Highlands Coffee shops are the Vietnams answer to Starbucks but better! Founded by David Thai, a Viet Khieu (Overseas Vietnamese) in Seattle who had the idea to start a coffee house in his native country as coffee in Vietnam is inexpensive. In 1998 he founded Viet Thai International, the company behind Highlands Coffee houses, which can be found in HCMC, Hanoi, Haiphong, Vungtau, Danang and Bien Hoa.
Vietnamese coffee culture
Introduced by French in the 1870s, Vietnam has become the second largest coffee exporting country after Brazil, producing between 800,000 and 1 million tons per year. Vietnam consumes only about 10 percent of its production. The remainder is purchased by some of the world’s best known instant coffee brands.
A large majority of local production is done by small households with two to five hectares plantations. State owned companies produce around 15 percent on larger farms. Coffee production is centered around Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak province, the Central Highlands.
Robusta is the main crop in Vietnam, due to the suitability of geography, climate and elevation. The government supplements Robusta production with the farming of Arabica. While producing lower quantities, Arabica earns approximately twice as much as the same weight of Robusta.
With over 150 years of coffee heritage, Vietnamese coffee drinkers has made coffee an important part of their social culture. Coffee is brewed through a phin (drop filter) and mixed with plenty of sugar which is usually poured over a glass of crushed ice, or drank hot, and/or mixed with condensed milk. Green tea is often consumed at the same time and some people even mix tea with the coffee. Stronger smaller portions are usually consumed in the highlands and northern parts of the country, while in the south, larger and less concentrated portions is the norm.