only available outside Vietnam as imported articles.
Due to its very low caffeine content, Chari coffee is also offered as a natural gentle coffee that does not have to be decaffeinated.
Civet coffee, cat coffee or weasel coffee
Vietnamese weasel coffee “Cà phê cứt chồn” is considered the rarest and most expensive coffee. It costs about 20 times more than Arabica.
Weasels eat the coffee cherries and excrete the coffee beans again. These are collected, cleaned and roasted. Due to the fermentation in the animals’ intestines, the coffee beans’ taste characteristics change. Above all, bitter substances are removed from them. This coffee is a variant of the special coffee variety “Kopi Luwak” and is also known as “cat coffee”.
Today, the strong and unique taste of weasel coffee is achieved by using special natural enzymes that give the coffee its full-bodied aroma.
Trung Nguyen Creative 8
By the way, an alternative to the expensive weasel coffee and my favourite variety is “Trung Nguyen Creative 8”. The fermentation of the premium blend is based on the taste of Kopi Luwak and tastes great. All coffee varieties are available in Germany.
Blue Mountain coffee
Blue Mountain coffee belongs to the top category of coffee specialities. The coffee bushes are cultivated between 900 metres and 1,700 metres altitude. Fog, cool temperatures and heavy rainfall are the main factors for a special climate, which makes the coffee cherries grow much more slowly.
The long ripening period gives rise to a special aroma with recognition value, which is highly appreciated by coffee experts. Exceptional aroma, low yields, handpicking, special packaging in wooden barrels, special roasting methods in Vietnam (!) and elaborate marketing make, for example, “Jamaica Blue Mountain” one of the most expensive coffee varieties in the world with a market price of around 100 dollars per kilogram.
The Blue Mountain Vietnam tastes even better to me personally. I also compared it with the one from Papua New Guinea. In Vietnam’s markets, Blue Montain Coffee is cheap. I bought it in Saigon.
The biggest and most famous coffee producers in Vietnam
– Hung Phat Company Limited
– Tam Chau Tea and Coffee Company Limited
– Trung Nguyen Coffee Company Limited (market leader)
– Vinacafe – Vietnam National Coffee Corporation
– Nestlé (since liberalisation in Vietnam in 1990).
Coffee producer Trung Nguyen
Especially the coffee producer Trung Nguyen stands for very well-known Vietnam coffees and is famous for its wide range of products, such as Trung Nguyen coffee, G7 instant coffee or G7 3-in-1 instant coffee.