Travel: Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Tuesday, 2 February, 2016
Vietnamese Egg Coffee!
I’d like an order of eggs and coffee please, but mixed together.

By Megan Rich

Whenever you arrive in a new country the interweb is your first point of call, your guidebook to discover the best of the countryside. So when we arrived in the chilly city of Hanoi in Vietnam the famous egg coffee from Cafe Giang kept popping up. Naturally we followed other tourists’ breadcrumbs and soon enough found ourselves hunting the streets of the Old Quarter in Hanoi looking for the mythical cafe and the cà phê trứng.

Vietnam is the second biggest exporter of coffee in the world and produces mostly robusta coffee. Their coffee is a lot richer and darker then we’re used to in South African coffee shops - the ‘usual’ is phin filter coffee and condensed milk.

After a fair while of searching we finally located the hidden entrance and walked down the narrow alleyway to find a secret cafe filled with locals and the occasional traveller or expat. We didn’t even bother to look at the menu; it was egg coffees all round.

The egg coffee arrived at our tiny table in a small cup that was placed in a saucer filled with hot water (to retain the heat) and a spoon alongside it. Our first sip resulted in foamy moustaches and by the third we had realised what the spoon was for - to mix in the coffee sitting at the bottom into the thick foamy layer of deliciousness that was floating above it.

It tasted like gooey soft marshmallows mingled with a smooth coffee aftertaste... something I never thought I would taste while sipping on coffee. But it’s Vietnam and the egg coffee is famous here; so I embraced the drink that reminded me very little of my morning coffee and more of a wonderful dessert.

Egg Coffee originated in Vietnam in the 1940s in the exact cafe we were sitting in, Cafe Giang. The cafe’s founder, Mr. Nguyen Giang, used eggs instead of milk, as it was a difficult ingredient to find and created the delicious recipe of egg, condensed milk and coffee.

The egg really does pair well with the coffee and you don’t even taste it. If you ever in Vietnam remember to embrace the strong and sweet flavours that assault your taste buds. My only regret is that I didn’t try the yogurt coffee, now that would have been interesting!

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