Beginnings of coffee in Vietnam: French colonialism
Coffee, to me, simply means that dark bittersweet liquid that perks you up in the morning. As I discover more about coffee, I realized that there are numerous different types of coffee, each with their own distinct character. Vietnamese coffee stands in a league on its own, with its unique identity. The story of Vietnamese coffee is a complex yet interesting one. When and how did this story started?
It all began when the French stepped on Vietnam’s shore in the 1850s. They infused Vietnam with their influences and one significant cultural export was coffee. French landowners and missionaries began to establish plantations and grow the coffee plant. French dignitaries introduced the café society to Vietnam whereby people would sit along sidewalk tables which were covered by umbrellas. The French also constructed grandiose buildings such as hotels, villas and boutiques where coffee became a mainstay. In time, The French envisioned Vietnam as their playground, even terming it “Paris of the Orient” as the French tried to shape Vietnam in its own image, a modern metropolis.
However, under French rule, a unique Vietnamese identity began to be created. This can be seen through how the coffee story evolved in Vietnam whereby locals tried to adapt coffee to their preferences. For example, French coffee is usually served hot and black, with the addition of steamed milk. However, Vietnamese coffee is often enjoyed cold and sweetened with condensed milk, a unique local innovation indeed!
The story of Vietnamese coffee speaks of innovation and change, resulting in a unique culture that Vietnam calls its own. Such a distinct identity has allowed Vietnam to overcome every odd and challenge that came in its way. Just like the story of Vietnamese coffee, La Saigon promises a special experience to every patron, which sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd.
La Saigon’s story, like the story of Vietnamese coffee will certainly continue to change and evolve with the passing of time…