Vietnamese Coffee – History and Explanations

Vietnam is one of the most popular travel destinations in Southeast Asia and delights its guests with its special coffee. Vietnamese coffee is sometimes also called cà phe phin or ca phe đỏ denotes what is the native designation.

Many experts appreciate this coffee for its unique taste and noble aroma. The beans, which are grown on numerous plantations in Vietnam, give the drink a variety of flavors, such as chocolate, citrus, caramel and nuts. In addition, its aroma is often cited as the most balanced in the world.

History of Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee was brought to Vietnam by French missionary priests in the second half of the 19th century. First, they planted Arabica bushes in the northern province of Hà Nam.

At the same time, the French colonial government had big plans for exporting the drink, so plantations soon sprang up in the southern and central regions of the country. However, it turned out that Arabica coffee varieties are difficult to root in the local climatic conditions. In addition, they are very susceptible to pests and therefore only provide low yields.

For this reason, since 1908, a new species of this plant, the robusta, has been planted in the country. This type of coffee quickly proved itself in the local climatic conditions. Between 1910 and 1911 there was a significant development of coffee-growing areas. The central highlands in the province of Dak Lak became the main geographic center of coffee cultivation in the country.

The development of the coffee industry was significantly hampered by the events of World War II, the struggle against the French colonial administration and the Vietnam War, which lasted from 1957 to 1975.

Thus, began a new era in the country’s coffee industry in the 1980s. The Doi Moi reform passed in 1986 opened up the national economy and integrated it into the world economy. As a result, coffee has become the second most important food item sold in foreign markets, after rice.

Alternate History

Another story has it that in the early 19th century, a French Catholic priest named Father Domet was traveling in Vietnam when a local chief poured him a cup of coffee.

Father Domet was so impressed with the brew that he took some beans back to France. From there, the beans made their way to coffee plantations in Martinique and Haiti, where they were used to make a new type of coffee, Café Noir. In the years that followed, black coffee became very popular in Vietnam.

Types of coffee beans in Vietnam

The differences between the different beans make a big difference in the taste of Vietnamese coffee. Below are the types of beans grown in this corner of Southeast Asia.

Robusta coffee in Vietnam

About 90% of the country’s acreage is planted with Robusta. This type of coffee is known for its considerable bitterness and aroma. In addition, Robusta beans contain a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans.

Some consider the local Robusta to be one of the best coffees in the world in terms of quality. It has a milder flavor than African Robusta, and its bitterness and acidity are tempered by nutty and spicy notes.

One of the most popular types of coffee is the so-called Blue Dragon, which impresses with its unusual notes of roasted bread, cocoa and pistachios. At the same time, the Sang Tao variety is valued for its unusual taste, natural sweetness and chocolate aroma.

Arabica coffee in Vietnam

In contrast, only about 10% of the total area under cultivation is used for Arabica. These areas are very popular because of the rare varieties grown there. In the province of Lam Dong, the Typica variety is cultivated, which is considered the progenitor of all other varieties.

Beverages made from these beans are often notable for their lack of excessive bitterness or acidity, as well as a citrus aftertaste.

Arabica coffee varieties in Vietnam

Lam Dong Province is also known for the Bourbon strains and the dwarf mutation Mocha. The former is characterized by a sophisticated wine aroma and sweet aftertaste, while the latter is known as a gourmand cocktail with notes of dark chocolate and hazelnuts.

Liberica coffee in Vietnam

The species Liberica and its variety Excelsa, also known as cherry or jackfruit, are considered to be the rarest in the world. These plants produce irregular fruits and are difficult to grow on an industrial scale.

The beans are most commonly used to make premium coffees because they add a fruity aroma and dense, bold flavor to the brewed beverage.

