Gus Nguyen – 2.28.23

As I sit in my cozy Orange County home, I can’t help but reflect on my life journey so far. I immigrated to the United States from Da Nang, Vietnam in 1985, at the age of 22, with nothing but the clothes on my back and the determination to escape communism. It was a treacherous journey, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But looking back, I’m grateful for the experience as it has made me appreciate the little things in life, such as a cup of Vietnamese coffee.

In Vietnamese culture, coffee holds a significant place. It’s not just a beverage but a way of life. Coffee shops are an integral part of Vietnamese social life, and people often gather to catch up with friends, conduct business meetings, or just sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee. It’s a way to slow down and savor the moment, something that we often forget to do in our busy lives.

The preparation of Vietnamese coffee is unique, and the key is in the Phin filter. This is a small metal filter that sits on top of a cup, and the coffee is prepared in a pour-over style. The coffee is strong, and to balance the bitterness, sweetened condensed milk is added. This creates a rich and creamy flavor that’s hard to resist.

As I make my morning cup of coffee, I can’t help but think back to my village in Da Nang. The smell of freshly brewed coffee would waft through the air, and I would watch my mother prepare it in the Phin filter. It was a ritual that she followed every morning, and the aroma of the coffee would linger throughout the day.

While life has taken me far away from my village, and my loved ones, my love for Vietnamese coffee has remained constant. It’s a connection to my past, to my culture, and to my heritage. Even when times were tough, and money was scarce, a cup of Vietnamese coffee was always within reach. It’s a reminder that no matter what life throws at you, the simple things can always bring happiness.

Now, as a 55-year-old man, I have a family of my own, and I enjoy making Vietnamese coffee for my wife and children. It’s something that we can all enjoy together, and I’m glad that I can share a part of my culture with them. Even though they were born and raised here in the United States, they appreciate the flavors and traditions that come with Vietnamese coffee.

In conclusion, Vietnamese coffee plays a significant role in our culture and heritage. It’s not just a beverage, but a way of life. It reminds us to slow down, savor the moment, and appreciate the little things in life. As I take a sip of my coffee, I’m transported back to my village in Da Nang, and I’m reminded of happier times. It’s a small pleasure that brings me joy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share it with my family.