Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of robusta coffee. The coffee industry goes back to colonial times when the French, taking advantage of the climate, created massive plantations.
Today, coffee is grown in the Central Highlands, around Buon Me Thuot in Đắk Lắk province. With an average altitude of 500-600 metres, the rich basalt soil, is ideal for planting not only coffee but also tea, cacao, pepper, and white mulberry. The harvest takes place in November when farmers then have about two months to pick the ripe beans. After drying the crop they sell it to middlemen and other buyers. Figures for 2013, showed that roughly 85 per cent of the local population earned their livelihood from the coffee industry, which created some 500,000 jobs in the region
Enjoying coffee is a daily way of life in the Central Highlands and its importance is reflected in the local Gong culture and the traditional festivals of the region.
If you go to Buon Me Thuot, you must taste the famous cà phê chồn. Palm civets forage for coffee beans and then excrete them, producing a much in demand coffee. Now, a Vietnamese breeder is adopting a similar technique with his herd of elephants!
Another beverage worth trying is cà phê bo, a coffee roasted with local butter, This adds a different flavor to the local product while masking any imperfections in the original beans.
Sadly, with the habitats of the civet threatened by deforestation, this type of coffee might become a thing of the past. Also, the excessive use of chemicals and over-irrigation are posing a further risk to Vietnamese coffee.
- By Fabien Vuillerey -
Dalat Cafe Ngoai O
At the edge of the coffee plantations, in Dalat, former french colonial hill station, enjoy a flavoured cofee with superb views over a pine-forested mountains landscape. No. 31/1 3 Thang 4 Street- Dalat
The square around St. Joseph's Cathedral square, is the place to taste traditional Vietnamese coffee while watching the world go by. And there's no better time than on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings during weekend mass.