Cruising through the Highlands of Vietnam on the back of a motorbike is rather thrilling to me, especially since it’s coffee harvest time. I opted for the Easy Rider Tour to take it all in and get easily on and off the bike whenever we wanted to stop to “watch and learn” about local agriculture.
Arabica and Robusta coffee is the name of the game and it appears that every household is in on it. Especially since Vietnam is now a top exporter of robusta beans it has become a profitable harvest for the farmers.
The area also produces one of the best tasting green, black and white peppercorns, an important element to Vietnamese cuisine.
The tarps are out again, either on the side of the road or anywhere else the sun shines to dry the picked cherry like coffee beans. They are then delivered to their central processing and roasting plant.
Having coffee with your friends every single day is a ritual here. The little shops are all packed with men and women drinking, chatting, laughing and enjoying each others’ company over a great cup of coffee which is served with hot Vietnamese tea.
This reminds me of growing up in Vienna, the Kaffee Haus capital of Europe, where coffee still gets served with such great elegance and purpose. In these old ancient coffee places your Kaffee would be served in a beautiful cup on a small silver tray with a glass of water that had a small spoon balancing on top of the glass. It meant that you could stay all day if you liked and you would always be welcome, even if you consumed only one cup of espresso. My easy driver was completely perplexed when I tried to explain to him that drinking coffee in our western world is mostly done on the run. Preferably in a paper cup while texting and driving.
His words will always linger in my mind, “Madame, if you have time for coffee, you have time to talk.”