Last week, I met up with two of my best friends from college, Amy and Jean for lunch. They were gushing about their recent trip to Vietnam. I was only half-listening to what they were saying because in my head, I was also humming the song “The heat is on in Saigon…” after they mentioned Vietnam. Did it just happen to you as well? Lol!
I was giggling by myself, and when they both noticed that I was not listening to them, Jean playfully pinched my arm, and asked me to focus, or else they won’t give me the loot bag they got me from their trip. So, I tried to shake off the tune in my head, and listen to their story.
You see, these friends of mine, both decided to resign from their corporate jobs to start off a business that they had brewing in their heads for about three years now. They both wanted to open a small specialty coffee shop. They had been doing a lot of research on where they should source their coffee beans. Their research has already taken them to Guatemala, Kenya, and now, Vietnam. Aside from coffee, they are also doing food samples of pastries, or delicacies that they can partner with coffee.
They did ask me to join their exploration since day one, but my bills had to be paid so I chose to stay.
Amy seems to love Vietnam. She mentioned that it’s a country worth exploring. She showed me pictures of the places they have been to in Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and lastly, Phan Thiet. They are planning to do another short visit next month, and we all agreed that I will go with them.
Modern Day Vietnam
It is interesting to see how modern day Vietnam looks. They are not often featured in the news, and like that song in my head, the vision I have of Vietnam is all about the war, rice fields, and death.
I asked Jean to start with the details, because I was only on a one hour lunch break. She gave me a blow-by-blow account of the coffee culture in Vietnam.
Vietnamese do not partner their coffee with pastry. It seemed weird because we usually have cheesecakes or croissants with our cappuccino or latte, right? Well, they don’t. What they do is they have lunch or dinner first then enjoy a cup of coffee afterwards. I forgot to ask if this is also the case during breakfast.
Also, they usually take their coffee black but if you want to sweeten your coffee, they add condensed milk rather than cubes of sugar. To be honest, this got me intrigued that I did try it out when I got home after work since I had a can of condensed milk that I was planning to use for one of my baking experiments. I have to say, my coffee did taste good. I might stock up on a few cans of condensed milk when I get tired of putting spoonfuls of creamer, and sugar in my coffee.
Strong Vietnamese Coffee
They also had a chance to visit one of the coffee plantation, and found out that Vietnam ranked as the second coffee producer in the world, in particular of Robusta beans. However, they are now increasing their production of the Arabica beans, and are also trying to develop mixed beans for export.
On the same coffee plantation, the owner demonstrated how coffee is being brewed – Vietnamese style. Usually, coffee is being served in a single-cup filter, or brewer which they call phin. Your coffee is brewed beside you. Before tasting the coffee, they were warned that Vietnamese coffee is very strong, and is usually an acquired taste. Jean said that she did feel the kick when she had her first sip.
They both seem to agree that they might adapt the Vietnamese way of brewing coffee. They are thinking of partnering with the coffee plantation that they met to provide them their supply of coffee beans.
I didn’t want to leave,but my break was almost up (and also, I received an email from my supervisor that I have been coming back late from lunch – yikes!). I am so happy for both of them. They are a step closer to opening up the cafe.
I wonder what the name will before the coffee shop? Any suggestions?