This week sees a coffee that you won't easily find on the supermarket shelf but it's well worth hunting it down. A Vietnamese coffee from Ca Phe VN; I went directly to their stall in Broadway Market, but they have an online shop as well.
This is their house brand, ZgoZ – or NgoN, the Vietnamese word for delicious. The grounds are incredibly dark. The initial aroma is full of cocoa more than coffee – warm, rich and sweet without a discernable burnt roast. Given time to air, the cocoa fades a little and there's just a hint of that roasted bean smell.
Brewed, the first thing that strikes you is the look – it's black and thick, and looks more like crude oil than coffee. In fact when I first made this (in a filter coffee machine) I genuinely thought that I must have somehow put double or triple the grounds in, and that it was going to be undrinkably strong.
The nose still has that dark chocolate sweetness dominating, but there's also an undercurrent of the dying embers of a bonfire.
In the mouth, it's still sweet and rich with some real coffee flavour coming through along with the chocolate. Warming, but with almost no hint of bitterness, it's a brew that I happily drank unsweetened even back when I took sugar in my coffee.
However, there is a downside – this is a highly variable coffee. The first packet I had was incredibly chocolatey, but I have also had packets which were much less sweet with more of a burnt edge to them. Still delicious, it's just not as special on those occasions.
As such, and despite it being the highest scoring coffee of all time at work at 8.3 out of 10, I'm marking it down a little on consistency so it only scores 4.0 stars – although if you get a good packet, add at least half a star!
This review was originally published 5th November, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.