The Best Vietnamese Coffee – 5 Top Picks
Alright, let’s get one thing straight. Vietnamese coffee isn’t exactly known as the highest quality coffee out there. This is because the brew is often made from Robusta beans, which are usually used to make instant coffee.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of wonder in the ‘burnt rubber’ Robusta hell. Having been to Vietnam (VN) many times, I realize the best Vietnamese Coffee comes from small roasters, who source sustainable and local beans which are grown with care.
My favorite coffee Vietnamese wise fits this bill perfectly, and no, it isn’t Trung Nguyen (the Starbucks of Vietnam). If you’re ready, let’s begin with my top pick for the best Vietnamese coffee:
Alternatives At A Glance
Strong, dark and full bodied.
Why is Vietnamese Coffee So Strong?
One thing you’ll hear about Vietnamese coffee is that it’s incredibly strong.
That’s because most of their beans are robusta beans. These grow in lowland areas and develop more caffeine to repel insects.
Arabica beans grow in highland areas, and thus have less caffeine and develop more flavors and sugars for a sweeter, and brighter coffee.
Due to its high caffeine content, robusta coffee can come out dark and bitter. A brew from Robusta beans is often classed as inferior and burnt. There’s also the fact most Robusta is grown at scale and without care. It’s for this reason too that people in Vietnam usually add condensed milk to their brew.
But there’s more to the best Vietnamese coffee than just your regular old commercial scale robusta beans as you’ll soon find out! So let’s dive in and find out what the best Vietnamese coffee in the market is.
The 5 Best Vietnamese Coffee Picks
Nguyen Coffee Supply is like your local hipster coffee roaster, but the founder is from Vietnam, and she focuses on importing the best Vietnamese coffee and roasting it locally in NYC.
By working directly with small farmers from both the central region (Robusta) and highlands (Arabica) Sahra Nguyen (the founder) is CRUSHING it! Even Forbes and Fortune agree that Nguyen is leading a new dawn for Vietnamese brews and the status quo is changing.
This beauty is named Loyalty, and it’s hands down the best Vietnamese coffee you can find in the states. It’s a medium roasted coffee blend of Vietnamese Robusta and arabica beans. It’s worth noting that Nguyen Coffee Supply roasts the two varieties separately. This way, they’re able to maximize the flavor in both types before mixing them.
The result is that classic robusta kick, decorated with bright and complex flavors from the Arabica. This coffee has notes of cacao, pomelo, almond, and smoked caramel. It’s full-bodied, and also has a great mouthfeel.
Overall, this premium blend makes for a very delectable cup of joe.
Alright, I’ve given traditional Robusta a hard time earlier. Nonetheless, there’s a time and a place for everything.
If you’re looking for the traditional cà phê đá (iced coffee), then Grit might be the best Vietnamese coffee for you. Like Loyalty, these coffee beans are roasted locally in NYC.
If you thought normal Robusta was strong, wait until you try Nguyen’s peaberry robusta! It has twice the caffeine content of Arabica beans for a full-bodied, punchy Vietnamese coffee. It also has tasting notes of scotch, grapefruit zest, and bitter melon.
This is the traditional Vietnamese brew you’re likely familiar with. You’ll love these beans if you have a preference for strong-tasting, hard-hitting coffee.
There’s nothing quite like this Vietnam coffee when it comes to a caffeine kick!
Want the best Vietnamese coffee but need some variety? This Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio from Nguyen Coffee Supply could be the ideal purchase for you.
The variety-pack has Nguyen’s premium blend (Loyalty), 100% robusta coffee (Grit), and 100% arabica beans (Courage). Compared to the other two, Courage has a brighter taste profile and sweeter body. It has decadent notes of wild berries, chocolate, cherry, and honey.
I like this option because it allows you to compare and contrast Vietnamese arabica and Robusta. And you can also observe the effect of blending the two together.
