Thai Vs Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Differences, Recipes & Facts

These two iced coffees Vietnamese and Thai iced coffee are insanely delicious but often get mistaken for one another.

In terms of taste they’re pretty similar since they are both made with strongly brewed coffee mixed with some form of dairy and sweetener. But, the main difference is the coffee itself and its origins.

Thai and Vietnamese coffee share many similarities. For one, both came from southeast Asian countries and have similar ingredients, flavours, and serving styles.

But while these two coffee blends have many similarities, there are also differences that separate one from the other.

Let me walk you through the main differences between Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee along with some interesting facts about them.

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thai vs vietnamese iced coffee
While both coffee looks similar, it’s easy to differentiate between Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee.

Thai Vs Vietnamese Iced Coffee: The Differences

Coffee enthusiasts will only need to look at Thai and Vietnamese iced coffee to know how they differ. But for people still starting to dive into the coffee scene, differentiating Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee can be tricky.

These coffees look similar and are prepared similarly. So, it helps to learn the striking differences between the two, so you can quickly figure out which is which.

1. The coffee beans used

Vietnamese iced coffee uses robusta beans for its coffee base. For this reason, the resulting blend gives a bitter flavour along with its sweetness.

On the other hand, Thai iced coffee consists of fresh coffee beans ground along with different spices. These spices include sesame seeds, soybeans, cardamom, and corn.

The coffee beans and spices are mixed and ground all at the same time, making a unique mixture with different flavours.

2. Coffee filter

phin coffee filter
A phin is a Vietnamese coffee filter that allows coffee to slowly drip into your cup.

If you have been to a local coffee shop in Vietnam, you may have seen a metal filter baristas use to brew their coffee. This metal filter is called phin, a simple yet distinctive decanter that makes a single serving of coffee.

Your coffee will slowly drip from the metal filter, allowing the water to extract most flavours from the coffee grounds.

Meanwhile, Thai iced coffee brewers use the tungtdom for their coffee preparation. This tool consists of a muslin cloth attached to a metal ring with a handle.

tungtdom coffee filter
A tungtdom is a cloth filter attached to a metal ring and handle.

3. Preparation/Recipe

Differentiating Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee involves looking into their preparation.

Thai iced coffee uses three ingredients: coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. Vietnamese iced coffee has similar elements, but people add spices to the coffee grounds before brewing them.

4. Taste

Since robusta coffee, the main component of Vietnamese iced coffee, is famous for its strong and bitter flavours, Vietnamese iced coffee has a contrasting sweetness and bitterness. It also has bolder flavours, irrespective of its simple preparation.

Thai iced coffee, on the other hand, has a unique taste due to the spices brewed along with the coffee grounds. It is also sweet and refreshing, making it perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

Thai And Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipes

iced coffee
You will see that there are distinctive differences if you compare Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee in terms of taste.

If you compare Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee, you will see that both countries tend to use sweetened condensed milk. However, some Vietnamese coffee brewers substitute condensed milk with plain milk and sugar.

Moreover, there is no secret when you make a recipe comparison of Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee. Both recipes start by brewing the coffee beans, mixing the sweetened condensed milk, and pouring them over ice.

The only difference is that Vietnamese iced coffee uses condensed milk and heavy cream or plain milk. In contrast, Thai iced coffee only uses either of the two. The latter may also have sugar if you use plain milk.

If you want to make these two coffee blends at home, let me share with you two easy recipes.

Making Thai Iced Coffee

You will need:

  • 16 ounces robusta coffee
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk

While authentic Thai iced coffee uses robusta beans for a strong taste, you can use any type of coffee as long as you brew it strongly.

Mix all the ingredients

Once you have gathered your ingredients, get a cup big enough to hold all the liquids and the ice. Add the coffee into the container, followed by the condensed milk.

Next, stir your coffee vigorously to ensure that the sweetened condensed milk mixes perfectly with it.

Pour the coffee mixture into the ice

Thailand is a hot and humid country, so you need to serve this coffee over ice. Get a glass, fill it with ice, and pour your coffee and condensed milk mixture into the ice for some coldness.

Make sure to leave some room for the heavy cream, so your glass does not overflow.

Add the heavy cream and serve

For the final step, all you need to do is to add the evaporated milk or heavy cream to the iced coffee. This will create a gorgeous marbling, making the coffee look even more delicious when you serve it.

Making Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnamese iced coffee
Vietnamese iced coffee consists of either sweetened condensed milk or plain milk and sugar.

You will need:

  • 4 teaspoons of Vietnamese coffee
  • 2 teaspoons condensed milk (or plain milk and sugar)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ice

Brew your coffee

If you have a phin coffee filter at home, then you will have an authentic Vietnamese iced coffee experience. But if you cannot get a hold of this coffee tool, you can use your regular coffee dripper for the process.

For the process, you will also need Vietnamese coffee ground brands, such as Trung Nguyen and Cafe du Monde. These coffee brands are the perfect option for your Vietnamese coffee. Simply brew 4 tablespoons of coffee grounds using boiling water for 60 to 90 seconds.

Prepare the condensed milk

While the coffee grounds are brewing, get a heatproof glass and pour 2 teaspoons of condensed milk into it.

Once the coffee finishes brewing, pour it into the condensed milk and stir vigorously.

Serve over ice

Now that the coffee and condensed milk are thoroughly combined add ice to it, stir, and enjoy!

Thai Vs Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Some Interesting Facts

iced coffee

Thai and Vietnamese coffee are both fascinating blends with similar ingredients and preparation. While people sometimes confuse one for the other, there are interesting facts that separate Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee.


Thai Iced Coffee

Thai iced coffee is one of the famous beverages among a lot of foreign tourists. It is renowned as Oleang or Oliang in Thai — a name derived from the Teochew dialect.

Notably, the Teochew dialect is a language that Thai Chinese speak. This indicates that the Oliang came from China.

Oliang is the combination of two words, “o,” which means “black,” and “liang,” which translates to “cold.” That said, Oliang means black iced coffee.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnam’s coffee scene began when French and Dutch colonial settlers started coffee plantations in the country in the 18th century. The French also introduced the Vietnamese iced coffee’s key ingredient — sweetened condensed milk.

The French colonial settlers brought sweetened condensed milk with them as they had a hard time finding fresh milk in Vietnam since the culture there did not depend on milk.

Caffeine Content

Thai iced coffee contains approximately 100 to 150 mg of caffeine. This caffeine content makes Thai iced coffee a good brain stimulant and energizer.

Vietnamese iced coffee has a higher caffeine content as it uses the strong Robusta beans for its coffee base. A 6-ounce cup of Vietnamese iced coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine, so it is a lot stronger than Thai iced coffee.


A cup of plain black coffee only contains less than 5 calories. But since Thai iced coffee has sweetened condensed milk or sometimes milk and sugar, its calorie content rises to 90 to 150 calories, depending on how much sweetener you add to it.

Vietnamese iced coffee has a bit higher calories since it has heavy cream apart from condensed milk. A cup of this coffee contains 155 calories, a bit higher than Thai iced coffee.

iced coffee
Differentiating Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee will help you find out about their origin.

Final Thoughts

Visually, Thai vs Vietnamese iced coffee looks the same in appearance but their taste vary widely in terms of their ingredients and preparation.

Thai iced coffee uses coffee grounds and spices, while Vietnamese iced coffee uses Robusta coffee.

They also differ in origin: Thai iced coffee came from China, while French and Dutch settlers introduced the other.

With all that’s said, we hope that we answered your coffee questions through this article. Feel free to share this with your friends so you can make coffee together!

Also Read: 32 Coffee Pairing Ideas With Food