From French Missionaries to Coffee Capital: The Rich History of Vietnamese Coffee

9 February 2024

Vietnamese Coffee Farmers

The Arrival of Arabica Coffee

In 1857, Vietnam took its first sip of coffee culture, as the French brought Arabica coffee into the country's borders. French missionaries introduced this variety, testing it in Catholic churches across northern provinces such as Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, and Ha Tinh. From there, it spread to central provinces like Quang Tri and Quang Binh before eventually finding its way to the southern provinces of the Central Highlands and the Southeast.


It wasn't long before people realized that the Central Highlands, with its unique climate and soil, was the perfect place for cultivating coffee. The love affair with coffee had begun.


The Era of Robusta and Exelsa

Fast forward to 1908, and the French, well-known coffee enthusiasts, added two more coffee varieties to Vietnam's burgeoning coffee scene: Robusta (Coffea canephora) and Exelsa (Coffea exelsa). These new additions brought even more diversity to the country's coffee landscape. The Central Highlands soon emerged as a coffee-growing powerhouse, boasting ideal conditions for coffee cultivation.


Coffee During Wartime and Beyond

Vietnam's history is marked by periods of adversity, including the Vietnam War. Despite the challenges, coffee culture persevered. During the war and until 1986, the coffee-producing areas continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace, with relatively low output. In 1986, the country's coffee industry was still in its infancy, with only around 50,000 hectares dedicated to coffee production and an annual yield of 18,400 tonnes, which equates to just over 300,000 60kg bags.


The Coffee Revolution: Since 1986

The turning point in Vietnam's coffee history arrived in 1986 when the Vietnamese government decided to make coffee a key agricultural industry. The government invested heavily in the coffee sector, promoting both state-owned farms and encouraging individual households to grow coffee. This initiative was a game-changer.


As a result, coffee production in Vietnam experienced a meteoric rise in terms of acreage, output, and export value. The Central Highlands became the largest Robusta production area in the country, renowned not only in Vietnam but around the world. The region has become synonymous with coffee, giving birth to legends like the famed Buon Ma Thuot coffee brand.


Several geographic indications have also emerged, signifying coffee regions celebrated for their quality, sweet aroma, and strong flavour, all of which are influenced by the region's unique soil characteristics. These include Buon Ma Thuot, Da Lat, and Son La.


Today, Vietnam is not only one of the world's leading coffee producers but also a country where coffee culture has thrived, deeply ingrained in the daily lives of its people. The journey from those first Arabica beans in 1857 to the coffee empire of today is a testament to Vietnam's enduring passion for a good cup of joe and its ability to transform itself into a global coffee giant.


Traditional Vietnamese Coffee MUST TRY

100% pure robusta, Buffalo is a bold, powerful yet smooth, clean coffee that effortlessly complements milk. Giving you that double shot of caffeine without breaking the bank.   Not just about exceptional flavour and a strong caffeine punch; Buffalo is also a nod to tradition and the hardworking water buffalo that have worked alongside Vietnamese farmers in the rice fields for centuries. And just like the strong and powerful Buffalo, this coffee will keep you energised to ensure you stay on top of your daily grind.   Indulge in a cup that's strong, bold, and smooth, delivering a full-mouth experience with a delightful hint of chocolate. Straight from farm to your cup through direct trade, it's the perfect blend that respects tradition and taste.
Best seller

Crowd Pleaser - East Meets West

Our signature robusta and arabica blend – a match made in heaven! Honeymoon is recommended as a great starting point for those looking to introduce themselves to Vietnamese coffee with something a little familiar but also a little different.   This exquisite blend brings together the powerful essence of robusta balanced against the smoothness of arabica. It's a marriage of flavours that will sweep you off your feet and keep you coming back for more.   Experience the best of both worlds with Honeymoon – a blend that captures the essence of Vietnam's diverse coffee culture with a modern twist.

The Classic Flavour You'll Love

Sunshine stands out with its exceptional smoothness and low levels of acidity, like a ray of sunshine in your cup, radiating with light and sweet nuances to elevate your coffee rituals to a whole new level.   Not only delighting your taste buds but also embodying a commitment to empowerment and equality, this coffee is produced by the International Women's Coffee Alliance (IWCA) cooperative in the northwestern region of Son La, Vietnam. This group's mission is to amplify women's participation and representation in the coffee sector, improving the quality of life in coffee-producing communities.   Sunshine stands as a shining example of the unique opportunities and support provided to women in the coffee industry.