Roasting coffee beans in Anchor butter makes the perfect cuppa in Vietnam.
Inside one of Vietnam’s largest coffee roasteries, a nutty, sweet aroma wafts through the air. Rich, earthy, ambrosial; it’s that unmistakeable scent of butter. Our NZ-made Anchor butter.
Roasting coffee with fat and flavourings isn’t new to South East Asia - traditional Malaysian and Indonesian roasteries add plant-oils, margarine as well as sugar to take away from the acidity of the beans.
The region’s coffee capital, known for its strong and flavourful local coffee, however, takes it to a whole new level.
“Vietnamese love their coffee,“ says Linda Tan, General Manager, Fonterra Vietnam. “It’s more than just a beverage or an energy boost; it’s a way of life.”
Across the country, coffee can be found on every alleyway and around every corner, from simple roadside stands to chic cafes. Next to rice, quality coffee is Vietnam’s second most exported commodity and it’s the world’s second-largest producer of coffee, right after Brazil.
The preparation process, as well as the blend of beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular style. Their traditional roasting method allows the beans to release intense and complex taste notes.
Alongside rice wine and salt, palm and corn oils have been the traditional choices for roasting because they cost less and are readily accessible, says Linda. The use of these additives gives the coffee a more intense flavour and a slightly oily texture. “Seeing this, we knew our pure butter would make a discernible difference to flavour and taste.”
Armed with our Anchor butter, the team approached Trung Nguyen, the country’s leading premium coffee brand, which has a large chain of premium stores, supplies a range of coffee powders to retail channels and exports to more than 60 markets around the globe.
The customer was then using a competitor brand of ambient butter on some of its range but was facing supply issues. “We saw our way in,” says Linda, adding that Anchor’s provenance and grass-fed value proposition offered a compelling advantage.
With one foot in, the team wasted no time in trying to understand the customer’s preparation process, which varies by roasteries and is a tightly held secret.
Their persistence paid off with Trung Nguyen placing their first trial order of canned Anchor butter earlier this year, locking in a full year commitment shortly after.
The butter gives Trung Nguyen’s coffee beans a glossy finish, enhanced aroma and a distinctive taste profile, what Linda calls the right ‘mouth feel’.
“You can actually smell the buttery notes before you taste it; subtle at first, then it hits you with a smooth, caramel finish”, says Linda.
Butter-roasted coffee is best suited for a traditional filter called a phin, which is placed over a glass, laden with a spoonful (or two) of sweetened condensed milk. The coarsely ground beans are weighted down with a thin lid, hot water is added to the phin, and then the water slowly trickles through into the cup - a slow ritual that requires patience but well worth the wait. While it is mostly served cold with ice, you can also order it hot.
“The sweet, rich nature of Vietnamese coffee is meant to be savoured and sipped slowly,” she says. “It’s absolutely delicious, and with our Anchor butter, more flavourful and naturally nutritious too.”