What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Different?

What makes Vietnamese coffee different? It’s because it’s a dark, inexpensive coffee that is served with sweetened condensed milk.

What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Different
Vietnamese coffee tastes different from other types of coffee hooked up many coffee lovers

Are you missing out on Vietnamese coffee? Learn about what makes Vietnamese coffee different from anything you’ve tasted before! Just be prepared for the darkest roast you’ll probably ever try!

The first thing to know as you explore the beautiful flavor profile of Vietnamese coffee is that Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world! Only Brazil beats Vietnam when it comes to producing beans that are sent all over the world!

No, it’s not your imagination if you notice that Vietnamese coffee tastes different from other types of coffee. Vietnamese coffee is almost always Robusta. There are a few different things to know about Robusta coffee that will intrigue you.

The first big thing to know about Robusta coffee is that it’s very strong. In fact, Robusta coffee is nearly twice as strong as a popular alternative like Arabica. That makes this an appealing option if you love dark, highly caffeinated coffee that provides a big energy boost.

Robusta coffee also has a very distinct flavor profile. Yes, it’s much darker and bitterer than many other types of coffee. That very rich, strong flavor experience that you get is mostly due to the fact that a higher caffeine concentration simply means a brew with extra bitterness.

It’s understandable why so many people become hooked on Vietnamese coffee once they experience it. It can be hard to turn to a smoother, lighter brew once you get used to this energy-boosting, rich variety of beans. However, there’s an even bigger reason why so many people stick to Vietnamese coffee.

Vietnamese coffee is one of the best bargains you can get! Many blends like Arabica and Kona are known for being a little pricey. However, Vietnamese coffee is famously very inexpensive.

The reason why Vietnamese coffee is less expensive than many other options comes down to simple economics. Generally, Robusta beans are drastically less expensive than other bean types. The lower cost of Robusta should not convince you that it’s an inferior product.

Why is Robusta Vietnamese coffee cheaper than Arabica and other popular coffee types? The reason mostly has to do with growing conditions. It takes a little bit of background knowledge regarding growing trends to see the whole picture.

Arabica and Kona beans famously grow in very limited environments. They require very specific altitude and growing conditions that only exist in very exclusive pockets of the world. In fact, Kona coffee can only be grown in one very specific spot nestled against a Hawaiian volcano.

Yes, most coffee grown around the world needs high altitudes and volcanic soil to grow. All of this means harvesting space and seasons are both very limited. That’s why you’re paying so much!

Robusta Vietnamese coffee is much easier to grow than other types of coffee. The main reason for this is that Vietnamese coffee can be grown at lower altitudes than other types of coffee. What’s more, the bean is much more resistant to pests and diseases.

Vietnamese coffee comes from a hardy crop that simply requires less care and manpower to produce. What’s more, the crop that is produced is typically much larger than what you’d get with something like Arabica or Kona. It all comes together to create a much more affordable cup of coffee for you to enjoy.

You might be wondering why Robusta coffee is so hardy and resistant to disease. This bean type’s high caffeine concentration is actually partly to thank. The bottom line is that the heartiness and bountifulness of Robusta can be thanked for producing one of the world’s most affordable coffee options.

Is Vietnamese Coffee Roasted Differently?

It is typical for coffee roasters to use techniques for making over-roasted beans when processing Vietnamese coffee beans. This may seem like total overkill to someone who simply doesn’t have a palate for dark, bitter coffee. However, those who love a strong and bitter brew wouldn’t have it any other way!

Is Vietnamese Coffee Brewed In A Special Way?

Bean style isn’t the only reason why Vietnamese coffee tastes different from other types of coffee. An entirely different roasting and brewing combination are actually used when producing this style of coffee. Let’s explore!

You probably noticed some interesting things if you’ve been served Vietnamese coffee in the past. Your cup likely delivered a very thick brew with a strong taste. This was definitely by design!

Vietnamese coffee that is served by Vietnamese restaurants and street vendors is nearly always produced using the drip method. In fact, Vietnamese coffee should be assumed to be drip coffee unless someone specifies otherwise! Why is this?

In Vietnam, a cup of coffee that is produced slowly is treasured. That’s because the custom for drinking coffee in Vietnam is to sip slowly while savoring every note. There is never any rush to finish your cup quickly!

Aluminum Drip Filters

The “slow” nature of Vietnamese coffee is actually a staple of Vietnamese culture. People use the act of sharing a cup of coffee as a reason to sit and talk for a little while. Even the act of preparing a cup of drip coffee is considered something of sacred art in Vietnam.

If you visit Vietnam, you’ll notice that it takes a while to get your coffee served to you. Vietnamese drip coffee is typically prepared using aluminum drip filters or stainless steel aluminum drip filters (see Amazon). It is also served in glass cups instead of the porcelain mugs or paper-to-go cups used in the United States.

Vietnamese Coffee Doesn’t Necessarily Take Creamer

Think twice before you grab some cream and sugar to mix into your cup of Vietnamese coffee. You could be making a coffee faux pas! Cream and sugar aren’t necessarily considered to be the right companions to coffee in Vietnam.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

What do you put in Vietnamese coffee instead of cream and sugar when trying to make it sweeter and lighter? The custom is to use sweetened condensed milk in your coffee! You may find that you can’t go back to enjoying coffee any other way once you try this!

