Vietnam Secret: Is Coffee Smell Missing On The Street?

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, Oct 3 (DHA) - A morning rush can often be well relieved by coffee smell. Be it on the streets of Melbourne, Paris or Moscow, a cup of the seducing bitter liquid can somehow compensate for crowded sidewalks, lines of people at the train stations or of cars in front of traffic lights at each downtown intersection.

But in cities around Vietnam, the world's top producer and exporter of robusta beans used mainly for making instant coffee, the smell of this typical morning drink loved by millions worldwide is often absent on the street. But instead visitors can see at almost every street corner a coffee shop with small tables and stools and an army of loyal fans of the magic drink.

So why is the coffee smell missing in Hanoi, Hue or Ho Chi Minh City? Even right in the key cities of the Central Highlands* coffee haven such as Buon Ma Thuot of Daklak province, Dalat of Lam Dong or Pleiku in Gia Lai, the smell is not really around, unless you are in the neighbourhood of a roastery.

The secret answer lies in coffee brewing method. Outside Vietnam, the smell takes off from its industrial runway - coffee machines. The equipment has also started emerging in Starbucks and other coffee outlets around Vietnam's major cities, while locals have their own way of making their coffee.

"Coffee is brewed in a traditional filter, dripping into a single cup below (this may predate the pour-over so popular at hipster cafes in the US), producing a thick, intense brew that is sipped black, or enjoyed with the traditional sweetened condensed milk," said a story published on CNN Travel section to mark the October 1 International Coffee Day. (Link to the CNN story)

Vietnam's special way of brewing does not spread much the coffee smell. Instead, the smell is absorbed along with boiling water through the coffee powder in the aluminium filter, covered by a lid, and gently lands in the cup below.

Vietnam Secret: Is Coffee Smell Missing On The Street?

Coffee powder is put inside the aluminium filter, filled with boiling water.

The special brewing way seems to keep the coffee smell from spreading in the air. Photo by Ho Binh Minh/DHA.

The CNN story lists 10 locations around the world where the best coffee can be found. Hanoi stands third in the line, which starts with New Zealand's Wellington and ends with Nigeria. Interestingly, the list does not include Brazil, the world's biggest coffee producer, several South American nations such as Colombia or Peru or even Indonesia, Vietnam's robusta rival producer.

CNN writers go on to give description of several Vietnamese coffee types as a drink as well as addresses of Hanoi shops where visitors can try a combination of the familiar coffee with egg or coconut.

Later this month, Hanoi will see thousands of people taking to the street to join one of the country's biggest marathons, the running courses of which has been certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The VPBank Hanoi Marathon Heritage Race 2019 (VHM) is due to take place in Hanoi downtown and several parts of the city on October 20, 2019, with an expected turnaround of up to 7,000 runners.

VHM results can be used to qualify for attending the Boston Marathon, one of the six World's Marathon Majors.

VHM, along with the Halong Bay Heritage Marathon scheduled to take place on November 24 at the World's Natural Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO, has been promoted by AIMS at the Berlin Marathon 2019.


The Central Highlands region, comprising of five provinces Daklak, Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum, supplies about 80 percent of Vietnam's coffee shipments, the bulk of them semi-processed robusta beans which will be roasted, ground and packed in one of the destinations, most likely Germany, the United States or Italy (the top three buyers of Vietnamese coffee beans) before going to shops or supermarket shelves.



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