The Journey of Vietnamese Specialty Coffee: From Bean to Cup

Dive into the captivating journey of Vietnam specialty coffee, from the lush farms of Vietnam to your cup. Discover the art and tradition behind this beloved beverage.

People nowadays have acknowledged that Vietnam specialty coffee is no longer a hidden gem anymore. Nowadays, we can easily encounter accolades for Vietnamese coffee everywhere on news platforms, or social media. Most of them are top-tier positions in global exports or the inclusion in lists of countries with the world’s best coffee.

This article embarks on a Vietnamese coffee journey back to the historical, cultural, and economic facets. Starting from the lush green hills of the Central Highlands to the aromatic cup of coffee in your hands.

a typical cup of iced-milked coffee placing next to a cactus

The Origins of Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee culture has deep roots and a rich history. This bean has evolved into a cornerstone of the nation’s culture and economy. In the 19th century, the French introduced coffee to Vietnamese people for the first time. Over the years, Vietnam has ascended to become the second-largest coffee producer globally.

The country’s distinct geographic and climatic conditions, especially in the Central Highlands, offer an ideal environment for coffee cultivation. The region’s fertile soil, ample rainfall, and moderate climate allow the flourishing of robusta beans, which constitute a significant portion of Vietnam’s coffee exports. These conditions contribute to the unique flavor profiles of Vietnamese coffee, characterized by strong, bold, and distinctly smooth notes.

a farmer standing on a coffee farm
The Arabica coffee plants cultivated in 1922 Indochina (Source:

Coffee Supply Chain - From Bean to Cup

Farming and Harvesting

In the verdant landscapes of Vietnam, the coffee farming process is an embodiment of tradition and meticulous care. Robusta bean is the most well-known coffee bean. This type of coffee bean thrives in the Central Highlands’ ideal climatic conditions. The Arabica varieties are also cultivated, particularly in the cooler, higher elevations.

From bean to cup coffee, each variety, with its unique characteristics, contributes to Vietnam’s rich coffee profile.

Vietnamese farmers apply both traditional and modern harvesting methods. Firstly, they carefully select ripe cherries either by hand-picking or using mechanical methods. This process significantly influences the beans’ subsequent flavor nuances. The meticulous attention to the ripeness and handling of the cherries lays the foundational taste notes that Vietnamese coffee is celebrated.

a female farmer harvesting coffee beans
Vietnamese farmers always carefully select ripe cherries either by hand-picking (Source:

Processing and Roasting

Post-harvest, the beans undergo processing, crucial for defining the coffee’s final taste profile. This step will eventually remove the pulp and prepare beans for roasting. The experts could use both the wet and dry methods. All processed beans are either fermented and washed or sun-dried.

Roasters in Vietnam often infuse local flavors and ingredients such as butter, salt, or even rice wine. This special method creates a distinctive flavor profile that’s uniquely Vietnamese. The roasting tradition not only enhances the beans’ inherent qualities but also brings a signature taste that resonates with the essence of Vietnam’s coffee culture.

the coffee processing and roasting step
Roasters in Vietnam often infuse local flavors and ingredients (Source: Pexels)

Brewing Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee brewing is an art form in itself, distinguished by traditional methods that yield rich and flavorful cups. The most iconic method is brewing coffee with a specific gadget called “phin”. This “phin” is a small metal drip filter, which produces coffee one cup at a time, emphasizing patience and precision.

To brew a sensational cup of coffee, a barista will place medium-to-coarse ground coffee in the “phin”. Next, hot water will be politely added to the “phin”. The coffee slowly drips through the filter to create a strong, intense taste that could not be found elsewhere.

through the filter to create a strong, intense taste that could not be found elsewhere. Often served with sweetened condensed milk, this method brings out the coffee’s robust taste, offering a sensory journey into Vietnam’s coffee tradition. Enjoyed either hot or as iced coffee, Vietnamese brews provide a unique experience, reflecting the nation’s rich coffee heritage.

a cup of iced-milked Phin Coffee
The most iconic method is brewing coffee with a Phin (Source:

The Cultural Significance of Coffee in Vietnam

Coffee is more than a beverage in Vietnam; it’s a crucial part of life. It’s everywhere, from busy city streets to serene rural areas, embodying the rich cultural fabric of Vietnam. Iconic traditions, like savoring a slow-drip brew at a streetside café, are integral to Vietnamese life. Coffee serves as a medium for social interaction, a moment of solitude, and a connector of various local life aspects.

Vietnamese Coffee On The Global Stage

worldwide coffee export statistic
Vietnam is the second biggest exporter in the world (Source: Statista)

According to Statista, Vietnam has exported 25 million bags of coffee, making the country the second biggest exporter in the world, with a market share of 14.2%.

Vietnamese specialty coffee has made its mark globally, known for its robusta beans that provide a bolder flavor than the common arabica. The country’s coffee, especially the beloved Vietnamese iced coffee, has gained international acclaim. Yet, Vietnamese coffee producers navigate challenges like climate change and market shifts. However, the rising global demand for unique, sustainable coffee presents numerous opportunities.

How To Experience Vietnamese Specialty Coffee?

To savor Vietnamese specialty coffee, choose beans known for freshness and quality. Use a phin for an authentic brewing experience. Explore traditional recipes like Egg Coffee or visit local cafes to immerse yourself in Vietnam’s coffee culture, where the ambiance enhances the flavor.

cups of egg coffee
Exploring Egg Coffee in local cafes to immerse yourself in Vietnam's coffee culture (Source:

Vietnam specialty coffee invites you into a vibrant culture, rich in tradition and globally engaged. Whether you’re an avid coffee lover or new to Vietnamese coffee, a world of depth and richness awaits. Dive into Vietnamese coffee culture and uncover the unique tastes and traditions that make it so captivating.


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