Trung Nguyen Whole Bean Coffees
Whole Bean Coffee in Vietnam
Why Whole Bean is more expensive:
In Vietnam, coffee is sold pre-ground almost exclusively. This is because the special Vietnamese roast produces an extremely stable bean, which resists oxidization (the main source of coffee aging). Coffees is sold in the optimal grind setting for use in the traditional Phin filter or French Press, the most common brewing methods in the region. Pre-ground coffee is so convenient that the Vietnamese see no reason to bother buying whole beans at all. However, many Americans have specialized coffee makers that require whole beans, or simply have a strong personal preference for whole beans. Thus, we have to special-order whole bean coffee from Trung Nguyen. Special orders like this naturally cost us more per bag, and are more difficult to procure.
How long will TN pre-ground coffee stay fresh?
The special Vietnamese roast mentioned above uses a blend of natural oils to coat the beans during roasting. The beans are then roasted over a relatively low flame for a long time, which brings the whole bean to a deep, even roast without scorching any of the delicate natural sugars in the bean. The result is not only deliciously flavorful, low in acid, and excellent for icing, but also helps keep the coffee fresh for a long time. Trung Nguyen ground coffee is packaged in a state-of-the-art facility which uses the coffee's natural outgassing process and nitrogen, an inert gas, to expel all the oxygen out of the bag. It will stay as fresh as the day it was packaged for at least a year.
Why buy whole bean Trung Nguyen coffees at all, then? Truthfully, the only time we would recommend whole bean Trung Nguyen coffee is if you have a specialized brewing machine that requires whole beans, or if you really enjoy the process of grinding coffee beans. In our experience, the difference in flavor is generally so minor as to be unnoticable.
Below you will find the whole bean coffees that are currently available. If this explanation of the Trung Nguyen packaging process changed your mind after reading this, however, then please click here to shop for ground coffee.
Creative One (Culi Robusta)
Dark, strong, full-bodied and naturally sweet, can stand up to plenty of milk and sugar. A particularly excellent choice for iced coffee.
Trademark heirloom Vietnamese Robusta originally established in Vietnam in 1890 - 1922, made from select Culi (single, unsplit, peaberry) beans for richest flavor. Dark, strong, full-bodied and naturally sweet, can stand up to plenty of milk and sugar. A particularly excellent choice for iced coffee.
The Vietnamese pioneered and perfected the Robusta variety over a hundred years ago. Yet in the late 20th century, much of the gourmet quality of this heirloom variety was lost due to improper cultivation and harvesting. The Culi Robusta is Trung Nguyen's triumphant return to the best gourmet Robusta in the world. There simply is no other source that we have found that exemplifies the true potential of gourmet, heirloom Robusta raised in the perfect climate, picked in multiple sessions, and sun-dried for up to 10 days to achieve the full ripeness and wonderful flavor tones that cannot be duplicated in water-washed coffees.
Creative #1 is an extremely full-bodied coffee, partially Culi or "peaberry mix, that fills the room with superior aroma. Some can detect a chocolaty flavor, too, that originates from the long ripening process. It is difficult to describe this coffee to Americans who have never had access to a gourmet heirloom Robusta, and who have been told that only Arabica coffee can be exceptional. This is one of the world's best gourmet "cheap thrills". Because of the prolific growth of Robusta, this coffee is available in a price range well below its worth in quality.
It makes an excellent, strong iced coffee. We stock some locations that brew the Culi Robusta commercially as their only iced coffee and it has performed better than their previous brands. However, the Culi Robusta does not store well as an iced coffee, so it should be served only on the day it is brewed.
The Culi Robusta is a high-caffeine coffee, with about 40% more caffeine than most Arabicas. It's hard to brew this coffee too strong. as it has few faults. It performs well in most drip machines at one level tablespoon, or more to taste, per cup. It can be doubled up in a Phin or French Press for an espresso intensity. It also is a great mixer for improving the flavor of that expensive Arabica coffee you have in your pantry that you were disappointed with. Blend your own Arabica/Robusta mix and you will join the millions who say "Wow!" over Culi Robusta in any form.
