Vietnamese coffee is strong, and it’s got a bite, like Mike Tyson’s bite in his bout with Evander Holyfield strong. I order my Ca Phe black with ice (Den Da). When Ca Phe Den Da is served, the glass is only filled about 50% of the way (including the ice); it’s so strong that a caffeine addicted pessimist would call this glass half-full.
This stuff is thick, borderline sludgy. There’s lot of sugar, there’s one or two chunks of ice hacked off the large iceberg in the kitchen, and it’s crowned with a healthy dollop of crema. A lengthy stirring spoon is customarily served inside the drink upon delivery.
I feel my pupils dilating. After a couple more sips, a rush fueled equally by caffeine and sucrose overcomes the blood in my veins. This will last for 30 minutes or less before I need to chase the proverbial dragon once again.
It’s a good thing that Ca Phe is everywhere in Ha Noi and the local people take the quality of their coffee seriously. Almost all of the tree-shaded streets in the Old Quarter are home to a handful of local cafés, mirroring a bit of a Parisian lifestyle in the cultural heart of Vietnam. This is a good place to wake up in.
Photo: Ca Phe Den Da (Old Quarter, Ha Noi, Vietnam)