Viet Nam News
Throughout the decades of history since it finally made its appearance in Việt Nam at the end of the 19th century, coffee has found ways to adapt itself to the tastes of the citizens in this tropical country.
As one of the national’s cultural icons, the drink is one of the most easily adapted one to urban changes and is expresses some of the latest trends as well.
The sultry air of August couldn’t keep coffee aficionados from rushing to the modern and trendy four-story building of Vpresso Coffee at its first opening in the city centre at 45 Lý Quốc Sư Street, Hoàn Kiếm District.
So far, the Lý Quốc Sư is the twelfth coffee chain to be opened by Vpresso, following other shops which have previously been established across the capital.
Gourmets who were accustomed to the presence of popular brands like Starbucks, Highlands and Trung Nguyên are at the moment stunned and cheerful with the Vpresso Coffee chain that recently celebrated its five years anniversary in Việt Nam.
Slowly does it: One of the company’s baristas using the hand drip method of making coffee. — Photo courtesy of Vpresso Coffee Company
Vpresso is owned by Sung Seung-hoon, general director of May Emerald Limited Company. Sung is a Korean who has been passionate about Vietnamese coffee since the first time he observed people watching every drop in the phin. He said he has always been fascinated with the local culture of drinking coffee.
“This is the central area of Hà Nội. Young people and tourists flock here, so I think this is a good opportunity to present the best coffee of Vpresso to Hanoians as well as to tourists from all over the world. Besides, this area is also a heaven for food with lots of restaurant, bars and coffee shops. It is our honour to bring the best products of Vpresso here. We are very proud to say that all our coffee products come from Việt Nam. We grow, hand-pick, roast, blend and pack locally in order to provide a full and true vision of our coffee to customers,” said Sung.
Sung also understands that as the world’s second largest coffee producer and a big exporter of coffee, Vietnamese coffee beans have a unique and distinctive quality. However, its coffee quality has been underestimated in the world market.
“I have studied many coffee farms across the country, and discovered some farmers putting lots of chemicals into the beans when they produce robusta, one of the three main species of coffee. It was good for the beans, but not enough, so it made me think of a new way to renovate the quality,” Sung said.
He emphasised the purpose of Vpresso is to deliver the freshest and most natural-ingredient coffee to customers, so the best time for sampling coffee has been shortened to within six months, which is shorter than other brands, so as to keep the coffee at its best taste and condition.
According to the brand’s representative, Vietnamese coffee is traditionally savoured by slowly brewing it to bring out the strong flavour, frequently sweetened with condensed milk. However, an increasing number of youngsters are starting to explore espresso, an Italian method of forcing hot water through coffee under high pressure.
By researching different methods of making coffee with world-class equipment, Vpresso has also been successful in balancing the ratio of robusta and arabica beans together, thanks to which the taste bears both a strong and fruity flavour with a smooth texture.
A 25-year-old customer Nguyễn Ngọc Châu said this new taste thrilled her, since she has become accustomed to robusta coffee products only.
“This is a whole new experience to me. I feel really excited and pleased by trying it. Now I can indulge in aromatic coffee everyday,” she said.
What really talks of Vpresso’s style is how they make various kinds of coffee blends to bring out the variety of flavours in each type of bean. Especially its first basic seven blends that are simply numbered 05, 25, 50, 17, 37, 30 and 84.
Expanding: Vpresso has just opened its 12th shop at 45 Lý Quốc Sư Street. — Photo courtesy of Vpresso Coffee Company
According to Sung, each number represents a certain meaning of the brand in its commitment to bring out the highest quality of the beans to customers, as well as the taste.
“For example, number 17 blend brings out a mix of floral, grapefruit and plum, such that its citrus-floral freshness and flavorfulness will make drinkers feel like they are seventeen again, while number 84 represents the country code of Việt Nam, as the blend is 100 per cent high quality robusta beans grown locally,” he adds.
Yet, even a not-so-into coffee person like myself fell hard for the flavour of brand number 50 from catimor beans, which combines jasmine with a winy, floral mingling. The coffee is balanced, round, smooth, fruity and aromatic. Best brewed with a hand drip and siphon, catimor is a match of arabica and robusta with a perfectly balanced body and a clean after taste.
“Last year, we were ready to offer better coffee to our customers, so we decided to open more shops in the centre - one new store on Hai Bà Trưng Street, and one on Lý Quốc Sưeet. In the near future, we also plan to open another in West Lake.
I am confident that Vpresso will mark its name as the representative of traditional Vietnamese coffee in the global market,” said the young ambitious general director. — VNS