Better Brew: 1st Vietnamese coffee roaster in Philadelphia

Imagine a cup of coffee that is rich, powerful and delicious. And so local it's got us Philly Proud?

We've got it, thanks to Thu Pham.

The Drexel grad is just 26, but she's just opened the first Vietnamese coffee roaster in Philadelphia, Caphe Roasters in North Philadelphia.

Maybe you've heard of Vietnamese coffee, even seen it on a menu, but considered it too different or complex to try at home. But it's so easy for you to make.

And here's why you should try.

First, the coffee itself is a taste profile dream, made with robusto beans instead of what's in most coffees you know, Arabica beans.

"They're a lot more nutty," said Pham of robusto beans. "They're a lot darker, they almost have a velvety taste to them. And a couple notes of dark chocolate."

The dark, almost malty, coffee is cut with condensed milk, which turns it into the sweetest treat.

"We kind of say it's like a tiramisu latte in a cup," said Pham.

In her light, airy space, Pham turns out small batches of coffee from a roast specifically for Vietnamese coffee to other lighter roasts more similar to what you may be used to in coffees.

The beans are sourced from all over Asia and roasted on a roaster Pham lovingly calls a lot of names, like Big Baby.

Caphe Roasters is doing lots of pop ups to expose people to the coffee; packages comes with little index cards showing you how to make a traditional Vietnamese coffee; and she intends to have it as well in a number of local markets soon. (Check the roastery's social pages to get the latest on where to find the coffee)

You can find the special percolator you need at most Asian markets, like the ones on Washington Avenue.

And once you get home, here's what you do: Pour a little condensed milk in glass, pop the special percolator over it and scoop in four tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee. Swirl a little hot water in from a kettle and wait a minute. Then fill the percolator with the hot water. About five minutes later, stir and enjoy.

You can have it hot, or the traditional way, over ice. Either way, it's a sweet delight.

And just one Vietnamese coffee has a jolt that puts espresso to shame, since one Vietnamese coffee is equal to THREE espressos!

"Instead of getting three espresso shots, which are made with Arabica beans, they can consider just using and drinking Vietnamese coffee and get that kick in the morning," said Pham.
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