Introduced in the 1800s during the French colonial period, coffee is a crop that has marked the history and culture of Vietnam. Following the turmoil of reunification, Vietnam has now established itself as the world’s second largest producer of coffee.
Coffee: The Miracle Bean
While initially restricted to a few privately-owned Arabica plantations during French rule, production rapidly took off following the Doi Moi reforms of 1986. The shift towards a market economy came with sweeping reforms to land ownership. Combined with advice from the IMF and World Bank to develop the crop for export, farmers began growing coffee at breakneck speeds.
However, the massive and sudden demand pushed farmers to prioritize quantity over quality. 95% of Vietnam’s coffee production is Robusta. Largely confined to the Central Highlands, the small portion of Arabica produced in the country is done so almost entirely within Lam Dong Province. The volcanic soil of these areas lends itself particularly well to growing the crop.
Coffee remains a huge part of Vietnamese society and culture. An estimated 2.6 million people rely on the coffee trade for a livelihood, and coffee permeates every aspect of Vietnamese cuisine and culture.
From the ever-popular cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk), to the bracing and intense cà phê đen (black coffee, prepared with a traditional phin drip-filter), to the creamy and thick cà phê trứng (coffee served with an egg yolk-based cream), Vietnamese coffee is a multi-faceted experience that’s sure to lure in even the most stubborn of coffee haters.
At Propaganda, we strive to offer a coffee experience that lives up to the 200 years of history and culture the drink occupies in Vietnamese society. Brewed fresh to order, we offer both classic Vietnamese preparations like cà phê sữa đá, as well as rarer, select Vietnamese-grown beans of both Robusta and Arabica varieties.
The coffee we serve