Vietnamese coffee stands out from other counterparts with its bold and strong taste. If you’ve tried it before, the chance is it would leave a long-lasting impression in your mind. It can be a love-hate drink, depending on your personal preferences. But why Vietnamese coffee is so strong? Let’s take a look a few decisive factors.
What you need to know about coffee strength?
Many people often determine a strong coffee based on bold flavour or caffeine content. Nevertheless, there is not a universal definition for it.
It is significant to know that the intensity and strength of coffee are not the same. Total dissolved solids or TDS is the measure of the dissolved components, including both organic and inorganic substances.
Most experts often use this measurement to determine whether coffee is weak or strong. On the other hand, intensity refers to the perceived potency of the drink. For instance, a strong coffee might have a mild flavour, while a weak drink might have an intense flavour.
Overall, whether coffee is strong or not will depend on personal tastes and preferences. A strong drink for some people might be weak for others. Thus, you should try out specific coffee styles to know which one you like.
Why is Vietnamese coffee so strong?
Vietnamese coffee is typically brewed with robusta beans. They contain more than twice the caffeine content than that in Arabica counterparts.
In addition, the level of acidity in these categories are also higher. This contributes to the strong and bitter taste that can impress you when drinking Vietnamese coffee.
In fact, many people who try out Vietnamese coffee often describe it as burnt rubber. To be honest, most of them might hate the beverage for the first few times. Nevertheless, if you are a true coffee lover, it is not difficult to notice the cool and fresh feel after drinking it, particularly during the scorching summer.
Another factor that makes Vietnamese coffee strong is the use of French roasted beans. They processed at a higher temperature and for more time. This allows more content and properties to come out and contribute to the taste or flavour. French roast has a typical dark colour like chocolate.
Because Vietnamese is so strong, it is often served in small portions. Like its slow drips, a strong and small cup can encourage slow drinking. And if the drink is good, you might want to make it last as long as possible.
How to reduce bitterness in Vietnamese coffee?
If you want to enjoy Vietnamese coffee without the strong taste and bitterness, below are a few ways to try:
A. Add milk or cream
In fact, Vietnamese is known for the use of sweetened condensed milk. Incredibly sugary, dreamy, and thick milk is a great way to counteract this dark-roasted and strong drink. The exact amount to add depends on your taste. It is advisable to start with a tablespoon of milk or cream to see whether you like it. You might then add more if it is still too bitter.
B. Add sugar
Of course, the sweetness is one of the first things coming to our mind to reduce the bitterness of coffee. Only a tablespoon can give the drink a sweeter taste. You can use either brown sugar or white sugar for this method.
A better option can be cane sugar, which often contains fewer additives. Avoid adding too much because it can ruin your coffee experience. And do not forget that excessive consumption of sugar can be harmful to your health.
C. Add a bit of salt
In addition to sweetness, adding a bit of salt to Vietnamese coffee could help suppress the bitterness and boost its flavour. This is simply because salt can make sodium content in coffee become more distinct and overwhelm other properties.
Keep in mind to use only a small amount for your freshly brewed coffee. Adding too much would ruin the flavour and create a salty drink.
D. Reduce water temperature
Hotter water can extract flavours more quickly. Therefore, you can reduce the water temperature to make the coffee less strong. Simply let boiled water sit 1 to 2 minutes before pouring over the grounds.
E. Reduce brewing time
There is a threshold where the unpleasant flavour properties in coffee beans can be dissolved during the brewing. It takes a bit of experimentation to figure out. Vietnamese coffee often requires 4 to 6 minutes. The longer the brewing process, the stronger the taste can be.
Do Vietnamese always drink strong coffee?
No. Although original Vietnamese coffee is extremely dark and intense, it is not the only option that the locals drink every day.
In fact, many people often mix their Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk to reduce bitterness and strong taste. This version is also known as “ca phe nau”. If you want to try out this coffee culture for the first time, it is recommended to start with this option because the original taste can be too strong for most people.
Even more, Vietnamese people come up with a variety of versions to meet different tastes. The lists include egg coffee, beer coffee, coconut coffee, salt coffee, coffee smoothies, and more. This is not surprising because coffee is a part of daily life in this country.
The bottom line
To sum up, the secret of Vietnamese coffee’s strong taste comes from the combination of ingredients and brewing method. The use of dark arabica beans and phin helps bring out most of the properties in the grounds.
If you want to enjoy coffee to the fullest, Vietnamese is a perfect option. But in case your friends prefer a sweeter or milder taste, it is possible to add condensed milk or ice to reduce its bitterness.