Vietnamese iced coffee done the right way is a treat and is usually reserved for weekends when you can either set up the small metal drip filter or phin, and read a newspaper as you wait for each thick caffeinated drop to settle over the layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the glass, or head to Bellaire and grab one from any of the sandwich shops or Vietnamese restaurants in town. Midweek cafe sua da cravings have often gone unanswered, but no more -- G7 to the rescue.
G7 is gourmet instant coffee from Trung Nguyen Coffee directly out of Vietnam. Trung Nguyen started as a small coffee-processing company but has now grown to have their own brand of ground coffee, coffee shops throughout Vietnam and three kinds of instant coffee, the 3- in-1, pure black and cappuccino.
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The name apparently derives from the international body known as the Group of 7, or G-7. The group consists of the finance ministers of seven industrialized nations: the United States, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. They are seven of the eight (China excluded) wealthiest nations on Earth. The correlation to coffee is unclear, but it's damn good coffee, instant or not.
The 3-in-1 contains coffee, sugar and cream; all it takes is three ounces of hot water and you're good to go. To make the iced coffee, use two packets of the coffee and dissolve the coffee with three ounces of hot water and add another three ounces of cold water before adding ice to it. As with a traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, it'll start out a little thicker but the ice will slowly dilute the coffee.
The coffee has a bold, full-bodied flavor due to the dry-roasting process that extracts the flavors directly from the coffee bean rather than from brewed coffee. There is actually a very good balance of sweetness, it also gives you the creaminess you would normally get from the condensed milk in a cafe sua.
One of the best things about G7 is the price: A bag of 25 will cost you just a little over $4. The only market we have found so far that carries G7 is Viet Hoa. If you happen to be down in the Chinatown area for your weekend Vietnamese coffee fix, stop in and make sure you have some on hand for midweek cravings, too.