The Vietnamese Coffee Made With Egg Yolks And Sweetened Condensed Milk

It seems like every culture has its own way of doing coffee. Whether it's the specific way it's made or served, exactly how and when it's consumed, or what ingredients are added to it, you'll find that coffee is a bit of a shape-shifter depending on where you are in the world.

In Arabic culture, the ceremonial method of brewing and serving coffee (or "qahwa") is recognized by UNESCO as an expression of hospitality. In Scandinavia, they drink "kaffeost", which is made by adding a type of cheese known as "bread cheese" too hot coffee. Australia invented its flagship "magic coffee", a type of flat white named for its "magic" ratio of coffee to milk. And we all know Irish coffee, that double-warming rendition that comes with a dose of whiskey.

Whether it's ghee, aromatic spices, or even olive oil, there's so much more than cream and sugar that can be added to coffee to create something special, and often it brings a cultural significance along with it. One of the more surprising coffee concoctions? Vietnam's "cà phê trứng", or egg coffee.

How to make Vietnamese egg coffee

If you've ever ordered a Vietnamese coffee, you know to expect a creamy, smooth, sweet cup of java. That's because Vietnam is known for adding things like condensed milk, coconut cream, and even yogurt to their coffee with classic drinks like bạc xỉu. But cà phê trứng is a more unique execution; while it includes the typical addition of sweetened condensed milk to smooth out its bold flavors, it also involves an unexpected egg yolk.

It's fairly simple to make Vietnamese egg coffee. First, you'll brew your coffee. Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is made using a type of single-serving coffee press called a phin filter, which produces an espresso-like result. You can use a pour-over or make espresso — but stick to dark roasted coffee beans, because the bolder the better for a recipe like this.

Then it's just a matter of whipping egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk together. You can do this with a hand mixer, or simply whip by hand until smooth. The end result should be a light, frothy texture with soft peaks. Top off your coffee with the egg mixture and let it meld together into a rich, creamy cup of coffee that some refer to as "liquid tiramisu". This will be a treat on its own, but you can also incorporate cocoa powder, cinnamon, or vanilla to level up the flavors.

How did coffee and egg come to meet?

A recipe like this begs the question: who thought to combine eggs with coffee? And why? How did this sweet, comforting beverage that now graces cafe menus all over Vietnam come to be? The answer comes down to a bartender in Hanoi named Nguyen Giang and a milk shortage.

According to Nguyen Coffee Supply, basic goods like milk were scarce while Giang was working as a bartender at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in 1946, due to the Anti-French Resistance war in Vietnam. So he took it upon himself to concoct a new way to create the nation's beloved creamy coffee, realizing that whipped, foamy egg yolks produced the perfect substitute when mixed with sweetened condensed milk.

Conceived out of necessity, Giang's egg coffee proved to be a delicious, flavorful creation that caught on like wildfire throughout Hanoi. It worked so well because the richness of the emulsified egg yolk paired beautifully with Vietnam's native robusta coffee beans — and an added bonus, that egg yolk goes a long way in bulking up the cup of coffee's nutritional benefits. Giang went on to open Café Giang, a Hanoi favorite that still serves up the famous Vietnamese egg coffee today (with some secret ingredients, of course), per Nguyen Coffee Supply. Whether you try a cup in Vietnam or make your own version at home, don't sleep on this delightful coffee concoction.