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Coffee production has been a major source of income for Vietnam since the early 20th century. First introduced by the French in 1857, the Vietnamese coffee industry developed through the plantation system, becoming a major economic force in the country. After an interruption during and immediately following the Vietnam War, production rose once again after Đổi mới economic reforms, reaching 900,000 tons per year in 2000. In 2012, Reuters reported Vietnamese coffee exports at 1.25 million tonnes for the previous year. Coffee was second only to rice in value of agricultural products exported from Vietnam.

History

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by the French and slowly grew as producer of coffee in Asia. The height of coffee production occurred in the early 20th century as small scale production shifted towards plantations. The first instant coffee plant, Coronel Coffee Plant, was established in Biên Hòa, Đồng Nai Province in 1969, with a production capacity of 80 tons per year.

Style

Vietnamese (Buôn Ma Thuột region) style coffee has characteristics that distinguish it from other coffees and brewing methods. The growing regions of the Buôn Ma Thuột have been classified into micro-climates by European scientists contracted by private industry. In these different regions, several varieties of coffee are grown, including Arabica, Robusta, Chari (Excelsa), Catimor, and some indigenous varieties of Arabica such as the Arabica SE. Vietnamese coffee producers blend multiple varieties of beans for different flavor characteristics and balance.

220px-VN drip coffee on table

Vietnamese coffee brewing in single-cup filters, with a cup of iced coffee at right.

Typically the coffee is prepared in single servings in single-cup filter/brewers known as phin (which cames from French word "filtre" - filter). Generally the coffee is served tableside 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.

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