Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Vietnamese Coffee Ritual


I've been teaching my academic English classes in the higher levels how to write and talk about a process - it's one of the skills they need to score high on the IELTS exam entry for Australia. One of the topics is: Talk about how to prepare a cup of coffee - now that sounds easier than it actually is in Vietnam as making a Ca Phe Da (iced black coffee - the caffeine currency of choice in VN) truly is a process worthy of mentioning.

Traditionally the Vietnamese coffee ritual is a six step procedure.

Step One:
Choose your blend. Just like in most Western countries, choosing your blend truly is a class battle. Bourgeois coffee shops usually opt for the more expensive "Trung Nguyen" brand of coffee with its superior aroma and smoother taste, whilst prols and street vendors usually go for any wholesale (think Macro-sized bags) brand which is not as refined in flavour and usually much stronger.

Step Two:
Boil the water. Whilst this step is reaching a climax, it is customary to offer the client a glass of Tra Da (Iced tea).

Step Three:
Mount the coffee filter with the correctly measured amount of ground coffee on a tumbler, pour the boiled water over the coffee, put the lid on, serve it to the customer together with a pot of sugar, a tall glass of ice and a long spoon.

Step Four:
Wait for the coffee to drip (it takes about five to ten minutes), savour the unique coffee shop atmosphere and watch the interaction of other customers, listen to the inevitable drumming of rain on the sink roofs or just inhale the aroma of well-brewed coffee.

Step Four

Step Five: When your coffee has finished dripping, remove the filter, stir in the preferred amount of sugar and pour into the tall, ice-filled glass and rigorously mix the liquid refreshment.

Step Six: Enjoy.

Now if you described the process like that you would score a nine or ten out of ten in my class depending on the correct use of body language and hand gestures :)

4 comments:

Emmie said...

eerstens...cool die nuwe look wat jou blog het. ek like die groen...groen is goed, baie goed. en die "hart in wynland kop in verkeer"-styles laat jou heel diepdenkend en serious voorkom :-)
en nou moet ek seker sê tweedens...of derdens...wetie...maar wou net sê was interessant om te lees van die koffie-mission. niks soos 'n goeie koppie good stuff nie.

henno said...

Hey thanks ja, jy weet mos wat sê hulle - 'n change is as good as an holiday - en groen is my gunstelling kleur so dit pas goed by my - ek weet net nie of die "serious" voorkoms so goed pas nie... :)

loesil said...

Hi daar...dinge lyk goed hier op jou virtuele ruimte!

Wat gaan nog alles aan in die nat Vietnam? Nodeloos om te sê treur ek nog oor gisteraand se slagting in Sjanghai!

mullet said...

new look, new feel, same old crap? Hehe. Well, a complete overhaul of your page, looks good, took me a minute to realise that it was actually your page. I must say that you made cold coffee sound very appealing, now if only it wasn't so damn cold and miserable here that I could actually drink something ice cold...(beer being the only and obvious exception)