Robusta is a superior coffee for those who like to drink their coffee with cream and sugar, since it has been lab-proven that Robusta flavors are not masked by cream and sugar, unlike many Arabicas.
Creative Two (Robusta Arabica)
Blend of rich, bold Robusta and milder fragrant Arabica; one of our most popular and well-rounded coffees.
The Trung Nguyen Robusta Arabica is definitely the hands-down most accessible and popular coffee served in our taste testings and Market booths. It's a wonderful blend of high-quality Arabica and heirloom Robusta. It is an "anytime" coffee, with medium caffeine, well-balanced blended taste, and as good iced as it is hot. We suspect that at one time, a blend like this was the standard approach to fine coffee served around the world, before the days of modern hybrids and confined one-species tastes.
If you have never tried Vietnamese coffee, here is a perfect first candidate. In over 20,000 taste tests we can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who were not enthusiastic about this coffee.
This coffee is best brewed at 1.5 tablespoons per cup, in a cone-shaped drip machine, French Press, percolator or any soak method. For some reason the coffee is not as successful in commercial machines as some of the other Trung Nguyen coffees, so we don't recommend it as a coffeehouse coffee, despite its immense popularity in home brewing. The whole bean is exceptionally flavorful, and could be experimented with if you want to use the #2 as a base for coffee specialty drinks and a house coffee.
If you are introducing a friend to Vietnamese coffee and you don't know their tastes, you can't go wrong with this balanced and delicious popular favorite coffee with a budget price.
Creative Three (Arabica Se)
Select Buon Me Thuot Highland Arabica. Se means "Sparrow", the name given to this indigenously developed varietal, grown only in Vietnam. A sweet, refreshing coffee with no bitterness. Floral and vanilla notes; extremely versatile.
The Trung Nguyen Arabica Se is one of the world's most select and superior Arabica coffees. The Se stands for "Sparrow". The Sparrow Arabica is a cultivar grown exclusively in Vietnam and is noted for its mild acidity and superb balance. We often describe it as "what a donut-shop coffee wants to be when it grows up"!
If you object to the flavors in the new hybrid Arabicas, which can be redolant of licorice, lemon or barley, you will enjoy the fully old-world taste of this fine Arabica.
The Arabica Se is such a great combination of mild acidity and balanced aroma and taste that it is well suited as an all-purpose coffee, served any time of day and excellent for icing.
It's also a perfect dessert coffee, being a little sweet and wonderfully rich, so it isn't eclipsed by your Tiramisu. Iced, it should be brewed strong. It's impossible to make the Se bitter by brewing, so use it in any brewing method and feel free to double the amount of grinds or even make it Turkish-style if you begin with whole bean and grind it fine.
This coffee is also a good candidate for cold brewing, where it picks up floral tones and becomes a low-acid but flavorful coffee when used in an iced coffee concentrate.
The Se works well in any brewing method, including even basket filter drip machines.
Creative Four (Premium Culi)
Blend of culi (single, unsplit) beans of Arabica, Robusta, Chari and Catimor. Strong, deep, dark and complex.
The quintessential coffeehouse favorite, and Trung Nguyen's proudest traditional multi-bean blend.
This coffee is a gourmet's dream blend. Trung Nguyen puts together carefully selected Culi (unsplit "peaberries") from 4 different varieties. A lot of care and balancing goes into this coffee, and Trung Nguyen is rewarded by many loyal Vietnamese drinkers who proclaim this their favorite brew.
There are a lot of complex flavors in this coffee, and it also runs a little to the bitter and acid tastes, which is a plus for people who want a full-bodied coffee experience. If you like strong coffee, double up on this one and go for the gusto! In winter this is a comfort coffee, with its rich, appetite-awakening flavor and aroma. In the summer it ices well and picks up different flavor tones.
Many restaurants and coffeeshops serve this coffee as their one, representative "Vietnamese coffee" in the Phin single-serving filter. Sometimes fans of this coffee will double it up in the small filter and drink it espresso-strength.
Culi-based coffees have an edge to them that is lost if stored in the fridge as iced coffee concentrate. Drink it fresh... and brew it right onto ice if you can. It's a sipping coffee when made strong, delightful in every taste.