Grind them and make your brew via a French press, cold brew, and phin coffee, and see which one you enjoy the most!
These beans are a sneak peek into the growing scene for specialty coffee in Vietnam. ChestBrew has access to one of the few high-tech roasting facilities in Southeast Asia. So, you can count on this 100% single origin arabica coffee to be of premium quality.
Strong, dark and full bodied.
These beans are also dark roasted, so this Vietnamese coffee is strong but smooth and full of flavor. It doesn’t have the bitter, burnt flavors common in many dark roasts. And because of that, it’s great for using as cold brew or iced coffee!
Just be aware, it’ l likely have been roasted a while ago, unfortunately.
These robusta beans are sourced from Dak Lak, one of Vietnam’s largest coffee-growing regions. And yes, you read that right: these beans are roasted in butter. What? Butter? ..Yup! The result? A velvety rich, flavorful cup of coffee.
The fact that this is ground coffee means it will age faster than whole beans. But if you just want to taste authentic Vietnamese coffee at home, these beans by VN roaster will definitely hit the spot!
While the practice of roasting in butter is uncommon in many parts of the world, it’s a Saigon classic and helps give these Vietnamese coffee beans their unique flavor profile. The aroma of these butter roasted beans is sure to transport you to the streets of Ho Chi Minh, sipping the best Vietnamese coffee!
A Guide to Vietnamese Coffee
Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world. But they’re not exactly known for the quality of their coffee. More than 90% of the coffee grown in Vietnam are robusta beans.
But the coffee of choice for the Vietnamese isn’t instant coffee, but phin coffee. A phin functions like a dripper with no paper filter. Just add hot water, and it allows you to make drip coffee with a full body similar to that of French press coffee.
That’s because there’s no paper filter to absorb the oils from your ground coffee, so they all go straight to your cup. Yum!
But most robusta beans are roasted really dark to mask their unpleasant flavors. After all, it’s hard to expect much from beans that will be used for instant coffee.
Roasting dark can make the extracted coffee taste bitter and unpleasant. The bitterness of their coffee beans is also the reason why Vietnamese coffee, also known as cà phê sữa đá, involves adding condensed milk to your brew.
There is a growing specialty coffee scene in Vietnam, where they’re trying to elevate Vietnamese coffee beans’ quality by growing different arabica varieties.
Vietnamese Coffees are More Than Robusta
In Dalat city, locally-grown arabicas have consistently been given scores above 80 points by Q Graders or people who grade coffees as specialty or non-specialty.
80 points are the minimum to be considered a specialty coffee. As a result, while this ‘progression’ is new, some of the arabica growing in Vietnam is specialty-grade.
Who knows, maybe instead of dominating the instant coffee market, Vietnam may become more established in Arabica!
Trung Nguyen Coffee
Trung Nguyen is the dominant brand when it comes to a cuppa Joe in Vietnam. In my opinion, it’s far from the best Vietnamese coffee – instead, it’s your usual chain.
The owners of Trung Nguyen saw an opportunity to become a producer of world-class Vietnamese coffee in the 1990s as the scene developed, and Vietnam became friendlier to export from.
Not long after, Trung Nguyen started a franchise of coffee houses and became the most established producer of Vietnamese coffee. But while their coffee is known and exported globally, Trung Nguyen beans are often no longer fresh by the time they land in the U.S.
Consequently, we don’t recommend buying Trung Nguyen for the best experience.
My choice for the best Vietnamese coffee is Nguyen Coffee Supply’s Loyalty coffee.
It’s roasted in NYC, and it will definitely satisfy your craving for that traditional VN coffee taste you’re looking for, albeit with less of a full on Robusta wallop. At the same time, it’s the perfect way to introduce yourself to the wonderful world of arabica coffee from Vietnam!
Ahmed Mir is the founder of Sip Coffee House. If he isn’t working, you can probably find him experimenting with different brewing methods, hanging out outdoors, or traveling.