What Is Vietnamese Coffee & What Does It Taste Like?

Wondering what Vietnamese coffee is and what it tastes like? Here’s what you want to know. 

Vietnamese coffee is coffee brewed in a Phin (Vietnamese coffee filter) with dark roasted Robusta beans. It’s often served in small quantities of 2-2.5 oz./60-75 ml. with condensed milk and ice. It tastes bitter, sweet and is thick. 

Let’s dive in a little deeper about what Vietnamese coffee is and how it tastes. 

What Is Vietnamese Coffee? 

Vietnamese coffee is coffee brewed in a Phin (Vietnamese coffee filter) with dark roasted Robusta beans. It’s often served in small quantities of 2-2.5 oz./60-75 ml. It is sometimes drank black with sugar but often it’s mixed with condensed milk and ice. 

If you’re looking for a step by step guide to make good Vietnamese coffee, click here.

Technically Vietnamese coffee could also be any coffee brewed with beans from Vietnam or any coffee brewed in Vietnam but that’s not what’s generally meant with ‘Vietnamese Coffee’. When people say Vietnamese coffee, they almost always mean a thick, dark coffee that’s brewed in a Phin with mostly Robusta beans.

Since it’s brewed with Robusta beans, the amount of caffeine is quite high compared to regular coffee since most drip coffee is made with Arabica coffee which has about half the amount of caffeine. 

To brew Vietnamese coffee the proper way you need a Phin. This is a metal cup with small holes in the bottom. This filter is placed on the cup the coffee is drank from. The coffee used in a Phin is ground quite fine but not so fine that it can get through the holes. 

Suggested: What is a Phin and how to use it

It can take up to 6-7 minutes before all the water has flowed through the bed of coffee. Vietnamese coffee is not to be drank in a hurry. In Vietnam you can see countless coffee shops lining the streets with people enjoying the process of waiting for and drinking their coffee. 

What Does Vietnamese Coffee Taste Like? 

Vietnamese coffee when drank black tastes quite strong, thick and bitter. Since Robusta beans are usually used, the taste notes when drank black are; dark, burnt, rubbery and dark chocolate. That’s why it’s usually not drank black. At a minimum sugar is added but most of the time it’s combined with condensed milk. 

Combined with condensed milk it tones down the bitter notes and obviously makes everything very sweet. It also makes it very thick. Vietnamese coffee brewed correctly is quite thick which works well with the thick condensed milk. Served with ice it makes a kind of coffee milkshake. Sometimes some kind of starch is added to make it even thicker.

In the places in Vietnam where it’s always hot, it’s almost always served iced but in some locations with a colder climate it’s also served warm. 

Many coffees you can buy in Vietnam have extra flavors added. Commonly added flavorings are vanilla, cacao and rum but others are possible as well. 

Coffees where extra flavors are added are often lower quality ones. They use very cheap beans and they just don’t taste great. That’s why they are roasted very dark (this reduces the origin taste) and artificial flavors are added later on to make it taste good. The higher quality the coffee is, the less artificial flavors are added. Be that as it may, they taste good, especially with condensed milk. 

Suggested: Why does Vietnamese coffee taste so sweet?

A coffee purist might shiver at the idea of mixing all those things in your coffee but in the end, it’s about enjoying your drink and Vietnamese iced milk coffee is definitely enjoyable. 


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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