Coffee history of Vietnam

If you’re going to Vietnam anytime soon, you’ve probably noticed that coffee always pops up whenever you search for Vietnam. That’s because the country is the second biggest exporters of coffee in the entire world, just after Brazil. But how did Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia, become one of the biggest coffee producers? Here’s the coffee history of Vietnam:

Coffee goes way back to when Vietnam was colonized by the French. It was in fact the French who introduced it to the Vietnamese in 1857, when they also began to provide Vietnam with other aspects of their own cuisine. Still today, you can see that many of the popular food and drinks in Vietnam are French inspired. For example, the popular ‘banh mi’ street food, which is a filled baguette, was influenced by the French. But it wasn’t until the 1950s when the Vietnamese began to see coffee as a serious production. Although other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Laos and Cambodia, were earlier to contribute in the coffee trade, it’s Vietnam that ultimately became the continent’s top producer of coffee.

However, shortly after, the war came. This left the Vietnamese economy in shambles and many people were struggling at this period. But the country started to institute aggressive agricultural reforms and by the 90s, the coffee industry in Vietnam was flourishing again. Today, coffee is a huge source of income to the Vietnamese and it’s estimated that the coffee production employs over 2 million people. In 2013, coffee exports accounted for about 2% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 17% of all commodity exports.

There’s two main coffee beans – robusta and arabica. Arabica is known for being the better bean, that produces a stronger and more robust flavor. However, in Vietnam, 95% are robusta plants. Vietnam provides half of all robusta grown in the world.  This often leads to the notion that the Vietnamese coffee is of worse quality. But this is far from the case. If you’ve ever been to Vietnam and tasted the local coffee, you’ll know how incredibly delicious it is. And even if most coffee is from robusta, you’ll still find plenty of coffee plantations, mainly in Da Lat, that grows arabica.

So now when you know a bit about the coffee history of Vietnam, let’s check out the coffee types that you must indulge in when you’re there.

The Vietnamese drip coffee

The most iconic and classic coffee you’ll find in Vietnam. It’s basically hot Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk, which gives it a more creamy taste. You can find this literally everywhere and you’ll see that locals usually prefer to drink drip coffee. But the younger crowd in Vietnam however, is a bit more adventurous with their coffee. Take for example…

Coconut coffee

This sweet and fresh coffee is a hit amongst the younger crowd, perhaps because it’s not as strong as the regular drip coffee. It’s basically coffee with coconut milk in it and perhaps some condensed milk, depending on how sweet you like it. It’s a must if you’re traveling in Vietnam.

Egg coffee

If you’re ever going on a tour in Hanoi, this is one of the things they’ll introduce you to – the famous egg coffee. At first glance, it may sound absolutely horrid. Egg… in coffee?! But once you get your hands on it, it might be hard to not order it every single day. The egg coffee tastes more like a dessert than anything. It’s traditionally prepared with egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar and robusta coffee. Yum!

Yoghurt coffee

Another interesting type of coffee you can get in Vietnam. This drink was actually introduced by the French, who blended creamy yoghurt with black Vietnamese coffee. The results? A very creamy texture in your coffee.

Try it just black

The Vietnamese coffee is typically very strong, so if you’re not a big fan of strong coffee, you should probably go with any of the above options. But for those who likes their coffee black and strong, just order a plain coffee to enjoy with a Vietnamese sweet.


Do you feel more interested in going to Vietnam now? That’s great to hear! There’s more to Vietnam than just delicious coffee, but it’s definitely one of the main attractions. You have white sand beaches, rolling hills, majestic mountains, colorful towns, lively cities, rice paddies as far as the eye can see, a fascinating culture, history, and so much more. Vietnam is a must visit destination!

Please remember to check if you need a visa before you enter the country. Most nationalities are required to obtain a Vietnam visa, however, there’s a few exceptions. If you do have to apply for a visa, there’s three ways: Visa on Arrival, E-Visa or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. Please read carefully through all the visa options to see which one is most suitable for you.

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