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Take time to Smell the Coffee

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  • Take time to Smell the Coffee

    For most Westerners, Vietnam conjures up images of jungle and rice paddies or beautiful women in Ao Dai seeming to glide as they walk.
    Coffee professionals will know that Vietnam is the worlds second largest producer.
    Unless they have spent time in Vietnam, no one will understand the importance of coffee and its culture to the Vietnamese.
    I first struck the Vietnamese coffee culture in the seaside city of Vung tau.
    I had been picked up by my hosts at Ton Son nhat airport in Saigon and taken by minibus to Vung Tau. I met the family and settled in to my room , then it was time for dinner.
    After dinner, my host suggested we go for coffee.
    We travelled down to the waterfront, and to my amazement, every one in the city of half a million seemed to be there. One cafe after another lined the road, all of them busy with groups of family and friends enjoying the cool evening breeze with a coffee.
    We sat down in one of the cafes, a medium sized affair seating about 300, and ordered our drinks.
    Soon after, a waitress brought our coffees to the table. This was my first experience with a Ca Phe Phin, the little aluminium filter that sits on the glass making a single serve of delicious coffee. We also had taller glasses full of ice. It takes about 3-4 minutes for the coffee to filter into the glass. We watched the passing parade of motorbikes and people while the group attempted to ask me about Australia in their rudimentary english.Hai showed me how to use thelidof the phin to catch any drips, stir in a little sugar then tip the thick dark liquid over the ice.
    Wow! this was like no coffee I had ever tasted before.
    The rich flavours with hints of chocolate a nd vanilla and the strength of the first sip before the ice started todilute the coffee make an instant impression. Half an hour later I ordered another, then, like the rest of the group, tipped jasmine tea into the glass of ice and lst of the coffee for a refreshing end to the evening.
    Since then, I have drunk Ca Phe Da (literally, coffee with ice) all over the country. The morning starts with a coffee. At ho,e I make my own, but in Vietnam, I walk outside and spend less than 50 centson a Ca phe Da with the first vendor I see.
    But most important, I sit down, wait for my coffee to drip into the glass, lokk arround, make contact with people4, even if its just eye contact with me pointing at myself and saying Uc, the vietnamese word for Australia. Everyone smiles at each other, the coffee is relaxation, not something to be carried away i a paper cup and thrown down the throat regardless of taste while you run for the bus or negotiate the freeway.
    The west has a lot to learn from the Vietnamese enjoyment of coffee.
    We have allowed convenience to override our need for time to relax and enjoy one of lifes pleasures.
    A nondescript espresso or latte, gulped down on the way to do something else, is not a coffee break

  • #2
    Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

    ....so does that mean were gonna see a pile of Vietnamese robusta in beanbay soon Andy??   ;D

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    • #3
      Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

      i Would definatly welcome it ;D

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      • #4
        Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

        Originally posted by vietcoffeeman link=1175396333/0#0 date=1175396333
        the coffee is relaxation, not something to be carried away i a paper cup and thrown down the throat regardless of taste while you run for the bus or negotiate the freeway.
        The west has a lot to learn from the Vietnamese enjoyment of coffee.
        We have allowed convenience to override our need for time to relax and enjoy one of lifes pleasures.
        A nondescript espresso or latte, gulped down on the way to do something else, is not a coffee break
        I think youll find most people here on Coffee Snobs dont fit that generalisation.

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        • #5
          Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

          Originally posted by Segrave link=1175396333/0#2 date=1175410188
          i Would definatly welcome it ;D
          I think if any of it was good enough, Andy would already have had some available from BeanBay.... The couple of Robusta varieties we have had so far, from India and elsewhere, have been stand-outs and Im quite happy to stick with Andys choices when it comes to bean origins 8-)

          Mal.

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          • #6
            Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

            Originally posted by Thundergod link=1175396333/0#3 date=1175412879
            Originally posted by vietcoffeeman link=1175396333/0#0 date=1175396333
            the coffee is relaxation, not something to be carried away i a paper cup and thrown down the throat regardless of taste while you run for the bus or negotiate the freeway.
            The west has a lot to learn from the Vietnamese enjoyment of coffee.
            We have allowed convenience to override our need for time to relax and enjoy one of lifes pleasures.
            A nondescript espresso or latte, gulped down on the way to do something else, is not a coffee break
            I think youll find most people here on Coffee Snobs dont fit that generalisation.
            Very true TG [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

            Mal.

