Cre­at­ing a caf­feinated kalei­do­scope


FA­THER-of-two Brian Hockenhull gave up a ca­reer in ac­count­ing and IT to share his pas­sion for great, af­ford­able cof­fee. He shares with us his top cof­fee of the month: Trung Nguyen Sang Tao #1 DEEP in the Cen­tral High­lands of Viet­nam, Dak Lak Prov­ince is the gate­way to a mys­te­ri­ous, cap­ti­vat­ing area, com­plete with wa­ter­falls, wild ele­phants and lo­cal tribes.

Trung Nguyen, which is based there, is Viet­nam’s most suc­cess­ful cof­fee company.

It in­tro­duced mod­ern cof­fee fran­chises to the coun­try in the late 1990s, with an as­tound­ing 1,000 cafes open across south east Asia to­day and plans to in­tro­duce a fur­ther 1,000 into Europe over the next few years.

Trung Nguyen is an in­ter­na­tional company with a clear mis­sion – to cou­ple sus­tain­able cof­fee pro­duc­tion with cre­ative new prod­ucts and flavours.

Trav­ellers re­turn­ing from the re­gion of­ten re­mem­ber their Trung Nguyen cafe ex­pe­ri­ence and long to recre­ate it.

Broadly speak­ing, there are two types of cof­fee – Ara­bica, which can only be cul­ti­vated in the trop­ics and is highly re­garded, with more than 60 per cent of cof­fee cul­ti­vated world­wide be­ing this type, and ro­busta, which can be cul­ti­vated fur­ther afield and is gen­er­ally seen as lower qual­ity.

Ro­busta cof­fees tend to be bit­ter and have less flavour than ara­bica cof­fees, how­ever there are some very high qual­ity ro­busta beans around, some used in tra­di­tional Ital­ian espresso, and Viet­nam has its own unique heir­loom ro­busta cof­fees.

Sang Tao (Cre­ation) #1 is one of th­ese – the Viet­namese pi­o­neered and per­fected the ro­busta va­ri­ety more than 100 years ago.

This cof­fee is raised in a per­fect cli­mate, picked in mul­ti­ple ses­sions, and sun-dried for up to 100 days to achieve the full ripeness and won­der­ful tones that can­not be du­pli­cated any­where else.

Be­cause of the limited ac­cess to fresh milk, the French in Viet­nam, who loved their café au lait, used sweet­ened con­densed milk to lighten up their steam­ing mugs.

Sang Tao #1 fills the room with the aroma of su­pe­rior cof­fee and a dis­tinct toasti­ness from the roast adds deep choco­late notes to the elixir, which orig­i­nates from the long ripen­ing process.

It’s hard to brew this cof­fee too strong, as it has few faults, but it does have about 40pc more caf­feine than ara­bica cof­fees.

It’s dark, strong, full-bod­ied smokey and bit­ter­sweet, and can stand up to plenty of milk and sugar. The base cof­fee can be brewed as a fil­ter cof­fee or even a sim­ple press pot with con­densed milk added to your taste.

For dra­matic ef­fect, serve it in a clear glass mug – the re­sult­ing caf­feinated kalei­do­scope can be as hyp­notic as it is de­li­cious, great for some­thing dif­fer­ent after din­ner.

Viet­namese cof­fee is also an ex­cel­lent choice for iced cof­fee.

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Brian Hockenhull roast­ing cof­fee beans at his cof­fee shop

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