This little local cafe in Can Tho, which displayed this Victor Hugo citation on the wall, had in my eyes the best ca phe da, I run across in my Viet Nam encounter. This is simple black iced coffee, in my case sweetened, but you can chose it with no sugar as well. This basic coffee is available at every street corner and in this case it came with a nice glas of jasmine tea as well. This time I saw one of the locals pour the tea into the almost empty ice coffee glas and I still wonder if this is how you do it. On some tables there are pots with boiled water as well, which you can use to water your coffee down or make the ice melt a bit faster.
Anyway, once you get your coffee, you need to stir it as a local man told me, by mimicking it to me. This is not only because of the sugar, but also to make it mix with the icecubes (I don’t know if I got that translation right, but it did make sense to me).
Then you can spend hours drinking it while people watching or you just order a new one. This particular space didn’t mind if you also brought in a banh mi (Sandwich) which you bought outside, they sold the drinks (coffee, tea and a couple of soft drinks) and were quite okay if you brought your breakfast snack with you.
This place had the best ca phe da, because it was so strong it made your spoon stand in it (no it wasn’t the ice cubes surrounding it…). Which was really pleasant, because the coffee still tasted like coffee once the ice had melted completely.
If you order one make sure to put emphasis on the word “da”, make it sound like “daaaaa” and let your voice climb slightly up, otherwise it means something completely different.
This seems to be the national drink, I saw it on every street corner and especially at night and in the early morning pop-up cafes were a common and well visited place.