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            • #7
              Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

              It was not my intention to suggest the august members of this forum didnt take time over their coffee.
              Unfortunately we seem to be in the minirity as drive in coffee shops proliferate, and the major take aways advertise "freshly ground Arabica beans".
              Everywhere you look you see people scurrying along with a disposable cup of whatever they can get without waiting too long.
              I would suggest that real coffee lovers would view this thend with a little sadness.
              p.s. excuse my typos, my index finger is in a splint at the moment

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              • #8
                Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                I concur vietcoffeeman - we are forever trying to speed up, go faster, consume more in an effort to keep up with the speed of change perhaps?

                Personally I still cant work out why someone might want a milkshake container of beige coffee

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                • #9
                  Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                  In Vietnam, coffee is available everywhere. The lady in the markets with a little stall, the micro business at the front of someones house, the bamboo shade hut with hammocks set up at a country roadside to sell coffee and other beverages to the travellers and the most amazing coffeeshops in the cities. Some seat more than 800 (I have counted). The one thing you dont see is a takeaway cup. Everyone sits down and waits for their coffee to brew then enjoys it slowly. I hope Starbucks et al never get a foothold there. I believe they tried to purchase Trung Nguyen (the largest domestic operatop with more than 1000 company owned and franchised coffee houses), but were knokked back by Vu, the founder, who has a keen desire to export Vietnamese coffee culture to the world rather than import the American Way"

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                  • #10
                    Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                    Originally posted by vietcoffeeman link=1175396333/0#8 date=1175561496
                    In Vietnam, coffee is available everywhere. The lady in the markets with a little stall, the micro business at the front of someones house, the bamboo shade hut with hammocks set up at a country roadside to sell coffee and other beverages to the travellers and the most amazing coffeeshops in the cities. Some seat more than 800 (I have counted). The one thing you dont see is a takeaway cup. Everyone sits down and waits for their coffee to brew then enjoys it slowly. I hope Starbucks et al never get a foothold there. I believe they tried to purchase Trung Nguyen (the largest domestic operatop with more than 1000 company owned and franchised coffee houses), but were knokked back by Vu, the founder, who has a keen desire to export Vietnamese coffee culture to the world rather than import the American Way"

                    I am yet to try a Vietnamese bean that I like...so far....What about the piles of robusta left fermenting on the sides of roadways etc? :-?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                      There is a huge difference between the huge plantations set up to provide cheap Robusta for the commodity trade and the shade grown Arabicas Robustas and other varieties that go into the premium domestic brands like TN and Highlands

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                      • #12
                        Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee


                        I agree with the sit down and relax moral VCM.

                        The flip side was apparent last year when I went to Hawaii for a confernece. I went to a coffeshop that was sporting no less than a Synesso high end coffee machine and asked to have my espresso in a porcelain cup. The girl was a little taken aback by the request and eventually had to wash up one of the display cups to serve me the coffee. She told me that no-one ever uses these cups (and they only had a few).... I really hate the takeaway coffee culture.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                          VCM

                          I feel like Ive gone on Holidays just reading your post. Youve made me relax even more and enjoy my cuppa.

                          Too bad the majority of coffee providers only make semi brown swill or black tar instead of supplying the brown gold we all know it can be.

                          Juls

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                          • #14
                            Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                            I am guilty of the takeaway cup. I always grab a coffee on the way to the hospital for my Herceptin treatment from the local cibo as the stuff they have at the RAH is

                            The barista at cibo always makes it beautifully and while I sit down to get plugged in I can enjoy sipping my yummy coffee and reading a magazine.

                            Takeaway paper cups have their place.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Take time to Smell the Coffee

                              Lucinda, I am glad you sit down and enjoy your coffee relaxing with a magazine. That is the important part. Of course there are situations where a takeaway cup is necessary, but they shouldnt ever be the only way to have a coffee.
                              As for you Julsajet, I think you have a good idea, "coffee tourism". Rob Davies in the Uk combines an online travel service specializing in Indo China and also an on line site for Trung Nguyen Coffee. He just needs to put the two together!

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