Kopi Luwak

Kopi Luwak, often referred to as Chon in this country, is probably the most exotic and expensive variety in the world due to the way it is made. Arabica and Robusta beans are consumed by Asian civets, who select the best cherries. The beans are fermented in the animal’s gastrointestinal tract and released naturally. They are harvested, thoroughly washed, dried and roasted in a unique way.


CuLi is a combination of handpicked Arabica and Robusta beans of the highest quality. It is based in the city of Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Province Lak, produced in very limited quantities. This strain is valued for its rich and intense aroma, as well as its dense flavor and distinct aftertaste.

What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Different?

One of the differences between Vietnamese coffee and coffee from the rest of the world is the richness of flavor. Vietnamese coffee is usually made from dark roasted beans. Other ingredients such as condensed milk or sugar are mixed in to give the coffee a sweeter taste that differs significantly from that of regular coffee.

Another difference is the way Vietnamese coffee is prepared. You use a small Vietnamese coffee filter, also called a phin, and put ground coffee in the filter. Then the hot water is slowly poured over the ground coffee and the coffee drips out slowly, creating an aromatic cup of coffee.

Why is Vietnamese coffee so strong?

Compared to a traditional cup of coffee made in a French Press or AeroPress, Vietnamese coffee has a much higher caffeine content. An 8-ounce cup of Vietnamese coffee has a caffeine content of 265 mg. This is equivalent to 4 cups of espresso. Vietnamese coffee is strong for several reasons.

Roasting time

The roasting time is one of the main reasons why Vietnamese coffee beans are so strong. The beans are roasted longer, resulting in a stronger flavor. In addition, the beans are ground very finely, allowing more of the coffee’s natural oils to be extracted.

Robusta coffee beans

Vietnamese coffee is typically made from Robusta beans, known for their high caffeine content. Due to the Robusta beans, Vietnamese coffee is usually much stronger than other types of coffee.

Brewed with a Phin filter

Vietnamese coffee is brewed using a phin filter, a traditional brewing method that takes longer than other methods, such as B. brewing with a drop.

This manual brewing method allows the coffee to extract more flavor from the beans, resulting in a stronger cup of coffee.

Culture of coffee drinking in Vietnam

Coffee has long been an integral part of local culture. There is no such thing as a quick coffee drinking culture. It is customary to sip coffee slowly while reading the newspaper or chatting with friends and acquaintances.

On the other hand, it is not easy to find the espresso, latte or cappuccino that many tourists love. You can only try them at Starbucks or local coffee chains that offer traditional drinks like Phuc Long, Trung Nguyen, Highlands Coffee and The Coffee House.

The best types of coffee to try

There are 4 traditional recipes that you should definitely try if you’re traveling across the country or want to experiment at home.

Iced coffee with milk (Cà phe sữa đá)

Most often, this coffee is made from Robusta, whose bitterness and acidity are perfectly balanced by the sweet condensed milk. In the north of the country, this drink is on the menu “Cà phe nâu”. In addition to the classic ice cream service, it is also served as a hot drink.

Coffee with eggs (Cà phe trứng)

Egg coffee is a popular drink in northern Vietnam, especially in Hanoi. During the French conflict and the colonial era, Vietnam lacked many resources as the colonialists mainly mined them for their own profit. In 1946, there was a shortage of milk, so people couldn’t drink latte and had to find other methods to enjoy their drink.

Egg coffee is made from fresh raw egg yolks and condensed milk. Used more as a dessert than a drink, it can be served warm or cold.

Coconut coffee (Cà phe dừa)

Strong black coffee is blended with coconut and condensed milk. Ice cream is not a mandatory ingredient, but locals prefer it in their drink. This coffee is quite sweet and leaves a sweet coconut taste in the mouth.


Vietnamese coffee is considered one of the best coffees in the world. It is usually made from finely ground, dark roasted coffee beans, sweetened with condensed milk and brewed in a phin.

Coffee is also an integral part of Vietnamese culture. With the creativity and constant learning of the producers and baristas, the Vietnamese coffee brand can in future spread all over the world.