Why would you want to put sweetened condensed milk in your coffee instead of creamer? This alternative actually provides the perks of adding multiple ingredients to your coffee in one easy spoonful. Condensed milk can take the place of both cream and sugar.

Sweeten condensed milk adds a very thick, sweet texture to rich, dark Vietnamese coffee. It also creates a “heaviness” that inspires you to sip slowly while savoring every lick of flavor! Of course, condensed milk also helps to leave you with a nice feeling of fullness.

How much sweetened condensed milk should you put in your Vietnamese coffee? It depends on your taste preferences. Here’s a quick guide:

  • 1 tablespoon per 8 ounces for a regular cup of Vietnamese coffee.
  • 2 tablespoons per 8 ounces for a sweet Vietnamese coffee.
  • 3 tablespoons per 8 ounces for extra-sweet Vietnamese coffee.

Going all the way to 3 tablespoons creates a very unique coffee experience that rivals any sweet, whipped coffee drink you’d get at a coffee shop. In fact, a 3-tablespoon coffee may actually taste more like a caramel-infused dessert than a cup of java! Let’s just say that the line between coffee and dessert is very blurry at most Vietnamese coffee houses.

Don’t Forget About Vietnamese Egg Coffee

A cup of Vietnamese coffee on a table.
Vietnamese egg coffee

You can’t talk about Vietnamese coffee without bringing up the famous Vietnamese egg coffee that is served at coffee shops all throughout Hanoi. Yes, this style of coffee really does have egg in it! It is made using brewed coffee, an egg yolk and sweet condensed milk. You might also be interested in reading about what Affogato is.

You might be very curious to find out what Vietnamese egg coffee tastes like. The easiest way to describe it is to say that it tastes very similar to eggnog. You can sometimes find it served with an extra helping of condensed sweet milk that makes it taste almost like a tiramisu or custard dessert.

Why Everyone Should Try Vietnamese Coffee

It’s important to know what to expect from Vietnamese coffee if you’ll be visiting Vietnam in the future. The way that coffee is prepared and served plays a very important role in socializing! In fact, the streets of Hanoi are lined with street vendors selling famous Vietnamese street coffee!

You don’t have to wait to try Vietnamese coffee until you actually get to Vietnam. Why not try brewing some at home to ensure that you’re already an expert by the time you need to drink it in the company of others? Yes, being prepared for the bitterness can make you look like a pro!

Strong, delicious Vietnamese coffee is something that every coffee lover should try! The low cost of this coffee variety means that you won’t have to worry about overspending to indulge your cravings if you do fall in love.

Of course, the most satisfying thing of all about Vietnamese coffee might be the way you’re encouraged to drink it slowly while enjoying the company you’re in!

Questions About Vietnamese Coffee

Can You Make Vietnamese Coffee Using Any Type of Bean?

Only coffee that comes from beans grown in Vietnam is technically considered Vietnamese coffee. However, you can make Vietnamese-style coffee by adding sweetened condensed milk to any type of coffee that you brew.

Can You Only Purchase Vietnamese Coffee in Vietnam?

Many Vietnamese markets around the world sell authentic Vietnamese coffee. You can also order beans or grounds from Vietnam online or shop it on Amazon.

Can You Make Iced Vietnamese Coffee?

Yes, iced Vietnamese coffee is actually very common. You can simply serve ordinary Vietnamese coffee that has been brewed and cooled over ice. In fact, Vietnamese coffee is a good fit for iced coffee because its dark nature and high caffeine content offset some of the watered-down effects that come from ice cubs.

The mix of cold coffee and sweetened condensed milk also happens to be delicious!

Can You Drink Vietnamese Coffee Black?

Yes, it’s possible to simply drink Vietnamese coffee black. However, this isn’t a popular custom. The darkness and bitterness of Vietnamese coffee are usually overwhelming unless it’s evened out by sweet milk.

Do You Need Special Equipment to Make Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee can be brewed using any mechanism that you use to brew regular coffee. Many people like to brew Vietnamese coffee using a French press. You can also simply brew it using a standard coffee maker if you don’t care for slow-drip coffee.

What Else Can I Put in Vietnamese Coffee?

You might want to experiment with sweetening dark Vietnamese coffee using a variety of ingredients. Heavy cream and sugar can be used if you don’t have access to sweetened condensed milk.

In addition, some people like to add whipped topping and cocoa shavings to counter the bitterness of Robusta coffee.

Do I Need Special Coffee Filters to Make Vietnamese Coffee?

Most people use metal coffee filters when making Vietnamese coffee. However, it is acceptable to use regular paper filters.

Where Can I Buy Sweetened Condensed Milk for Vietnamese Coffee?

You can purchase sweetened condensed milk at nearly every grocery store. No special type of condensed milk is required. It’s perfectly fine to use the condensed milk that is commonly used for baking in the United States.



  • Cian Murray

    Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies. Find Cian on muckrack.com.