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Coffee -- Vietnamese and other [split from Manhattan]

jonkyo Jul 13, 2013 08:00 AM

[Note: This thread was split from the Manhattan board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/907080 -- The Chowhound Team]

The Orchard Vietnamese place is called An Choi.

They have Kampuchia beer, that is beer from Cambodia.

For some reason, Vietnamese places in this city and perhaps other locations west coast use Cafe Dumound mixws with Vietnam bean / roast.

I have drank Cafe Dumound long ago, and do find this mixing strange, for Vietnam boasts one of the most unique coffee growing, clutivating and consuming cultures in the world.

It is unfortunate they water their own culture down, simply to display a wall of the classic can of Cafe Dumound. None the less, I still take to the coffee.

  1. Peter Cuce Jul 13, 2013 07:50 PM

    Actually, while Vietnam is one of the largest producing countries, almost all of their production is low quality. You never see Vietnamese coffee being used in specialty coffee shops around the world for that reason. I don't know how Cafe Du Monde became the standard, but Trung Nguyen is no better. If you take the time to talk to Vietnamese people who know good coffee, you will find most of them in despair at the coffee options available in their country.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Peter Cuce
      j
      jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 09:25 AM

      I am surprised at this, for when I was in Vietnam, I spent my time, much of it during the day, at various cafes, that dot just about any residential or city block.

      I found the coffee quite good. I even bought beans from Vietnam and sent them to family and friends.

      The reason for this was at some places, not necessarily the ones most inviting for American and European travelers, presented beans that the locals are used to buying. This included things I had not so much of a clue about, other than the roasting process or drying process had elements of soaking the beans in wine; mixing spices, etc. They were as pleased as I.

      For my American coffee friends, they state as you state, about low quality of beans in Vietnam. The beans are said to be robusta.

      I simply go on taste. If the coffee was not good, I would have not sat hours a day with the FT or books, at these cafes, where tables of locals spend hours, drinking coffee and playing cards or talking.

      My coffee friends in the US have always been pleased with coffee I send from roasters in Asia or Europe. As for their suggestions, I tend to always fall back on my own.

      In the US I make it simple and brew from the Dominican and Puerto Rican brick coffees. These include Caibe, Pilon, Goya, and others that don't come to mind but are in this category.

      The American roasters of recent are following the footsteps of the Microbrewers. Nice interesting names and labels, but failure to know what they are doing to make the coffee good.

      D'amico Roasters, is excellent, and just around the corner from my old neighborhood. Oren is horrible, and have not found much in the more recent established roasters from Long Is and Brooklyn.

      If I return to Vietnam, one is sure to find me in some of the corner open cafes which are less refined in sense of interior design. I will be with a cup of coffee, be it 胡志明市 (Saigon) or 河內 (Hanoi).

      河內 (he nei) Hanoi in Chinese is river/inside literally. This has something to do with the many waterways and lakes in this spectacular capital city, actually my favored capital to some extent, in the world.

      內臟 (nei zang) means internal organs, and if you find yourself in 河內 or even NYC, I recommend checking out the ethnic districts (in NYC's case) for ordering up some 內臟 (as opposed to the ubiquitous selection in the US: pork, beef or chicken).

      內 nei is just location of inside.

      example: 紐約內部 niuyueneibu (inside New York)

      1. re: Peter Cuce
        j
        jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 09:48 AM

        One may wonder why the Latin Brick coffee, I prefer here, to all others. It is simply that the roasts are dark roasted, and the coffee is easy to brew, as it is finely ground. I brew it in the mid east/ athens/croatian style (turkish style that is, we could say Ottoman, as it extents to Ottoman ruled or influenced places). I also do the manual drip.

        They are potent in regards to caffeine, and the taste is always the same, dark roasted and brilliant to one extent or another.

        I recommend Touba coffee from Senegal. This can be purchased at West African shops. They use longberry in it. I had this in the countryside and smaller cities of West Africa. The larger cities usually have Arab owned cafes / diners / venues, and it is too easy to gravitate to them and have espresso. But the Touba coffee is drank all through Senegal, and it is really nice.

        In London, at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, I found a few times Puerto Rican beans. Some good roasters there, but they are the family second and third generation, not the newer trendy ones. I found this to be a rare experience. I have never anywhere else, found actual beans labeled Puerto Rican. Goya and other I am sure use Brazil and Colombian beans.

