Coffee trees were first introduced to Vietnam by the French in 1857. Since then, the country has developed its own distinct coffee culture. When mentioning Vietnam, the first drink that most coffeephiles instinctively think about is a dark brew made with a small drip filter (cà phê phin), which is mixed with condensed milk to create a strong yet sugary flavour. Take a quick stroll in any Vietnamese city and you will see rows of traditional cafés lining the streets, while seemingly never-ending crowds of patrons sit at short tables eagerly awaiting their orders.
The specialty coffee movement has been active in Vietnam for some time now. In addition to being the world’s second largest exporter of commercial-grade coffee (typically made from robusta beans which are better equipped to deal with lower latitude climates), a new generation of producers is working closely with local farmers to grow Arabica beans (traditionally grown in higher latitude areas), by providing training of proper planting, cultivation, harvesting and processing methods. Thanks to years of hard work, the quality of Vietnamese speciality coffee has greatly improved, making it a top choice for connoisseurs in Japan, Europe, the Americas and elsewhere.
Brew-da directly imports Arabica beans from villages in Da Lat, located in Lam Dong Province in the central highlands of Vietnam. These are: washed Catimor from K’ho Village and honey processed Catimor from Cau Dat.
Heavily steeped in French colonial-era atmosphere, the scenic city of Da Lat sits 1,500 metres above sea level, the city’s average annual temperature hovers between 18° C and 25° C. Its agricultural sector has developed rapidly in recent years, with special attention focussed on growing Arabica beans.
K’ho ethnic minority tribespeople have resided in K’ho Village on the Lang Biang Mountain in Da Lat for centuries. The village has traditionally relied on farming fruits and raising water buffalos. Although there used to be no systematic production of coffee in the village, producers joined together to establish a cooperative aimed at promoting local cultivation. The cooperative launched an initiative to encourage production of high-quality coffee by educating the villagers on how to plant arabica trees and teaching them proper cultivation, harvesting and processing techniques. This project ensured that coffee grown in the area is of high quality, while also guaranteeing a steady source of income for local farmers.
K’ho Village possesses optimal conditions for the healthy growth of coffee. Located at an altitude of 1,450–1,650 metres above sea level, the village’s lush vegetation offers ample shade for the plants, while bazan red soil from volcanoes supplies a rich source of nutrients. The coffee made from beans grown in K’ho Village is hearty with a pleasing aroma of chocolate and caramel.
Cau Dat Village
Cau Dat Village is one of the most ideal places to cultivate coffee in Vietnam’s Lam Dong Province. Located 1,550–1,700 metres above sea level, the average daily temperature fluctuates drastically, dipping as low as 5° C at night and reaching as high as 33° C during the day, which enriches the beans grown here by increasing their flavour complexity. Furthermore, the nutritious soil is not only great for coffee production, it is also used to grow produce like Vietnamese passion fruit, persimmons and bananas. The lush vegetation not only provides generous shade that shields coffee trees from the harsh sunlight, it also helps create the ideal conditions to nurture a healthy and diverse ecosystem.
Coffee beans from Cau Dat are known for their strong aroma, mild acidity and clean, clear aftertaste.