As a lover of strong coffee, I’m quite fond of how the Vietnamese prepare it. In its simplest form, it’s a pour-over (a style of filter coffee), usually made with robusta beans rather than arabica, served either warm or iced. Taken black, this coffee is too bitter for many people’s tastes — locals as well as visitors — and it’s often mixed with condensed milk.
Since Vietnam is a major producer, coffee shops can be found everywhere, and Vietnamese-style coffee isn’t even all that difficult to find in the United States. But there are two iterations of the beverage you’re unlikely to see outside of Hanoi, let alone in the U.S.
Egg coffee is a unique and delicious concoction developed by a bartender at the Hotel Metropole (now the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi) in the late 1940s, when milk was in short supply. To make a cappuccino substitute, he whipped egg yolks into a froth to top the coffee. This technique is more time-consuming than steaming milk, but the result is decadent. In a class I took on making egg coffee, I learned that one must beat the egg yolks for a good four or five minutes before they reach the proper texture. They’re then sweetened — we used both honey and coconut cream — and made safe for consumption with a dash of rum. When in Hanoi, I highly recommend trying an egg coffee, either at breakfast at your hotel or in a local café (your concierge can recommend one nearby).