Coffee in Vietnam: what you should know about its production Vietnam is famous for its coffee production. The Vietnam is one of the largest coffee sellers in the world. In Vietnam, Robusta coffee beans are mainly grown in most regions. In some areas, Arabica coffee beans are also grown. In this article, we will talk about the process of making coffee beans in Vietnam.
As the Robusta coffee beans are cheaper than the Arabica ones, this is the reason why farmers in Vietnam prefer it. Now let's talk about the stages of coffee making in Vietnam. This article was inspired by Vietnamese coffee guide by Guillaume Rondan on coffee production and export from Vietnam to France.
Even though Vietnam was known until now for its Robusta cultivation and production, you will find (if you look hard enough) some mountains that focus on the Arabica bean, which is considered by some to be one of the most gouty in the country. If you can make it to Vietnam, go and meet producers in the Dalat area or ask for samples from exporters to taste for yourself.
Planting and cultivation
Coffee plants are unique and have some similarities to tea plants. Like tea plants, coffee plants also need a sloping plain to grow. If rainwater has accumulated in the area, then the coffee plants cannot grow and die. Coffee trees can grow up to 6 feet tall, but they usually grow at about 2 to 3 feet. Before planting the seeds, the soil should be tilled three to four times. After planting, some farmers use a different type of fertilization to make the plant grow faster. After planting, the soil must remain moist, and it also needs high humidity to grow properly. As the plant grows, new coffee cherries appear on the plant. These cherries contain coffee beans.
Processing of coffee beans
After planting, cultivation and harvesting, the coffee cherries go through the final process to extract the coffee beans. There are two processes to obtain coffee beans from coffee cherries: the dry process and the wet process.
The dry method
In this method, the coffee cherries are first placed in a large sieve where they are safe from stones, dirt or any other unwanted objects that winnowing can make. Winnowing is an agricultural method of distinguishing the beans from the chaff. Then they are placed on large mats or concrete pads to dry in the sun. It can take a month for the coffee cherries to dry properly, and it is essential to rotate them more often to ensure that they dry properly. In more massive plantations, machine drying is commonly applied to speed up the process.
If the cherries are over-dried, the coffee will become brittle. If the cherries are not dried properly, they will be too wet and exposed to rapid deterioration caused by fungal and bacterial attack. Once the drying process is complete, the outer shells are removed from each cherry. After removing the shell, two green coffee beans emerge from each cherry. Hulling machines are more common, but many other coffee houses in Vietnam perform this process by hand before sending the coffee beans to market.
The wet method
This method distinguishes the coffee beans from the pulp of the cherry through a process of washing and soaking directly after harvest. The cherries are then passed through a pulping machine, which wrings out the bean and the outer layer of pulp, finally separating the two. After this step, the coffee beans are stored in large containers where they ferment for up to two days. The fermentation process had to be carefully monitored to prevent the coffee from acquiring unwanted sour flavors. During the fermentation process, the enzymes in the pulp break down the remaining pieces of pulp on each bean.
For most coffees, the removal of mucilage by fermentation takes between 8 and 36 hours. It depends on the temperature, the thickness of the mucilage layer and the concentration of enzymes. Once fermentation is complete, the coffee beans are washed with clean water in tanks. Once the last layers of flesh are removed, the beans are taken to a large patio of a raised table where they dry.
Coffee storage and preservation in Vietnam
After removing the coffee beans, the workers begin to pick the crushed beans, considered to be of poor quality. They separate them from the best quality beans. Then they take all the good quality beans home or to the place where they store them. Storage is essential because if the seeds are not stored in a perfect place, the quality of the beans can deteriorate.
Exporting to Europe or the United States
After storing all the coffee beans, the process of exporting coffee is not so simple. The export of standard coffee beans is based on a lot of factors issued by the government, the first thing they do is a sampling of coffee beans. A coffee bean sampling done according to TCVN 5702-1993. In 2018, Vietnam still exported more than 3.5 Billion in value of coffee which makes it number two in the world.
Once the sampling is complete, they analyze the coffee beans. In the analysis, the coffee beans are classified in division 1,2,3. The coffee beans in division 1 are the best in terms of quality. After this examination, the coffee beans are sent for packing. After packing, all the bags are collected in a closed warehouse. From this place where it is stored, the bags of coffee beans are then sent to airports, ports and railway stations for transportation to different countries.
Conclusion, how to import Vietnamese coffee?
As mentioned earlier, Vietnam is one of the largest coffee exporters in the world. Many people in Vietnam make a living from the coffee industry. And if you have ever traveled to Vietnam, you know that for Vietnamese people, coffee is one of the essential things to start the day. The process of making coffee in Vietnam is very similar to other parts of the world. The weather in Vietnam is mostly dry, that's why they choose as extraction method mainly the dry method to get the coffee beans out of the cherries.
Also, in Vietnam, mainly Robusta coffee beans are produced, and Robusta does not need to be washed to distinguish the beans from the cherry. The dry method can also be used by hand, making it cheaper than the wet method. Storage and export are also essential, as Vietnam does not have this modern infrastructure. They have to rely on their workers to hand-pick the high quality coffee beans.
Previously a tester of household appliances, I discovered a passion for coffee and the Barista world 6 years ago. I now spend my spare time sharing my experiences with my community. I hope you will find some nuggets on my blog 😃