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Apr 16, 2023 / 17:35

The finest coffee in the world is a Vietnamese variety

On TasteAtlas' list of the "10 Best Rated Coffees in the World," Vietnamese iced coffee was rated first alongside Italian ristretto.

With its strong and distinctive taste, Vietnamese coffee has won the heart of many people from all over the world. Robusta beans have been used to make a variety of drinks that have been developed and are best enjoyed in Vietnam. Ca phe sua da, or cold coffee with condensed milk, is one of them.

Bread and coffee are the perfect breakfast for many Vietnamese people. Photo: Bao Quan

TasteAtlas, the renowned website dubbed “the world’s culinary map”, has recently published a list of the best coffee around the globe, which is useful for those who want to enjoy good coffee while traveling to the countries of their destination.

Along with Italian ristretto, Vietnamese iced coffee was ranked number one on TasteAtlas' list of "10 Best Rated Coffees in the World".

Ca phe sua da, or Vietnamese Iced Coffee tops the list, earning five stars from the culinary experts at TasteAtlas. The score is based on votes from people who "have had it," "would like to try it," and "will add it to the list" to enjoy when the opportunity arises.

So, what make iced coffee so special for the culinary experts from TasteAtlas?

The website describes it this way: "Vietnamese iced coffee is a drink that combines strong coffee, condensed milk, and ice. It is traditionally made with medium or coarse ground Vietnamese coffee, typically the Robusta variety brewed using a drip phin filter - in which the coffee is brewed and then slowly dripped into the cup".

The coffee is then poured over ice and mixed with condensed milk. It is usually served in a tall glass. Although it is most commonly made with condensed milk (ca phe sua da), there is also a version that combines only coffee and ice (ca phe da).

Previously, Ca phe sua da was also ranked second in the Australian magazine Traveller's list of the "10 best cafes in the world".

According to traveller.com.au, "Coffee in Vietnam is prepared like nowhere else. Without the need for a fancy machine or being an expert in beverage preparation, the coffee maker pours hot water into a mini percolator of rich, dark beans on top of a glass".

 Ca phe sua da is served in an old-style cafeteria in Hanoi. Photo: Cafe 1986

The black liquid then drips through that percolator and lands in a puddle of thick, sweet, condensed milk, creating such a wonderful drink. Depending on preference, drinkers can add ice which is served separately. “Just add a handful of ice cubes, stir, and you have a delicious pick-me-up,” it wrote.

The habit of drinking coffee has long become a culture in Vietnam. Together with tea, coffee is an indispensable drink in the daily life of urban people.

Popularized by the French in the mid-19th century, Vietnam quickly became the world's leading coffee producer. In 2022, Vietnam remained the world's second-largest coffee exporter after Brazil. Its main markets are Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan and the United Kingdom. In Europe, it has a market share of 16.1%, behind Brazil's 22.2%.

The country is also the world's largest producer of Robusta. The agricultural specialty is exported to more than 80 countries and territories worldwide.

Countries with good coffee in the "10 Best Rated Coffees in the World" list by TasteAtlas include Italy with ristretto, cappuccino, macchiato and espresso; Greece with frappe, freddo cappuccino, espresso freddo; Turkey with Turkish coffee; and Spain with cortado.

The tasty portion of Hanoi's ca phe sua da. Photo: Pham Thinh

The Hanoi Times suggests the following as the best cafes in Hanoi serving ca phe sua da:

Nhan Coffee has been familiar to Hanoians since 1946. It was opened in an area that was a refuge for the patriotic people of Hanoi during the war of resistance against the French. The shop is actually the brainchild of a married couple, Nguyen Van Thi and Tran Thi Thanh Ky.

Today, Thi and Ky's children and grandchildren have opened nearly a dozen coffee shops under the Nhan Cafe brand in Hanoi, on streets such as Hang Hanh, Lang Ha, Nguyen Thai Hoc, and De La Thanh. Although the business has evolved into a production company that supplies coffee to restaurants and supermarkets instead of an ordinary coffee shop, the quality and taste of the brand's coffee remain unchanged.

Set on a gorgeous little space in an alley of Quan Thanh street, Ba Dinh district, Yen Café  is the ideal location for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The coffee shop owns a particular recipe to create iced coffee. The cafeteria uses on-the-spot roasted mixture of Robusta and Arabica coffee bean from the central highland city of Dalat to make its delicious coffee. The drink has creamy balance of sweet and bite flavor that can’t be found elsewhere.

The nostalgic ambience of Café Lam in Hanoi's Old Quarter Area. Photo: Thinh Nguyen

Café Lam was opened in 1949 by Nguyen Van Lam, a former Hanoi art collector, especially of masterpieces by the famous Vietnamese painter Bui Xuan Phai. Decades later, the cafe still serves some of the best coffee in the city. Lam told the local press that he learned to make coffee from his father. His coffee is served either hot or cold with ice, as is common in Vietnam: with a layer of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the cup. Café Lam's special iced coffee is said to satisfy French and Vietnamese tastes.

The retro ambiance of Café Lam is another quirky feature. The cafeteria opens in Lam's own house on Nguyen Huu Huan Street. It is one of the last places where you can catch a glimpse of old Hanoi and bask in the romance and sleepiness of an era that has all but gone.

Stepping into Nhi Cafe in No.2 Hang Ca Street, people not used to stuffiness will feel a little strange, but then easily recognize the homey and strong coffee flavor. Nhi Cafe creates its own unique feature with pre-made filter coffee contained in Chinese teapots, which are normally used to keep green tea. Each coffee cup requires two cups from the teapot, poured into a glass cup, and whipped together with sugar and milk before adding ice.