All About COFFEE

Buon Ma Thout, December 31st 2010

Buon Ma Thout is from where much of the best coffee of Vietnam comes. Our guide, Tin, led us to the place where we could learn everything about coffee.

There's Arabica Coffee.

There's Robusta Coffee.

And, there's also Mocca Coffee... which I forgot to take the picture of.
According to Tin, there's no finished product of one hundred percent Robusta Coffee, or Arabica Coffee, or such. There's always a mixture between the three types (Arabica, Robusta, Mocca) in the final product. When it's called Robusta Coffee, then it means that the ingredient of Robusta Coffee is dominant, and so on. Moreover, the finished product's ingredients are not solely coffee. The mixture of coffee is blended with fish sauce, butter, and rhum.

At first we bragged to Tin that in our country we have another type of coffee. We tried to explain slowly and carefully on mentioning the origin of the coffee we meant. Nevertheless, Tin and Mr. Vu showed the least sign of shock.

"You mean weasel coffee, don't you?" asked Tin.

"Y...ess... You have that also?"

"Yes, we do!" Tin and Mr. Vu replied almost at the same time.

"It comes from the droppings of weasel?" We just wanted to make sure.

"Yes, yes!"

And ... here it is! You can buy a big sag of a weasel's droppings if you like... I wonder what would it taste like if blended with fish sauce, butter, and rhum?

Well, let's forget about the weasel's droppings. Let me tell you about the coffee itself.

First, let me introduce you the flower of a coffee tree.
And now, look at this picture, from left to right. The green beans on the left are the young coffee beans. When they are ripe, they turn red.

When they've turned red, people will put a large plastic mat under the coffee tree. And then they'll rip off the coffee branches with their hand so that the coffee beans will fall to the ground.

Next step, the beans are peeled and will look like the bean third from the left in this picture. The coffee beans will be left on the ground under the sun to dry up. Meanwhile, what do they do with the coffee peels?

Do you remember my story about the making of rice wine? They use coffee peel is used to light the stove for cooking rice wine.

Actually, a coffee bean has 2 layers of skin. The 3rd bean from left on this picture has been peeled from its first layer of skin. Now look closely to the 4th bean  from left on this picture. It has been peeled a bit on the left side. Right next to it on the right side is its peel the second layer skin.
So that bean on the most far right side is the "naked" coffee bean. Once again, the "naked" beans will be dried under the sun until they get "tanned". If you still remember my story a year ago in Dalat, I took a picture of a woman drying coffee beans.

The last step before grinding the beans will be, as mentioned above, stirred in a mixture of fish sauce, butter, and rhum.

Let me show you various kinds of Vietnamese coffee grinders, probably in the old days. I was so fascinated by them. If only I had a bigger house and much, much, much more money, I would have collected these coffee grinders and keep it in a showcase in my living room.

But... for sure, before that even happens, I would have spend the money to travel, and travel... You know me-lah!

These ones are also fascinating. While I took pictures of these coffee grinders, the coffee-shopkeeper kept an eye on me. I could feel the tense air as I turned the grinder and pulled the drawer to make it look better in the picture. Ah... if I were her, I would have done the same... or even worse!

And here comes the Vietnamese authentic coffee strainer. This, the biggest difference between coffee in my country and in Vietnam.

These were my shopping: A box of ground coffee and another box of cappuccino which I didn't  realize until I got home that only contained 12 sachets. Judging from the size of the box, I thought there was plenty. But 12 sachets... that's too little for a coffee lover like me.

I even regretted more for not buying more of this cappuccino when I got to the first sip. Excellent. Perfect. Errr... can you say 'stunning' for a taste? I've never tasted cappuccino like this in my whole experience with coffee since I was a kid. This cappuccino alone is enough a reason for me to return to Vietnam.

If you see a big number written on a coffee packet ranging from 1 to 5, that's the number of the coffee's level. The greater the number, the higher the level, thus the higher the quality.

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