Smell the coffee!
Concentrating on the Robusta helps Vietnam competitiveness as it contains double the amount of caffeine than the world’s other favourite bean, Arabica, and is also less expensive.
There are to be 122 million bags coffee (each bag weighs 60 kg) produced around the world for the harvest season 2007-2008 of which Vietnam will account for about 16 per cent, most of which will be harvested by hand.
In Vietnamese coffee is simply ‘ca phe’, one of the many Vietnamese words taken directly from French.
Coffee is, of course, a stimulant, in fact the Turkish word for coffee is Kahveh, which comes from the Arabian word for stimulating – Qahwa.
One legend claims coffee was first noticed by a goat farmer in Ethiopia who noticed his goats perked up after eating a certain bean from a tree that grew by his farm!
Now the bitter bean is a staple drink all across the world. In terms of coffee drinkers the US, France and Germany are three leading consumers accounting for 65 per cent of the global market.
While each country shares a taste for coffee, not traditionally drinking styles would have differed. Traditionally Americans were fond of using a percolator, while French used a filter, but in recent years espresso-based drinks have grown in popularity plus with the rise of Starbucks the coffee-houses has become increasingly homogenized.
In Vietnam, drinking coffee with a filter is the traditional norm to make a ca phe den (black coffee) or ca phe sua (coffee with condensed milk). But with the opening of coffee houses such as Gloria Jeans and Highlands Coffee throughout Vietnam as well as the increase in European-style dining amongst urban Vietnamese, espresso based drinks have also grown in popularity.
But no matter how you take your morning coffee the festival definitely would have taught you some interesting facts on the history and the culture of coffee.
For example did you know that in 1923 one leading scientist claimed that caffeine improved sexual activity? Or that Jahann Sebastian Bach composed a sonata all about coffee in 1732?
Other famous coffee drinkers included King Louis XV who spent the equivalent of $15,000 on coffee for his daughter and Napoleon who wrote in his dairy that a cup of coffee is essential when he needs to work overnight.
Or did you know that cowboys in the US used to dip a clean sock filled with coffee in boiling water when brewing up a hot cup?
There are also a few idiosyncratic drinking styles around as well — Mexicans drink coffee with lemon while Moroccans add pepper, though considering Vietnam also produces and consumes its fair share of ca phe cut chon, which is coffee that has been eaten and excreted out where the sun doesn’t shine by Weasels, we’re not one to talk!