Milk, half-and-half, sugar. All common things to add to your cup of joe. But how about throwing some cheese into the mix?
Journalist Halima Ali recently visited Hanoi’s Giang Café, famous for its cà phê trứng, or “egg coffee.” Giang Nguyen invented this caffeinated beverage in 1946. Milk was in short supply then, so Nguyen turned to whisked egg yolks as a substitute. While his recipe remains top secret, the concoction is known to also include condensed milk, butter, and yes, cheese.
Giang’s sells hot and iced cà phê trứng, and Ali sampled both. In her story for The Guardian, she describes the hot egg coffee as having a thick texture with vanilla notes, while the cold version reminded her of coffee ice cream.
“As it is known as egg coffee, I didn’t realize it included cheese or even butter for that matter until I was told at the café,” Ali told culture. “In all honesty, I couldn’t taste the cheese at all.”
Even if its flavors can’t be detected, the cheese must add some value to the drink if it’s been included all these years. (We actually like to think it’s the difference maker, since Giang’s continues to be the go-to destination for egg coffee in Vietnam’s capital.)
Want to try making it at home? There are a few recipes online, including this one from Food52 and this version from BBC Good Food that includes dark chocolate. You’ll have to experiment with how much and what kind of cheese to add, though, since neither include it in their ingredients.