The must-try: Drip-filter coffee
Usually roasted in butter, Vietnamese coffee beans are then brewed in metal filters. Some filters are small enough to rest on a cup of coffee and make perfect souvenirs; others are so large that they need to hold a team. The moments spent waiting to brew your coffee are part of the enjoyment of this coffee style.
Black Vietnamese coffee is an acquired taste because of its bitterness. Feel free to sweeten your drink (you’ll find that many locals do) with condensed milk, or blend it with ice. A quintessential Vietnamese coffee experience is a cold cà phê sữa đá on a hot day.
Best to warm the soul: Hot egg coffee
The story goes that when milk was scarce after the war, Hanoians still craved something to keep their coffee off the edge. Egg yolks, affordable and smooth, emerged as the ideal substitute. For its delicious goodness, cà phê tr ⁇ ng continued even as Vietnam became more prosperous and milk returned to the market.
It’s a must-try specialty Hanoi beverage now, particularly during the winter months. Atop a rich brew sits a thick, frothy head of foam: gently fold it in with a spoon, and drink slowly.
Best to cool you down: Coconut coffee
In Vietnam, very few cities hide from the summer heat. Why not try an iced coconut coffee if you start to overheat while exploring? A pick-me-up, fill-me-up, and cool-me-down at once is more of a scoop-able ice cream than a drinkable coffee, coconut coffee or cà phê c ⁇ t d ⁇ a. Traditional drip coffee with coconut milk, fresh milk, and condensed milk will be blended by the barista.
Spooned into a bottle, the finished product acts as a soothing treat. With the coconut, the coffee grounds the flavor and gives the drink a friendly tropical twist, sort of like a coffee cocktail.
Best for an afternoon snack: Yoghurt coffee
You really can’t go wrong with a tempting yoghurt coffee, better known as cà phê s’a chua, a strange and wonderful alternative to milk. The drink mixes yoghurt, condensed milk, and ice with Vietnamese drip coffee, though the last two are optional. On menus around Hanoi, you’ll find ca phe sua chua, but the best coffee shops use new, home-made yoghurt.
The sourness from the yoghurt, bitterness from the coffee beans, and sweetness from the condensed milk makes for a mouthwatering combination.
Best for a sugar rush: Bac xiu
Look no further than cà phê bạc xỉu if you’ve tried the Vietnamese iced coffee and can manage something even sweeter. The ingredients are basically the same as a cà phê sữa đá holy trinity: coffee, condensed milk, and crushed ice. The distinction is all in the proportions, with less coffee going into a bac xiu with more milk.
The drink is popular with teenagers still learning to appreciate the bitterness of Robusta coffee.