The silky sweet layer of whipped egg and sugar hits your lips first. Then, the bitter dark roast hidden underneath follows. Egg coffee, or cà phê trứng, is a mainstay at coffee shops throughout Vietnam, particularly in the north where it was created. Although it may not sound appetizing at first, the sugary, creamy layer on top of a cup of intense Vietnamese coffee makes for one delightful caffeine hit.
This creamy concoction was invented in 1946 in Hanoi by Nguyen Van Giang. During the French Indochina War there was a milk shortage, so Giang, a hotel bartender at the time, whisked eggs into coffee as a substitute. It became a hit, and Giang opened Café Giang to serve the masses this sugary beverage.
Today, Giang's son, Nguyen Tri Hoa, runs the famous coffee shop and upholds the original recipe dating back nearly 75 years. That recipe is shrouded in secrecy. Hoa will only divulge the ingredients necessary to obtaining the cafés signature rich froth: chicken eggs, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, butter, and cheese.
In Hanoi, Café Giang is the go-to spot to try egg coffee, but scores of other coffee shops around the city’s alleyways make a delicious version, too. Some favorites include Loading T café, Lâm cafe, and The Note Coffee, all located within the historic Old Quarter.
Don't worry if you can’t get to Vietnam anytime soon, though! It's fairly easy to make your own egg coffee at home. All you need is a bold coffee blend, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar.
Brew your coffee and pour it in a short coffee cup (ideally a clear one so you can photograph your layered drink!). In a medium bowl, combine one or two egg yolks with two or three tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and sugar. Exact measurements depend on how sweet you like your coffee. Whip all of the ingredients together until it's thick and custard-like. You'll start to see peaks reminiscent of meringue. Pour the foam onto the coffee, then dump a small spoonful of coffee over the top to finish.
This super sweet and rich drink is often served with a small spoon to scoop up the egg yolk mixture and stir it in the strong coffee. It may not be an every-morning kind of drink, but once in a while, it's a delicious way to treat yourself.