What Makes Vietnam Coffee Unique ?

When you heard of Robusta Coffee, the countries Brazil, Colombia, and even South African nations will most likely come to your mind, but do you know that Vietnam is the second-largest producer and exporter of Robusta coffee in the world? Recent reports show that coffee production now accounts for 15% of Vietnam’s total agricultural exports and 14.2% of the global coffee export market share, second to industry powerhouse Brazil.

According to the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnam exports domestic coffee products to over 80 countries and territories worldwide; The EU is currently the largest consumer of Vietnamese coffee; the study shows that a quarter of coffee drunk in the UK comes from Vietnam. However, Robusta beans have not penetrated North America yet. Due to its intensely bitter taste, it is not very appealing to the Western palate.

The cafe culture in Vietnam is flourishing. There is a cafe on just about every corner. Yes, that’s right! Any time of the day, you will see people mingling and chatting over a cup of coffee. While coffee chains such as Highland Coffee and other modern-style coffee shops have grown in popularity, Locals and tourists alike still patronize traditional sidewalk cafes.

So what makes Vietnam coffee so unique? 

1. Robusta coffee beans.

Arabica beans contain between 1% to 1.5% caffeine while Robusta has between 1.6% to 2.7% caffeine, making it taste bitterer.

2. Condensed milk.

The condensed milk and strong coffee are what set the Vietnamese style coffee apart. In the 1940s, there was a dairy shortage, causing people to use condensed milk in their coffee instead of fresh milk.

3. Usage of “Phin.”

A phin (pronounced: fin) is the Vietnamese word for a French drip filter, which is typically made of metal and sits on top of the cup, similar to an Aeropress. Ground beans go into a phin. Pressed down with a thin lid. Add hot water to slowly trickles through into the cup.

4. Crafted Flavours.

Aside from adding condensed milk, Vietnamese also crafted complex flavors by adding yogurt, fruits – and even egg yolks.

  • Yogurt coffee (sua chua ca phe) Rich and creamy, it’s served with various toppings, from fresh mango to fermented rice – and even coffee.
  • Egg coffee (ca phe trung) Egg yolk whipped with condensed milk into an airy froth meets dark coffee.
  • Coffee smoothie (sinh to ca phe) Creamy blends of fresh fruit like banana or avocado with a touch of Vietnamese coffee.

Here are some coffee names and terms you need to know when traveling to Vietnam: 

  • Ca phe den da: Iced black coffee
  • Ca phe den (da) khong duong: Black coffee hot (or cold) without sugar
  • Ca phe nong: Hot black coffee
  • Ca phe sua nong: Hot coffee with sweet condensed milk
  • Ca phe trung: like a cappuccino, except with the addition of an egg or two
  • Some words in Vietnamese use for order your customized coffee.

Ca phe (pronounced the same as in English – “cafe”): coffee

  • Nong: hot
  • Da: cold/iced
  • Den: black
  • Sua (Nau in the North): milk
  • Duong: sugar
  • Sua tuoi: fresh milk

Buon Ma Thuot, the metropolis of Dak Lak province and the largest city in the Central Highlands, is also the country’s coffee capital.  The ideal time to visit is during March; it is the month of coffee flowers and harvest season. If you are a coffee enthusiast and fascinated with the coffee processing industry, a visit to Trung Nguyen Coffee Village is a must. A pack of coffee beans from Trung Nguyen is a great souvenir, as this is the number #1 brand in the country.

Aside from vast coffee fields, you can also visit Dray Sap waterfall, Dray Nur waterfall, Gia Long waterfall, Don village, Ea Kao lake, Thuy Tien waterfall, King Bao Dai private palace and the stunning beauty of the legendary river Seropok.

How to get there?

You can reach Buon Ma Thuot via domestic flights from any major international airports in Vietnam. Currently, at all international airports in Vietnam, there is a service to support all Immigration procedures and fast track service. For a fuss-free entry to Vietnam, visit search for Vietnam Airport Support for more details.

Before your intended arrival, make sure to sort out your visa. Visit Vietnam Immigration to check if you can enter Vietnam without a visa or if you are qualified for e-visa or a visa on arrival for a small fee.

The airport is nine kilometers from the city center. Travel by air from Ho Chi Minh City takes 1 hour. The cost is $25-$70, depending on the season. You can also take a sleeper bus or minivan to Dak Lak from Ho Chi Minh City. It would take 8 hours to get there, and the cost is between $8-$16. For more details, how to get there. Please click here.