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An avid coffee lover just needs a whiff of these brews and tell you which one’s which. However, for most folks, a cup of coffee is just ‘coffee’. The truth is that Thai iced coffee and Vietnamese iced coffee share lots of similar traits when it comes to the strength, serving styles and taste of the beverage.
Nonetheless, there are some striking differences that do set them apart.
The article will shed some light on the main differences between Thai and Vietnamese coffee. We’ll also brush up your knowledge of the coffee culture in both regions to provide you an in-depth knowledge of these global coffee capitals.
Here’s everything you need to know about Thai and Vietnamese coffee:
Let’s look at the major differences between Thai and Vietnamese coffee:
For starters, the primary difference between Thai and Vietnamese coffee is in the way it’s filtered. Typically, the people of Thailand use a traditional filter called tungdtom to process coffee. On the other hand, Vietnamese coffee is processed with the help of a metal-filter called phin.
You can find out more about how to use these filters in the next section.
Last update on 2023-09-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Which one’s sweeter?
The right answer to this would be Vietnamese coffee. That’s because their recipes usually use sweet condensed milk as their sweetener instead of milk and sugar. In contrast, Thai coffeemakers stick to simple milk and sugar (preferably brown) for their recipes.
Why does Vietnamese coffee include sweetened condensed milk? It’s said that this practice can be traced back to the era of French colonialism. At that time, milk was quite scarce so they substituted it with sweetened condensed milk.
Most coffeehouses follow this tradition in the present day and age.
We recently stumbled upon this interesting question on Trip Advisor. The inquirer asked whether or not they could get egg coffee in Thailand. The short answer to this question would be: no.
Like someone pointed out in the thread, egg coffee was created in Hanoi. That’s why its introduction to the world is still limited. Subsequently, travelers won’t find this Vietnamese delicacy in the menus of a Thai café.
Is egg coffee only found in Vietnam?
Not necessarily. Your friendly barista might whip up a creamy egg coffee for you. Nevertheless, it might not have the same taste as a traditional Vietnamese coffee.
Which one’s healthier?
A regular cup of black coffee contains less than 5 calories. The calorie content increases as soon as you pour in the milk and sugar to the blend. Taking this into consideration, Thai coffee will be healthier than its Vietnamese counterpart.
That’s because Vietnamese iced coffee is layered with a calorie-dense concoction of condensed milk. You then top it up with additional sugar and other additives. On the other hand, Thai coffee is usually drunk without milk.
Apart from that, Thai iced coffee often contains soybeans, corn, and sesame seeds too. Consequently, these ingredients add to its nutritional content. So if you’re on a diet, then we’d suggest that you lay off the sweeteners and sip on the traditional brew of Thailand.
Did you know? Thailand is the 3rd highest coffee producer in Asia.
Here’s a breakdown of the coffee industry in Thailand:
For centuries, the people of Thailand roasted and sipped on fresh Robusta and Arabian coffee in isolation. Then in the 1970s, King Bhumibol Adulyadej decided to bring Thai coffee to the international market.
Initially, the coffee venture was a simple project to employ local communities in the poor regions of the country. However, the king soon realized that the scope of coffee production went beyond employment statistics. That’s when he doubled up on the export projects.
By 1976, Thailand became a promising player in the global coffee trade. According to many sources, coffee production in Thailand is distributed to be 99% Robusta variety and 1% Arabica coffee. Most of these coffee beans are quickly send off to the rest of the world.
The Lonely Planet dubs Chiang-Mai as Thailand’s coffee capital. The city is dotted with cafes and roadside coffee carts. We can bet that 9 out of 10 of these hotspots served Oliang as their signature variety.
Oliang is Thailand’s favorite way to drink coffee. The literal meaning of the name is ‘black iced coffee’. The name itself tells us that Thai iced coffee is strong in flavor.
How is it made?
Thailand’s specialty has lots of renditions. Yet, most recipes include a delicious blend of roasted coffee beans with a nutritious mix of corn, sesame seeds, cardamom, and soybeans. All of which gives it a rich dark color.
The main steps include a charcoal fire and authentic coffee filter (tungdtom). The filter has a metal ring and metal handle that’s attached to a sock-like cotton bag. You place the roasted beans inside the bag and then pour the hot water through it. As a result, the freshly filtered coffee starts dripping out of the filter.
However, most modern recipes skip the charcoal fire and the special filter in their instructions.
Vietnam holds the spot for the second largest coffee producer in the world. The prestigious position is all thank to the French colonialists that invaded the area way back in the 19th century.
When it comes it coffee, Vietnam has seen its fair share of highs and lows. The region was first introduced to coffee beans in 1857. In those days, their coffee production was restricted to the plantations that were set up by French invaders.
Despite many difficulties, the country grew accustomed to harvesting Robusta variety. By 1950, they established their first instant coffee plantation.
The Vietnam War emerged as a major setback for the rising stars of Asia. Vietnams’ reemergence in as the coffee giants of the world was pretty slow. However, they gradually learned how to leverage their fertilized soils and unique styles to sell coffee to the rest of the world.
Coffee is typically taken with milk and sugar over your morning meal. Commercialized coffee, however, comes in various packages and flavors. However, Vietnamese coffee takes the first prize in innovation by brewing up a variety of versions of this beverage.
We’re talking about adding unusual ingredients like yogurt and egg yolk into the brew.
As crazy as it sounds, avid coffee lovers note that this inclusion makes for an interesting flavor profile.
Ca phe sua (milk coffee) is the most common way to drink coffee in Vietnam. Made from espresso coffee beans, the beverage has a decadent chocolaty flavor.
Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is made with a French drip filter called phin. You add the coffee beans inside the metal filter and then hot water is poured through the contraption. Gradually, the wonderful brown liquid starts trickling through the filter and into the cup.
Many coffee drinkers add sweetened condensed milk to their blends to dilute its strong taste.
Others might prefer to sip strong black coffee.
In a nutshell, Thai and Vietnamese coffee may look the same on the surface. This is owing to the fact that they are both served cold. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll realize that they can’t be interchanged.
The dissimilarities include different filtering methods (phin and tungdtom), sweeteners, and blends. Plus, the history of coffee production has also influenced their coffee-making styles.
While Thailand prefers to keep its traditions close, Vietnam has paved its own path via experiments. As a result, Vietnam has a more diverse variety of coffee recipes at their disposal when compared to other coffee nations.
So Vietnam or Thai coffee―which one would you prefer?