Interestingly, the Creative #4 Premium Culi is one of the more successful coffees for brewing in home drip machines, and it works well in Bunn-style office carafe machines. At one level tablespoon per coffee you get a mild but broad taste. At 1.5 or 2 tablespoons you get that intense flavor it is famous for.
As with most Vietnamese coffees, if you can control the temperature you can get different effects. At 185° brewing you accent all the extra flavor tones and the chocolate/vanilla hints. At 205° you lose those flavor tones and get a more American-style coffee.
Creative Five (Culi Arabica)
Hand-selected culi (single, unsplit, peaberry) Arabica beans from Buon Me Thuot Highlands for intense and complex 100% Arabica multi-source flavor. Fragrant, smooth, yet with a dark edge from the peaberries; a gourmet choice.
The Culi Arabica is a world-class, multi-source, peaberry blended coffee. The Creative #5 is a coffeehouse favorite here in the USA. One bakery/coffeeshop here in New England displays the Culi Arabica in a presspot along with 6-7 other world-class coffees from Jamaica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sumatra, etc., and tells us that their patrons self-select the Culi Arabica over ANY OTHER coffee they have offered.
This is a fragrant heirloom Arabica coffee with a complexity in the low tones one might expect from gourmet Robusta or Excelsa coffee. There is not a hint of objectionable modern hybrid licorice or barley taste. It is a favorite in winter due to its comforting dark, peaberry edge and broad flavor range. It has a haunting aftertaste that commands a second cup. In the summer it has an edge that makes it a unique and superb iced coffee.
You can go in many directions brewing the Creative #5. It's an Arabica that can be brewed lightly to provide a superbly balanced breakfast-style coffee, but it also is a peaberry, dark coffee that can be brewed strong to provide a Full City Roast intensity with no bitterness.
To brew light, you may want to use as little as a level tablespoon per cup. But you can go as strong as you like, even stacking it high in a Phin filter to get an espresso-like result. This is a coffee that is immensly versatile and fun, and for many Trung Nguyen fans, it's their favorite all-round blend.
For calibrating this coffee for commercial brewing, we suggest the whole bean, set to the grind you need. In commercial machines, if the grind is off, the flavor result can move from light to dark too easily, and some of the fabulous flavor hints can be lost, particularly if brewing at a high temperature (above 195°). The grind is good for Bunn-style carafe brewers, where the results are reliable and delicious and will surpass any coffee service coffee.
For home brewing, the pre-ground is perfect for cone-filter drip machines, percs, cold-brewing, Phin filters and French Press, so you typically won't get any flavor advantage from grinding it yourself. If you use a basket-style machine you may want the whole bean and it should be ground to medium-fine.
Classic Whole Bean Legendee
The original Legendee blend, with a higher percentage of peaberries and Robusta, and correspondingly darker flavor that ices exceptionally well. Legendee is sometimes referred to as "weasel" coffee in Vietnam.
One of the world's most famous coffees, the Legendee is a unique enzymatically-treated coffee that releases flavors bound in the beans and not released under ordinary processing. The Legendee product is largely regarded as the world's most successful attempt to produce a coffee with the balance and flavor of the famous Kopi Luwak, or Civet/Weasel coffee. Trung Nguyen worked hard on achieving a new balance of Arabica and Excelsa beans in this formula.
Tourists to Vietnam often don't consider their visit complete until they have sat in a Trung Nguyen coffeehouse and tried the Legendee brewed by the single-cup Phin filters. We get a lot of comments also that the Legendee is more available here to buy on our site for home brewing than it is in Vietnam, and at a lower cost. The Trung Nguyen coffeehouses in Vietnam seem to consider it more of a trademark coffee for single-serve at the café than something people buy to take home.
Classic Whole Bean Legendee
The ground Legendee in the gold bag is a slightly different blend
than the whole bean Legendee in the silver bag. This blend features a higher percentage
of peaberries and Robusta, with correspondingly darker flavor that ices
exceptionally well. Many of you may remember the original Legendee fondly,
and after fearing the coffee would never be made again, we're delighted
to have secured this supply for you.
The Legendee family is one of the world's most famous branded coffees, and we are the only authorized distributor in the USA.