        1. re: jonkyo
          Peter Cuce Jul 15, 2013 11:35 AM

          People have learned to associate dark roasted beans with strong coffee, which, before the current era, had come to be perceived as quality - strong coffee = good coffee. However, beans are roasted darkly because they are low quality - this is the only way to cover up the defects. When you drink dark-roasted coffee, pretty much all you are tasting is the roast. In addition, much of the dark-roasted coffee available is sold in bags with no roast date, meaning it was probably roasted long ago. Generally coffee tastes best if made from beans roasted no longer than two weeks prior to consumption. When you drink old coffee, it tastes dry and flat, with none of the energy that it originally had. Some people perceive this as the way coffee is supposed to taste. They think espresso is supposed to be bitter.

          1. re: Peter Cuce
            l
            Lau Jul 15, 2013 11:50 AM

            how do they get it dark roasted?

            there is a kind of coffee from malaysia called white coffee that doesnt use sugar so the beans are lighter in color, pretty popular in malaysia / singapore. i like it quite a bit, but it tastes different (btw i'm not a coffee connoisseur by any means)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipoh_whi...

            1. re: Lau
              j
              jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 12:52 PM

              I have not a clue about this.

              In Brazil one can enjoy a product that is made from the usually discarded fruity skin around the bean, only. It is loaded with caffeine and is delicious. They export this product but I have never been able to locate it in NYC.

              1. re: Lau
                j
                jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 01:42 PM

                Ipoh white coffee sounds nice. Roasting with palm oil. this brings memory of Vietnam coffee of many sorts.

                The US did coffee a grand disservice with flavored coffees. This began to take root when diner culture gave way to the cafe, in the early 1980s, maybe. Then the flavors added to coffee using these tall glass bottles of liquid of all sorts. Its like the candy isle. Its disgraceful.

                Asian such as the Vietnamese using differing ways to condition the bean in the processing of it, is done in ways that add to the nature of the bean in more natural ways. As does this palm oil coffee.

                1. re: Lau
                  Peter Cuce Jul 15, 2013 02:16 PM

                  That's interesting and strange! Coffee is generally roasted only by itself with no extra ingredients. I cannot imagine having coffee roasted with margarine and/or sugar. Coffee becomes dark because it is carbonized - it only happens when you roast it for a long time. I don't know anything about the effects of other ingredients.

                  1. re: Peter Cuce
                    l
                    Lau Jul 15, 2013 03:08 PM

                    yah you can get the instant version over here which isn't bad, but if you've over in malaysia / singapore its quite common and you'll see it advertised fairly regularly. i think its delicious

                    1. re: Peter Cuce
                      j
                      jonkyo Jul 18, 2013 08:44 AM

                      Another way they get interesting conditioned beans for coffee in Vietnam, aside from soaking beans in wine, and other things, is collecting the coffee beans from an animal that eats the fruit of the coffee plant, but does not digest the coffee bean, and the coffee beans are left in the animal's dung piles.

                      This is something that defies boarders, and it appears to done in other parts of South East Asia.

                      When I was in Vietnam, someone mentioned this, and stated I could try this type of coffee preparation, if I went and visited Da Lat, in the mountain area, west from the coast closer to Saigon.

                      Here is a wikipedia page on this:
                      Kopi Luwak: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak

                      I was amazed at the conditioned coffee beans styles in Vietnam. All wonderful and delicious.

                      I do not take to flavored coffee, nor do I appreciate sugar and milk in coffee, unless Italian manners of preparation such as cappuccino, but to this day have never had a Latte.

                      Thus stated, these preparations of beans by some people in regions of the world, that use nature so to speak, are something I appreciate. You might check them out.

                      Touba coffee of Senegal is with longberry.
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A...

                      I discovered that as I sat in outside a local cafe, in Foundiougne, Senegal, and a Senegalese also taking some coffee, who spoke English, told me of this, to explain the taste I was tasting.

                      That was after I caught a ride from the small city/town of Passi on a horse and cart coming from Passi market.

                      see: Passi Road, Foundiougne, Fatick, Senegal

                      Touba coffee can be found at west african market stores.

                  2. re: Peter Cuce
                    j
                    jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 11:56 AM

                    I agree to some extent.

                    I love Peru coffee and other beans. In London I have bought many roasted at one time, and they are not at all dark, unless Sumatra.

                    In Asia, especially Taiwan, I have purchased beans of varying flavors, and splendid tastes are derived from the beans. I gravitate to Central American beans, and have actually made my own Mocha Java, mixing Yemeni beans with beans from Java. I have done that most ideally from beans purchased in London. I have duplicated that or tried to in other places, but due to lack of Yemeni beans, use Ethiopian beans.

                    Here in the US, I have lost that, and find myself a more generalized drinker of coffee. For one I had been living in hotels for much, hence, less ideal for brewing.

