What is so special about Vietnamese coffee?
Although Vietnam is now the largest robusta coffee-growing nation in the world, its product has had a reputation for being less-than-premium. That reputation is changing rapidly, as the growers and government are making major efforts to improve quality and purity. While much of the crop is still destined for bulk instant coffee production, there are small farmers that are growing excellent
robusta and arabica beans, and take great pride in their production. We only deal with these small farmers and their top-quality product. The Vietnamese also have a unique roasting process. While most modern roasting happens at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, Vietnamese roasting is done at lower temperature, in fact, traditionally over an open fire. The longer roasting time at lower temperatures allows the flavor to develop throughout the bean, while avoiding the bitterness caused by charring the exterior of the bean. The result is a full, rich flavor without the bitterness, or charred taste, of modern dark roast coffee.
Weasel Coffee - fact or myth?
Somehow, it was discovered that certain weasels (or civets, or 'luwak', depending on the country), dine nightly on the best, ripest coffee cherries. At some point in time, some brave person decided to try and make coffee from the partially-digested beans that had passed through the weasel. The result was the amazing transformed coffee that we know as "Kopi Luwak, or "Weasel", with its distinctive rich aroma and smooth, mocha flavor and texture.
The streets of every major Southeast-Asian city are crammed with small coffee-houses and shops that cater to locals and tourists alike. In Hanoi, for example, you cannot walk down a street in Hoan Kiem without having to scoot around a stack of plastic jars labeled "Weasel 1, Weasel 2", and so on, the numbers designating the quality of the coffee contained therein. Observation tells us that there are not enough Weasels in Asia to produce the amount of coffee that is labeled Weasel, just in Hanoi alone! Often quoted is the number 700 Kg, or about 1,500 pounds of Weasel coffee produced every year. That would make the retail price of authentic pure Weasel coffee around $300 per pound!
So, the reality is that authentic Weasel coffee does in fact exist. It is safe and thoroughly clean, probably cleaner than regular coffee, and it does taste wonderful if you like smooth, mellow, rather sweet coffee that is more like mocha than "cafe Americano". And, as a tourist attraction and something to do on your "bucket list", it has its place. But are you going to drink $300/lb. coffee on a regular basis? Hardly.
We picked the Weasel to represent Weasel brand Premium Vietnamese coffees, because he (or she?) represents the best coffee that Vietnam has to offer. Our coffees are blends of the finest, small-plantation, small batch, roasted coffee cherries, selected by the farmers and the Weasels. Our two top prepackaged coffees do contain a small amount of authentic, Weasel coffee. It's what gives them their earthy, smoky, mocha-like flavor and texture. For everyday drinking, it's Daily Delight, which is a perfectly-balanced blend of Robusta and Arabica, strong on flavor, higher in caffeine, but with less indigestion afterwards!
Occasionally, we also carry small amounts of 100% authentic weasel coffee that we are able to buy directly from the farmers. Sourcing at the plantation ensures authenticity.
On my first visit to Vietnam, I discovered a surprisingly sophisticated coffee culture, where coffee is really a ceremony. I found this intriguing and felt it would be interesting for North America as well. I formed a partnership with a young Hanoian entrepreneur, and we imported our first batch of Weasel brand coffee. The flavor and quality of our initial three varieties has been well-received by the American and European public. We hope that you will try and enjoy our unique coffees!