Vietnamese Coffee vs Thai Iced Coffee: What is the difference?

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Written By Chad Kelley

The overly caffeinated chef dad taking you down the rabbit hole of caffeinated knowledge

When it comes to coffee, there are a lot of different ways to make it and even more ways to drink it. But what is the difference between Vietnamese coffee and Thai coffee? Is one better than the other? Let’s find out!

What exactly is a Thai Coffee?

Thai coffee is quite similar to Vietnamese coffee in terms of brewing process and taste. The main difference between the two is that Thai coffee is made with a stronger brewing method, which results in a more bitter flavor.

Thai coffee is also more commonly served iced, which makes it perfect for hot summer days. Thai iced coffee is not as sweet as its Vietnamese counterpart. The reason for this is the type of milk used.

Thai coffee can use evaporated milk, condensed milk,  or regular milk and sugar. Thai coffee is also know to use other elements in its coffee grounds such as sesame seeds and cardamom.

If you’re looking for a refreshing and delicious iced coffee, definitely give Thai coffee a try!

Thai Coffee Street Vendor

What is Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese Coffee is a highly sought after cafe experience. It is a strong yet smooth espresso drink, made famous by its signature component – cafe sua da – which translates to “coffee with ice and milk”.

This delightful variation of coffee typically contains sweetened condensed milk, served over crushed or cubed ice. What really sets Vietnamese Coffee apart from other coffee beverages is the brewing method used — by using a phin filter, unique flavor profiles are produced that can’t be replicated in other ways.

Whether you’re looking for a refreshing pick-me-up on a hot day or simply something unique to tantalize your taste buds, Vietnamese Coffee may be just the caffeine experience you’ve been looking for!

Types of coffee beans used

Coffee lovers can debate the many nuances between Thai and Vietnamese coffee, but the main difference lies in the type of beans used. In Thailand, robusta beans are ground up and brewed for their intense flavor and creamy texture; robusta beans are also known for their higher caffeine content.

Vietnamese coffee is usually made from darker roast arabica beans that have been finely ground, resulting in a bold flavor and robust aroma. It’s worth noting lighter roast coffee beans are sometimes used to create a slightly sweeter taste while still bringing that classic robustness to the cup.

Whether rich robusta or strong arabica, enjoying both Thai and Vietnamese coffees is sure to make any coffee lover happy!

If you’re looking for coffee to make authentic Thai or Vietnamese coffee, your best bet is an Asian market. They have a great selection of beans that will give you the perfect flavor for your home cafe.

Cafe du Monde has a classic blend of dark roast beans that are perfect for Vietnamese-style coffee. Trung Nguyen has some of the best beans from Vietnam, so you can’t go wrong with them.

Related Article: Arabica vs. Robusta Showdown: Which Bean Will Reign Supreme?

Brewing Method – phin filter vs espresso

Coffee aficionados may have heard of phin filter coffee, a traditional Vietnamese coffee filter.  It can be used to brew up a tastier cup of coffee compared to regular drip-style machines since it provides for a slower extraction of coffee beans than other brewing methods.

The phin allows you to control the variables of water temperature, agitation level, and amount of grounds used per cup — meaning every phin-brewed coffee can be customised as desired!

As such, phin-made coffees tend to be bolder and more full-bodied than their espresso or French press counterparts. For that aromatic and robust taste that is unmistakably Vietnamese style, phin filter is the way to go!

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Specialty Coffee at Home

Vietnamese Style Coffee Maker

What is a Phin Filter?

Have you heard of the Vietnamese coffee brewing method known as cà phê phin? A phin filter is the key equipment used to make this delicious coffee.

This traditional tool is made from stainless steel and takes some practice to master. But it’s worth it! With a few simple steps, you’ll have an amazing cup of coffee that’s uniquely flavorful and aromatic.

The ground beans are placed in the filter, then hot water is poured over it. The slow extraction process creates a smooth and intense flavor that can’t be replicated with any other brewing method. So give it a try — you won’t regret it!

The caffeine levels

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can be found in strong-tasting dark roast coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans, which are used mostly in instant coffees, contain more caffeine than the more popular Arabica coffee beans.

When brewed, a cup of coffee made from Arabica beans has about 60-70 mg of caffeine.  That being said, different brewing methods can change the caffeine content of your cup.

For instance, Vietnamese coffee brewed with a phin filter will generally have more caffeine than the same bean brewed in an espresso machine. So if you’re looking for a stronger kick, opt for the former.

The taste difference

There are many die-hard coffee drinkers out there who can tell the difference between a cup of Thai coffee and a cup of Vietnamese coffee. For the uninitiated, the main difference between the two is the taste.

How is Vietnamese coffee different? Well, it is typically sweeter and bolder, while Thai coffee has a softer, less intense flavor. It really comes down to personal preference as to which one you prefer.

Thai coffee pots

Coffee Growing Regions

Vietnamese coffee beans are typically grown in the Central Highlands region, while Thai coffee beans are typically grown in the northern parts of Thailand

Vietnam’s Central Highlands is a coffee lover’s paradise, with an array of local varieties and unique roasts that can make any picky connoisseur swoon. In contrast, the northern parts of Thailand hold a plethora of amazing coffee beans for all their own; the different terroirs lead to a wide range of taste profiles, from light and mellow to rich and bold.

So, whether you’re in the mood for something smooth and creamy or robust and bitter, you’ll be sure to find your perfect cup in either part of this beautiful country!

So there you have it! A detailed comparison between Thai coffee and Vietnamese coffee. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are actually quite a few differences between the two.

From the type of beans used to the brewing method and even the caffeine content, each coffee has its own unique flavor and characteristics.

So next time you’re in the mood for a cup of joe, make sure to choose wisely! Will it be the rich and bold flavor of Thai coffee or the more robust and strong taste of Vietnamese coffee? The choice is yours!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Vietnamese Coffee vs. Thai Iced Tea?

Thai iced tea is an aromatic and refreshing beverage originating in Thailand, made from black tea leaves, often with the addition of spices like star anise, tamarind, or cinnamon. It is sweetened with sugar and then combined with condensed or evaporated milk, which gives it a creamy, orange-hued appearance. The result is a sweet, spiced, and creamy tea that is typically served over ice and enjoyed as a refreshing treat in the hot Thai weather.

What makes Vietnamese iced coffee unique compared to other ways of drinking coffee?

Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê sữa đá, stands out from other coffee beverages due to its distinctive combination of strong, dark roast coffee and sweetened condensed milk, which creates a perfect balance of bold and sweet flavors. Served over ice, it makes for a refreshing and energizing drink.

Can I use any type of coffee beans for making Vietnamese coffee, or is there a specific type recommended?

While making Vietnamese coffee, you can certainly experiment with different beans, but the traditional choice is robusta beans. These beans offer a stronger, more intense flavor with a hint of chocolate, making them ideal for the rich taste that Vietnamese iced coffee is known for.

Are there any variations or additional ingredients I can add to my Vietnamese iced coffee to suit my personal taste?

Absolutely! While the classic recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, you can try swapping it with other dairy or non-dairy alternatives like coconut milk or almond milk. Feel free to add spices such as cinnamon or cardamom for an extra kick, or even blend it with ice for a frosty, frappe-like treat. Enjoy personalizing your Vietnamese iced coffee!