Thai Coffee Vs. Vietnamese Coffee (How To Make Their Coffee)

My favorite thing about summer is swopping my steaming mug of joe for a delicious iced coffee. I like my iced coffee sweet, with a rich flavor, which is why I always go for Vietnamese coffee. Thai coffee is also sweet and is usually served over ice as well. Curious to find out the difference between Thai Coffee and Vietnamese coffee, I did a bit of research.

Vietnamese coffee is made with dark Robusta beans using the drip method. It is sweetened with condensed milk. Thai coffee is also made with dark Robusta beans, but spices and grains are also added to the brew. Condensed milk or sugar is mixed into the coffee to add sweetness.

Vietnamese and Thai Coffee contain different ingredients, which gives them each their unique taste. What’s more, the methods used to make these coffees are also distinctly different.

The Main Differences Between Thai Coffee And Vietnamese Coffee

At first glance, Thai Coffee and Vietnamese Coffee look the same. Originating from Southeast Asia’s hot and humid climate, both are most often served chilled.

Made from dark roasted Robusta beans, both Thai and Vietnamese Coffee have bold, intense flavors and provide an excellent caffeine boost.

While there are many similarities between Thai Coffee and Vietnamese Coffee, there are some differences between the two.

Thai CoffeeVietnamese Coffee
Also called Oliang, Oleang, or Gafae YenAlso called Ca Phe Da or Ca Phe Sua Da
Thai coffee is brewed using the ‘Kafae Thung’ or ‘Kafae Boran’ method. This translates to ‘bag coffee’ or ‘old-fashioned coffee.’ Coffee grounds are placed in a cotton or muslin filter that looks like a windsock and is called a ‘Tungdtom.’ The Tungdom is then steeped in boiling water. The coffee is brewed for about 5 minutes, after which the bag is removed, and milk and sugar are added.Coffee is made using the drip method. Coffee grounds are spooned into a metal filter called a ‘Phin.’ Hot water is poured into Phin, over the coffee grounds, and drips slowly into the pot below. Once the coffee has dripped through the Phin and into the pot, it is left to cool for a few minutes. Condensed milk is mixed into the coffee. It is then poured into a cup over ice. 
Other ingredients like cardamom, corn, soybeans, rice, and sesame seeds are added to the coffee grounds.No other spices or grains are added. But has a blend of both Robusta and Arabica coffee beans.
Either condensed milk, evaporated milk, or plain milk and sugar are added.Condensed milk is a key ingredient, giving Vietnamese coffee a velvety sweet and creamy taste.
Chocolate notes and a rich, spicy flavorBitter, sweet, bold flavors

Flavor Profile of Vietnamese Coffee

Arabica and Robusta

The blend of Robusta and Arabica coffee beans gives Vietnamese coffee a bold, robust taste. However, the strength and bitterness are toned down by the addition of sweetened condensed milk. It is a delicious, creamy, and refreshing beverage, perfect for a hot and sunny day.

Flavor Profile of Thai Coffee

Thai coffee has a distinctive flavor because of the grains and spices that are added to it.

Nowadays, a blend of these grains and spices can be purchased in powder form at most Asian supermarkets, ready to be brewed with your coffee grounds. It can even be mixed into instant coffee. 

Dark roasted coffee beans are used, giving Thai coffee a bold and robust flavor.

History Of Thai Coffee

Thai farm
In one of Thailand’s coffee farms

Thailand produces and exports a large amount of Robusta coffee beans. However, Arabica beans are now being grown in the country’s Northern regions.

Since Robusta coffee beans are seen as lower quality than Arabica, most of the coffee beans grown in Thailand are used to make blends and instant coffee.

During the twentieth century, coffee shops became very popular in Thailand, as people would gather here to socialize. This led to a growing love for coffee among Thai people. This love and appreciation for coffee continue today.

History Of Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam coffee making

Like Thailand, Vietnam is also a significant producer of Robusta coffee beans. 

Vietnam is known for its scorching climate. This is the main reason condensed milk is added to coffee instead of milk. Street vendors traditionally sold coffee. When milk was added to the coffee, it would go bad quickly because of the heat and humidity. Condensed milk can withstand this heat.

Here’s How To Make Thai Coffee And Vietnamese Coffee At Home

Thai coffee making

These are quick and easy cheat ways to make these Southeast Asian coffees at home without special equipment or apparatus. 

To make Thai coffee, brew a cup of strong black coffee with two teaspoons of Thai coffee mix. If you are not able to get a Thai coffee mix, substitute this for two teaspoons of cardamom powder. Once brewed, pour the coffee into a glass. Add one tablespoon of condensed milk or evaporated milk and sugar to taste. Finish by adding in some ice.

Place a coffee filter at the top of a heat-resistant glass to make Vietnamese coffee. Fold the edges of the filter over the top of the glass so that it is firmly secured over the glass. Spoon coffee grounds into the filter. Then pour boiling water into the filter and allow the water to drip slowly into the glass below. Once the water has filtered through into the glass, add sweetened condensed milk and ice. 

Conclusion

Thai and Vietnamese Coffee has many similarities. They are both made from dark Robusta coffee beans, are sweet, and are most commonly served chilled. The main difference between the two is the grains and spices that are added to Thai coffee, which gives it a distinctive taste. The manner in which Vietnamese and Thai coffee is made is also different. 

While I appreciate a bit of spice and the chocolate notes of a well-made Thai Coffee, I would choose a Vietnamese coffee if I had to pick between the two. Sweet and creamy with a decadent coffee flavor, it is a delicious, refreshing pick-me-up on a hot day.