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Thai Vs Vietnamese Iced Coffee: What’s The Difference?

Thai iced coffee and Vietnamese iced coffee can seem very similar to each other and are sometimes interchanged with each other in a few areas, which can lead to some confusion between the two iced coffees. So, what are the differences between the two?

Thai iced coffee and Vietnamese iced coffee are made from strong, dark coffee beans, but they are brewed using different methods. Thai iced coffee is brewed using a coffee sock filter. Vietnamese iced coffee is brewed using a phin. Thai iced coffee also adds in spices that the other coffee does not.

These two iced coffees may look similar in appearance in most countries, but what exactly makes them different from each other? And how are these two iced coffees meant to be made traditionally? Let us go through these questions and more.

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The Difference Between These Two Iced Coffees

For most people, coffee is just simply coffee, while for the more avid coffee lovers, they just need to smell these two coffees to distinguish between the two. So, for us normal folks, what is the difference between Thai iced coffee and Vietnamese iced coffee?

The truth is that these two coffees are actually quite similar to each other. They both share a similar serving style, strength, and they do have a similar taste. However, even with these similarities, they do have some significant differences that make them unique and can help you tell them apart quite easily.

To know and understand these differences, we need to go over each iced coffee separately. We will go through what ingredients are used to make each one, as well as the different coffee-making processes that make these two coffees quite different from each other.

Thai Iced Coffee

Traditional Thai coffee

Thai iced coffee is a delicious drink that is perfect for a hot summer’s day. Thai iced coffee is referred to as Oliang in Thailand, with this translating to black iced coffee in English. Thai iced coffee is made using coffee beans that are of a strong and dark roast to give it a bold flavor with the ever-great coffee kick that most people look for in coffee.

In the traditional recipes for Thai iced coffee, they serve the coffee black, and they only use sugar to sweeten the drink.

While more modern-day Thai iced coffee recipes call for sweetened condensed milk to be added to the coffee, which makes the drink sweet but also changes the color of the drink, going against the traditions of what this coffee is actually supposed to be; a black iced coffee. 

Thai iced coffee has some spices added into it to give it a lovely, refreshing taste, with the main spice that is used being cardamom. These spices are usually placed directly into the ground coffee beans before the coffee is brewed to make sure that the flavor of the spices is released sufficiently into the drink. 

Thai coffee in drinking jar

Some other ingredients that are added to Thai iced coffee also include sesame seeds, soybeans, and a mixture of corn. These all come together in a lovely, strong, and rich flavor that is unique to this coffee drink.

The filter that is used to make traditional Thai iced coffee is called a tungdtom or a coffee sock filter. This filter is basically a cotton bag attached to a metal handle. The ground coffee beans and the spices are then placed into the cotton bag, and hot water is poured through it.

Then the coffee will begin to drip through the bottom of the bag into a heat-resistant cup. This brewing process should take about five minutes to complete, then you add ice and sugar to your taste and enjoy.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Making alternative vietnamese coffee

Vietnamese iced coffee is a deliciously sweet drink that is great for long summer days. This drink does share a few similarities with Thai iced coffee. This coffee is also made using a strong and dark roast coffee, with the two main differences in coffee beans is where they come from and the Vietnamese coffee traditionally using an espresso coffee bean.

In traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, only two ingredients are used to make the coffee. These ingredients are coffee beans and sweetened condensed milk. Once the coffee is brewed, it is placed over ice to cool the drink.

In some modern recipes for this iced coffee, they add in some unusual ingredients, such as yogurt or egg yolks. These ingredients are said to give the coffee an interesting but pleasant flavor profile.

Vietnamese iced coffee is also brewed in a different method and using a different brewing tool when compared to Thai iced coffee. Vietnamese iced coffee is traditionally brewed with a special French drip filter that is called a phin.

A phin is a metal filter that you place the ground coffee beans inside, and then hot water is poured through the metal filter. The coffee will then slowly begin to trickle through the filter and into the heat-resistant cup underneath it.

Once all of the hot water has made its way through the filter, the coffee has finished brewing. The coffee is then felt for a few minutes to cool off and then sweetened condensed milk is added, and the drink is poured over ice.

Which One Is Best For Your Tastes

The iced coffee that will best suit your tastes depends on what you are looking for and what your personal preferences are for how you like your coffees.

If you are a person who prefers a nice strong coffee that is not too sweet or that is not sweet at all, and you would like to stick to how the coffee is traditionally made, then the Thai iced coffee may suit your tastes very well.

If you would rather enjoy a sweet coffee but still want to stick to the coffee’s roots, then then the Vietnamese iced coffee may be the one for you.

If you want to enjoy both of these coffees, but you want your own coffee preferences with both, then that is also an option as you can add in sweated condensed milk to the Thai iced coffee, or you can leave the condensed milk out of the Vietnamese coffee. Both of these methods are enjoyed around the world just as much as the recipes that stick to the coffee’s traditions.

So, Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced coffee can look the same if they are not made the traditional way. But no matter how they appear, they are quite different from each other as they are made from coffee beans that are source in different areas, and they are brewed using different methods.

Both of these coffees are delicious and should be tried by every coffee lover in both the traditional way and the way that suits your personal preferences. Enjoy your coffee drinking experience!