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Memories of Vietnamese Coffee

            Food is not only what we consume every day, but also strongly embedded in our social patterns and helps us define our identities in many different ways. Growing up in a Vietnamese family, I have a vivid memory of Vietnamese coffee. Unlike American espresso or latte, Vietnamese coffee is unique in its own way. Roasted with Robusta beans, it has a very bitter taste, thick and strong consistency and contains a great amount of caffeine. Vietnamese coffee is often mixed with condensed milk and ice (or served hot). Since I was a little girl, my father would always bring him with me when he met up with his friends at work at a small coffee shop near where I lived. I always wanted to drink his coffee but my mother would not let me because of the great amount of caffeine in it. But sometimes my father would pour a little from his cup to my tiny hello kitty water bottle and tell me not to let mom see it. I was so in love with that bittersweet taste. It made my day every time he did that. .
             In Vietnamese culture, coffee doesn't serve as an individual beverage to hype up energy. Friends and especially co-workers like to hang out together at coffee shops in the morning or at lunch break. Families often gather together, watching TV and drinking coffee at home on Saturday afternoons. Vietnamese coffee not only attaches to the personal memory of my father and socially brings people together but also culturally expresses norms and values of a certain group that were long embedded into our social patterns. .
             In our culture, coffee acts as a social event that brings people together to engage in conversations that would not be the same without a cup of coffee. Vietnamese people often gather with close friends and relatives in the living room after dinner or visit coffee shops on the street sidewalks to enjoy their coffee and casually chat or have deep conversations. Drinking coffee in our culture can compare to friends and families hanging out and getting drinks in other cultures.

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