Egg coffee is one of Hanoi’s must-tries for visitors and has been included in many food tours around the capital city.
Jin, a Swedish tourist, shares with Timeout that she had never tasted this mouth-watering coffee before coming to Hanoi, “It’s rich in both flavour and consistency. To me, it’s like a lovely dessert in a cup.”
A simple recipe
Bartender Hang at Dinh Cafe, a favourite destination for egg coffee lovers, shares that the fundamental ingredients are egg yolk, condensed milk, sugar, and hot coffee.
“Egg yolk, condensed milk, and sugar are put in a small, deep bowl and then whisked vigorously by a machine until they turn into a frothy and fluffy mixture. This process can take 20-30 minutes,” she explains. “A mixture containing five egg yolks can make 8-10 cups of egg coffee.”
During the mixing process, Hang brews filtered coffee in a small drip pot and then carefully pours the hot coffee in the middle of the distributed egg mixture. “When the coffee runs down, the egg mixture rises up, creating a beautiful looking drink with a tempting smell,” Hang adds.
It takes practice to make the perfect cup of egg coffee. “Choosing the eggs is very important. Only the freshest chicken eggs should be used. The type of coffee used is also crucial. If the coffee is not strong enough, its scent will be overwhelmed by that of the egg mixture,” the bartender explains.
According to Hang, another key to making a delicious cup of egg coffee is using the correct proportion of each ingredient. “The exact proportions are our own business secret,” she smiles.
Van Quang, a regular customer at Giang cafe, the true home of Hanoi egg coffee, shares that the flavour depends very much on the way people consume it.
“First you have to use your coffee spoon, stirring the upper layer of the egg mixture and putting it in your mouth little by little to taste its sweetness and richness. After that, you can mix the lower layer of coffee with the egg mixture and continue your enjoyment.”
25-year-old artist Hoang Anh comes to Dinh cafe every winter’s Sunday for his egg coffee fix. “This coffee shop doesn’t sell egg coffee in the summer. I don’t know why-I think it would be nice if I could enjoy my favourite drink throughout the year,” he shares.
The balcony is this artist’s preferred place to sit. “Looking down from here, I can see people rushing by, which makes me treasure the moments when I can calmly sit down and enjoy a nice coffee,” he explains.
American visitor, Anna, shares her impressions of egg coffee, “When I first tasted it, I thought it was a desert because it tastes like a melted pudding. However, when a customer of the cafe showed me how to mix it up, I realized it’s a kind of coffee.”
One obstacle preventing tourists from trying egg coffee is the location of coffee shops serving this drink. In Hanoi, Giang cafe and Dinh cafe are famous for offering the most authentic taste.
However, both of them are located in small alleys in Hanoi’s old quarter, which can be difficult for visitors to find.
Anna shares that she spent hours walking around Dinh Tien Hoang street trying to find Dinh cafe.
“The map said that it’s on this street but it does not detail exactly where the coffee shop is. We asked some local residents, but they couldn’t speak English. Luckily a young girl helped us out,” Anna says. “The alleyway leading to Dinh cafe is really dark and small. The cafe space is not big either.”
Bad sanitation can also be off-putting for tourists. British visitor Mark expresses his feelings about Giang cafe. “I find the cafe filthy, but if other people think it’s fine, I don’t judge them. The restroom smells of stale cigarettes and the floor is covered with the shells of sun-flower seeds. The tables and chairs are also kid-size.”
Mark shares that he is a lover of egg coffee, but believes that to attract more tourists the coffee shops need to be cleaner, more accessible and easier to find.