                    The drip coffee makers in the hotels are ideal for simply pouring in the coffee to the glass pots as the hot water drips, then using a strainer as you pour the coffee into the cup, after a bit a brew time. Cleaning ladies do not like this method, and must think I do not know how to use the coffee maker. The pots are left with grinds in them, which with a bit of rinse, they are gone.

                    So, I understand all you say. Thanks.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce
                      j
                      jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 01:19 PM

                      A cohort loves 71 Irving Place Coffee .

                      Ever since I was introduced to this place years ago, I have never found it inviting. The beans are roasted Upstate. Wow. So all the gas to drive them here is a waste considering serious coffee lovers. Luckily, for the revenue of this place, there is a surplus of people who just pour coffee down their throats, and don't taste. Or use the cup as a prop, while they talk or use a handheld device.

                      First off, cafes in the US are horrible. Paper cups for one. Another is that the coffee even in some up market places, is brewed in large batches, and sits in these petroleum based (plastic) to some extent manufactured thermos. Remind me more of second grade with my super hero thermos. This is deplorable. I have seen French people running from these places.

                      When Starbucks hit Taipei like a storm, in about 1998 or 1999, it killed the more quality based places that brewed in the Austrian-Japan siphon manner (one cup at a time).

                      Luckily when that happened, I no longer lived in Taipei. The unfree or quesi-free market in other places such as the south, with obstructions due to large firms or industrial giants dominating the market, Starbucks has not taken root like it did in Taipei. So, there is to this day, a wonderful home spun, for more than two decades, cafe culture there.

                      There they have long been roasters, some have antique imported roasting machines, reconditioned from Europe. 曼特林 (mantelin) caffe is basically sumantra. Just one very popular roast. Think volcanic soil. Yum.

                      I still like hunting out good espresso in manhattan. But the thermos? Might as well hit a diner or McDonalds.

                      1. re: jonkyo
                        Peter Cuce Jul 19, 2013 03:29 PM

                        The point of Chowhound is to find the best stuff. It's really not good form to talk about the worst places and imply that their mass-market characteristics, indifferent preparation, and poor ingredients somehow represent every single place in existence.

                        New York City has some of the best coffee and cafe culture in the US, but not at EVERY cafe. The average coffee in NYC is still terrible. But if you choose carefully out of the approximately 400 modern coffee shops, maybe about 50 places total, you can get some well-roasted, lovingly prepared coffee served to you by a knowledgeable, friendly person, in a ceramic cup, for a reasonable price.

                        Chowhound, among other resources, can help you find such places. Why not try to be happy and enjoy the good stuff sometimes?

                        1. re: Peter Cuce
                          j
                          jonkyo Aug 2, 2013 02:35 PM

                          You have highlighted some character attributes perhaps.

                          Though, in our American culture, such critiques that find fault have been applied to such things comedy, drama, or simply, reporting.

                          Spending 6 paragraphs on my displeasure that I have 碰见, run into, may help others in their sifting through the facts that you have so intelligently displayed, ie: 400 modern coffee shops.

                          And yes, it is good that you point this out, and it is true that Chowhound is about that, finding what is good. That is unless one enjoys bad experiences for some reason that may or may not be maladaptive, or based on self-flagellation.

                          But to be honest, I like finding the places on my own, without the internet. Even in NYC, it is fun to poke around. Stumbling upon places, daring to try, and finding for oneself is a joy. Then reporting.

                          Its the expert knowledge about the food, say coming from your coffee experience, or others on some taste, that is neat to have a dialectic with ones own knowledge or lack of it, and applying this to ones explorations.

                          Of course there are hints or suggestions found here on Chowhound that I take and apply to behavior or action. Certainly. i think that was with coffee suggestions found earlier on threads by you, and taco suggestions.

                  3. re: Peter Cuce
                    JMF Aug 5, 2013 09:44 AM

                    I've been to Vietnam and found some of the best coffee shops in the world there. I bought many different types of their local coffee and was amazed. I haven't been back in almost nine years but I would think that if anything the coffee has gotten better.

                    1. re: JMF
                      j
                      jonkyo Aug 9, 2013 10:04 AM

                      "I've been to Vietnam and found some of the best coffee shops in the world there."

                      I would say the same.

                  4. MVNYC Jul 13, 2013 08:09 AM

                    I have asked some Vietnamese people before about Cafe Du Monde and they gave me the same answer as this article, it was similar to coffee back home. Especially before the latest coffee boom in the 1970's when immigrants were coming to the US.

                    http://www.salon.com/2009/12/07/vietn...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MVNYC
                      j
                      jonkyo Jul 15, 2013 09:00 AM

                      Thank you for correcting my French on that.

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