Vietnamese Coffee: A Brief History
Legend has it that travelers through 15th century Ethiopia chewed on raw coffee cherries when they noticed how full of vitality birds and camels were when they chewed on the beans. Regardless of the true first taste of coffee, we know that it derives from Africa and has been widely consumed ever since.
In Vietnam, coffee did not have much popularity at first. Introduced by French colonizers in the mid-1800s, coffee was initially hard to grow on small farms and did not catch on in taste. However, with decades passing and the opening of the Central Highlands of the country in the early 1900s, coffee found its foundation and has been a staple of the region and country at large since. Bien Hoa, Lam Dong, and Dong Nai Provinces in the highlands produce roughly 80% of all the coffee grown in Vietnam.
With the new growth territory came new production methods. Producers started growing coffee on large-scale farms and plantations, resulting in better and higher yields and increased circulation of the beans domestically and abroad. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, coffee production stifled due to ongoing domestic and international wars and conflicts across the country. Coffee production, much like most private enterprises, was limited during this time as new government powers sought to collectivize all industries.
Things took a drastic shift in 1986 with the introduction of the Doi Moi reforms, which sought to make the Vietnamese economy a socialist-oriented free market. As such, private enterprise was allowed once again and industries started to boom in general. The coffee industry immediately cemented its newfound resurgence with the introduction of various national brands and companies, resulting in Vietnam becoming the second largest producer of coffee in the world in 1999 (supplanting Colombia).
Since then, the Central Highlands have become the hub for all things coffee in Vietnam with millions of people moving to the area for opportunities and development. Today, the booming industry produces millions of tons of beans per year and boasts billions of dollars in generated revenue. Farmers no longer produce mono-culture beans and have been experimenting with high-quality, organic varietals that have resulted in a diversified (and delicious) coffee culture. As part of that very coffee culture, we at Nguyen Coffee Supply are proud to be among the first to import organic, single origin green beans straight from the farm in Vietnam to New York City. When you taste our coffee, know that you’re not just tasting regular coffee, you’re tasting centuries of history that have culminated in the perfect cup of joe.
Sources: International Coffee Organization, 2019
Shop our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit here.
Learn how to brew phin coffee here.
Read about the rise of Vietnamese coffee here.