Vietnam Coffee Overview

Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee globally ...but 97% of that is Robusta.

Vietnam coffee is a huge coffee producer on a global scale, second only to Brazil. But unlike Brazil, Vietnam is dominated by Robusta coffee production, with an estimated 3% arabica.  Most arabica coffee production comes from a smaller sub-region of the Central Province, where 80% of the nations coffee is planted. This area is  the Lam Dong province, located in the northern part.  The terrain here is largely what is locally called ‘Bazan Red land’ (red basalt soil) and offers the perfect conditions for growing coffee. This rich volcanic mountain soil, coupled with the highland elevations contributes to slow, even development of the coffee cherry and, ultimately, to a better cup of coffee.

We don’t have first hand experience sourcing arabica coffee from Vietnam, and have only offered it once in our history. We hope to change that as quality improves!

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by the French and slowly grew as a main producer of coffee in Asia. However, this wasn’t always so as coffee proved more difficult to grow than other crops such as lowland rice and did not rank among top exports. In the 1920s, the French decided to open colonisation zones up in the highlands, mainly in Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands. The height of coffee production occurred in the early 20th century as small-scale production shifted towards plantations. 

The Vietnam War disrupted production of coffee in the Buôn Ma Thuột region, the plateau on which the industry was centered. Although seldom involved in conflict, the area was a crossroads between North and South and was largely depopulated. After the North Vietnamese victory, the industry, like most agriculture, was collectivized, limiting private enterprise and resulting in low production. Following Đổi mới reforms in 1986, privately owned enterprise was once again permitted, resulting in a surge of growth in the industry.

Cooperation between growers, producers and government resulted in branding finished coffees and exporting products for retail. However, by the late 1970s, economic and social reforms led to labour shortages in the Central Highlands thus creating opportunities for migration into these less populated regions, compared to overpopulated and poverty experienced in the lowland areas. It is likely that between four and five million people migrated to the Central Highlands after 1975.

The growing regions of the Buôn Mê Thuột have been classified into micro-climates. In these different regions, several varieties of coffee are grown, including Arabica, Robusta, Chari (Excelsa), with Arabica varieties including Catimor. 

Arabica in Vietnam

Vietnam is the second largest producer in the world after Brazil, with Robusta coffee accounting to 97 percent of Vietnam’s total output. However, coffee farmers in Vietnam have always experienced cycles of boom and bust since the 1980s, making the industry a highly volatile one. Despite the fluctuating global coffee prices, importing countries continue paying a steady price while coffee farmers from exporting countries experience the daily price range.

Coffee production in Vietnam is concentrated in the Central Highlands (80%), and the small portion of Arabica grown in the country hails almost entirely from the Lam Dong province, located in the north of the Province. The terrain here is largely what is locally called ‘Bazan Red land’ (red basalt soil) and offers the perfect conditions for growing coffee. This rich volcanic mountain soil, coupled with the highland elevations contributes to slow, even development of the coffee cherry and, ultimately, to a sweeter, better cup of coffee.

 

Vietnam Coffee Map Sweet Marias
Vietnam coffee farming regions Sonla, Vinh, Thanh Hoa, Hue, Lam dong, Dak Lak

We rarely offer this origin, but click to see if we have Vietnamese Coffees

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Vietnamese coffee preparation (of the beverage!)

Typically the coffee is prepared in single servings in single-cup filter/brewers known as phin. Generally the coffee is served table-side while it is still brewing. The use of sweetened condensed milk rather than fresh milk was first due to its availability and easier storage in a tropical climate. The condensed milk serves to sweeten the coffee as well. Long practice has led to this being the taste preference in the Vietnamese community. The coffee may be brewed into ice for cà phê đá, or when had with condensed milk for cà phê sữa đá.

Vietnam Coffee Photo Gallery

Since we have not made a coffee trip to Vietnam these images credited to our supplier Mercanta Coffee

We rarely offer this origin, but click to see if we have Vietnamese Coffees