Some might think combining eggs and coffee entirely is strange because of the smell of raw eggs. In reality, egg coffee has a creamy and sweet flavor of the egg yolk and milk, supplemented by the bitter aftertaste of strong coffee. And because of that, egg coffee reminds people of a liquid tiramisu. Though the drink is a specialty in Hanoi, there are plenty of other places to drink egg coffee in Saigon if you cannot travel to Northern Vietnam yet.
The Origin of Egg Coffee
Egg coffee was invented in the mid-1940s by Nguyen Van Giang, who was a chef at the Hanoi Metropole Hotel. His son said his father wanted to make the delicious cappuccino drink more popular among the Vietnamese. Still, in the 1940s, fresh milk was too expensive to afford. After many experiments, Mr. Giang successfully developed a flavourful, nutritious beverage called egg coffee. He substituted the top layer with his invention, the whisked egg cream, and made an even better drink but 10 times cheaper.
At that time, egg yolks were whipped by hand, so it took a lot of time, and only hot egg coffee was available. Today, with the availability of the whipping machine, not only is it quicker to make, but having iced egg coffee is also possible. The egg layer is also smoother and fluffier, making the egg coffee taste more delicious. Nowadays, the iconic egg foam is mixed with cocoa and matcha drinks, expanding the creative list of Vietnamese beverages.
How Egg Coffee is Made
Ingredients to make egg coffee are simple, including egg yolks, sugar, milk, coffee, and other things such as cheese or butter, which vary on the coffee shops’ recipes. Firstly, egg yolks are whipped with milk, sugar, and other dairy products if you wish until the whole combination gets thick, creamy, and glossy. After that, put the fluffy mixture into a small cup. Pour hot coffee over the cup; the hot liquid will go to the bottom, leaving foamy egg layers on top. The cup of coffee will immediately float in an aromatic fragrant of coffee combined with the creamy egg. Finally, sprinkle a dash of coffee powder on top.
The hot cup of egg coffee is usually served in a small bowl of hot water to keep the drink warm and reduce the raw aftertaste of eggs. In Saigon, some coffee shops use a two-layer cup instead. The air between the two layers will act as a deterrent against thermal conductivity and, thus, keep the coffee from getting cold.
Although the recipe seems quite simple, there are a lot of techniques. In order to make a perfect cup of egg coffee and eliminate the unpleasant smell of the eggs, the baristas have mastered skills like egg whisking, egg selection, and roasting coffee.
How to Drink Egg Coffee
Hot egg coffee is a good recommendation for first-timers since the high temperature will reduce the raw egg smell and increase the creaminess of the cotton eggs. For iced egg coffee, you should drink it faster because the ice will dilute the egg foam.
To try it, taste a bit of sweet cream on top of the coffee cup first, then slowly enjoy the lower part of the coffee. After that, you can freely mix two layers and enjoy the exciting sense of sweetness, fatness, and bitterness. Egg coffee is a good choice of drink on a rainy day; sipping egg coffee while listening to the sound of the rain outside would be a memorable experience. The sweet and tasty cocoa or matcha versions are other options if you cannot drink coffee.
What Egg Coffee Tastes Like
Many people have questioned how the taste of eggs can go well with the bitterness of coffee. Egg coffee is not only delicious but also very eye-catching. The egg yolks mixed with coffee create an extremely attractive yellowish-brown color.
The drink is not too sweet; it’s a bit like a latte or cappuccino but creamier. After tasting the strength of coffee but before the bitterness kicks in, the light, soft, and sweet taste of eggs, butter, sugar, and condensed milk will soften the taste.
Where to Drink Egg Coffee in Saigon
Despite its origin in Hanoi, egg coffee has made its way to the south thanks to its delicious flavor. Below are several options if you want to drink egg coffee in Saigon. The taste of coffee is not significantly distinguished, but the design and service will bring you different experiences.
Address: 89B Cach Mang Thang 8, District 1
Opening hours: 7 AM – 11 PM
Price: VND 55,000
Vietphin Coffee is located right in the heart of Saigon – District 1, opposite Tao Dan Park and about 1 kilometer from Ben Thanh Market; therefore, it is easy to make your way here.
Contrary to the chaos of heavy traffic outside, the inner design will please you with the aroma of fresh coffee. It is prominent, with white tones, brown furniture, and yellow light bulbs, which make it cozier, creating a bright space. The designs of the chairs and tables here are suitable for working alone or in a group, meetup, or having a casual talk. The upstairs is quieter and more spacious, which seems like a perfect spot for working and studying, while the ground floor is for having small conversations.
Despite the busy lunchtime, the staff is enthusiastic, quick, and amiable, greeting you with smiling faces. The cafe’s menu varies, offering mainly coffee drinks, but there are other choices, such as tea and yogurt. Light meals like bread with meatballs are also available. However, egg coffee is the signature of the cafe.
The egg layer at Vietphin Coffee is creamy, smooth, and not too sweet. The robusta coffee below is highly bitter, strong, and slightly too much compared to the egg yolk. Therefore, you might need to add some sugar and consider carefully when ordering this drink in the evening because it might cause sleep deprivation.
Luu Gia Café
Address: 8 Hoa Cuc, Phu Nhuan District
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10 PM
Price: 30,000 VND
Luu Gia Café is a small store on the corner of a small street in Phu Nhuan District. This place is well-known as the first coffee shop in Saigon to serve egg coffee.
There are two floors with a classic street-style design with small wooden furniture. This style would make Hanoi customers reminisce about the ancient capital’s old days.
As soon as you settle, the staff will give you a plate of sunflower seeds while waiting for the drinks. A downside of the small store is that it could be too narrow for some people, but it makes the coffee shop look cozy.
The egg coffee at Luu Gia Coffee is claimed to resemble the original flavor of that in Hanoi. The black coffee is Vietnamese coffee brewed in a traditional dripped filter, and the egg is much sweeter and has a pleasant smell. There is no eggy taste because the fluffy egg is heated at a high temperature before being added to the coffee. The taste and smell are very similar to those of a sweet cake. The result is that egg coffee has a thick layer of egg foam and a thin layer of coffee below.
Goc Ha Noi Cafe
Address: 165/3 Bui Vien, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
Opening hours: 9 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 40,000
Right in the heart of Saigon, there’s a coffee shop named Goc Ha Noi, “a corner of Hanoi.” Everything in the cafe, from the design and food to the music and even the people here, will remind you of the capital in the north.
The shop is in a super small alley, next to a small old apartment on Bui Vien Street. Contrary to the bustling street outside, as soon as you enter this place, it will calm you down, leaving all the noise behind.
Goc Ha Noi has three floors; while the ground is the cooking station, the other two are spaces for visitors. The interior has pictures of Hanoi and several quotes commonly seen in wartime. Since the store is very small, only one staff member is also the owner. She can speak English fluently and is willing to share the stories behind egg coffee and Vietnamese culture with you.
The owner, a Hanoian – who might know how to do justice to a cup of egg coffee, shared with us that she got the recipe from her mom, who used to open an egg coffee shop in Hanoi. Therefore, the egg part is made with sugar instead of condensed milk because of the shortage of condensed milk in the past. Consequently, it tastes less sweet in comparison with other recipes. However, you can combine the egg coffee with the complimentary vanilla cookies to make it sweeter and add more texture.
Hoa Dat Cafe
Address: 235A Huynh Tan Phat, Tan Thuan Dong Ward, District 7
Opening hours: 6:30 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 35,000
Crossing Tan Thuan Bridge to what we call “the other side of Saigon”, you’ll find a cafe that offers a taste of quaint Vietnam. Hoa Dat Cafe resembles a beautiful old Vietnamese house from the inside out: northern-styled furniture in a dark brown tone, a small bookshelf, and pictures of old Saigon on the wall, a board of Chinese chess games for the real experts. All harmonize well as customers listen to the calming tunes of southern and central Vietnam folk songs.
While waiting for your egg coffee, you’ll realize why egg coffee is not a drink for those in haste. Ten minutes for an egg coffee cup done right: creamy egg foam with a bliss sweetness, bold coffee underneath, and above all, considerate service from the two owners, who are also Hanoi locals. The female owner, the main barista, told us how carefully she chose free-range eggs for her coffee while the male owner, who speaks fluent English, hastily changed the hot water in our cup, worrying it would cool down and spoil the taste. All in all, it is a worthy place to try egg coffee in Saigon.
Summary of Where to Drink Egg Coffee in Saigon
Egg coffee is the favorite drink of many Vietnamese, especially people from Hanoi. They come not only to drink a cup of coffee but also to drift themselves into nostalgia and memories of the past. If you travel to Vietnam but can’t reach the north, try egg coffee in Saigon at one of these shops. The smell of eggs mixed with the aroma and bitter taste of coffee will be the highlight of your trip.