My friends in Germany and my blog audience often hit me up with the question about the top Vietnamese coffee brands to buy or the go-to spots for a stellar cup while travelling Vietnam. So, I’m writing this post in the hopes that it throws a bit of coffee enlightenment your way.
These are my recommendations not only for mainstream brands, which you can easily find in any Vietnamese supermarkets, but also for locally beloved brands and even gourmet coffee brands known for their premium quality.
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We are the second-largest coffee exporter globally, just after Brazil. Initially, I doubted that Vietnamese coffee, with its significant focus on Robusta, would be the go-to for Western coffee lovers who tend to lean more towards Arabica.
But guess what? Turns out, many of my European friends have become interest in Vietnamese coffee after their visits to Vietnam. Coffee and chocolate are always the best Vietnamese souvernirs I highly recommend if you have a chance to visit my country.
Just last month, when I was doing my part-time job at the Anuga Food Fair 2023 in Cologne, a massive global food exhibition, I had some great chats with Vietnamese coffee exporters. They told me that European clients, especially the Germans, are absolutely hooked on Vietnamese coffee, whether it’s Arabica or Robusta—they’re importing a ton.
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What precisely defines Vietnamese coffee?
I appreciate the current missions of many Vietnamese coffee entrepreneurs aiming to redefine the concept of “Vietnamese Coffee” for foreign markets. Vietnamese coffee is more than just Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk); it now refers to a variety of made-in-Vietnam and made-by-Vietnamese coffee products.
Now, Vietnam goes beyond mainstream brands of ground coffee for traditional phin filters or instant coffee. It even catches up with the third wave of coffee in which the beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, emphasizing high-quality specialization.
Vietnamese coffee can be dark-roasted Robusta coffee or high-altitude Arabica coffee (now we can cultivate both Arabica and Robusta coffee, with Robusta accounting for around 90%).
For those wanting to dive deeper into the coffee world, you can explore more about Arabica and Robusta . But in general, Robusta coffee brings a bolder, robust flavor with an extra kick of caffeine.
In Vietnam, each region proudly features its signature coffee. Now, you can easily find a cup of Cà Phê Trứng or Cà Phê Muối in any major cities throughout the country. However, if you have the chance to visit the city of origin of each coffee, the flavor is truly the best.
How to select Vietnamese coffee
GROUND COFFEE VS INSTANT COFFEE
In Vietnam, you could easily find both ground coffee for those who prefer the traditional method (using a phin filter or a drip coffee maker ) and instant coffee for those pressed for time. The instant coffee tends to be milder than the ground version.
ARABICA VS. ROBUSTA
Robusta outshines with its strength and robustness, boasting a higher caffeine content compared to Arabica. Its flavor profile is characterized by woody and earthy notes, complemented by a subtle hint of dark chocolate.
It’s ideal for making Vietnamese-style coffee, particularly iced coffee (Cà Phê Sữa Đá), where the coffee flavor is not overwhelmed by the sweetness of condensed milk.
Arabica boasts a smoother, sweeter taste, featuring notes of chocolate, sugar, and somehow winey and fruity undertones. Given its long-standing dominance in the coffee market, Arabica is more welcoming to Western palates.
Dak Lak is the Vietnam’s coffee capital, primarily dedicated to cultivating Robusta. Meanwhile, Đà Lạt, with its elevated altitude, could be called as the Arabica coffee capital in Vietnam.
Besides Đà Lạt, Arabica coffee is also cultivated in Măng Đen and Sơn La in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, you can easily find either 100% Arabica ground coffee or 100% Robusta ground coffee, but the most popular choices are the coffee blends that incorporate a unique ratio from each roaster.
FINE OR COARSE
When selecting ground coffee, aside from the flavor, it also depends on your brewing methods.
Medium-coarse grind coffee is ideal for those using a phin filter for Vietnamese traditional drip coffee. It tends to be a bit milder than the coffee used in coffee makers.
Fine grind coffee is tailored for those using coffee makers, delivering a bolder and stronger flavor, especially for Espresso machine.
This advice is helpful when you buy coffee from a gourmet coffee brand in Vietnam. You can inquire with the staff about the grind level of the coffee or personally test it. Most popular coffee in Vietnamese supermarkets is instant coffee or for brewing with phin filters.
The roast level is also an essential criterion when you purchase coffee from gourmet coffee brands. It depends on your preference for coffee flavor. There are four basic roast levels: light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast.
Best Vietnamese Coffee Brands (Mainstream Brands)
These are the popular brands in Vietnam associated with major companies, often accompanied by a significant chain of coffee shops. You can easily find their products at Vietnamese supermarkets or their coffee shops along the streets.
Trung Nguyen is the most iconic and largest Vietnamese coffee brand, originating in 1996 in Daklak, the Vietnamese capital of coffee. The brand has since expanded its reach, exporting products to over 60 countries. Trung Nguyen is a good starting point for any new Vietnamese coffee fans.
Their most popular coffee is the Instant Coffee “G7”, available at almost supermarkets and convenience stores.
And the “Premium Blend” ground coffee for those who prefer coffee brewed with a Phin filter. They also offer paper-filter coffee, another convenient option for coffee lovers.
As an established coffee brand in Vietnam since 1968, Vina café is known for the instant coffee “3 in 1”. You can easily get their coffee products at many Vietnamese supermarkets.
Best Vietnamese Coffee Brands (Local Brands)
Beyond the well-known coffee brands, let me introduce you to some smaller indie gems. While they may not dominate the coffee markets, their quality is undeniable and appreciated by many Vietnamese locals. Most of the founders are young Vietnamese entrepreneurs.
Cộng Cà Phê, a coffee shop chain originating from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, boasts a unique concept inspired by the subsidy period in Vietnam (thời bao cấp).
With this creative concept and their innovative products like Cà Phê Dừa (Coconut Coffee) (credited to Cộng Cà Phê for making it go viral in Vietnam) and Cà Phê Phở (Phở Coffee) , they have garnered immense popularity among the youth.
In addition to the traditional flavored ground coffee, they offer variations with unique flavors such as cinnamon coffee, honey coffee, or Pho coffee.
A family-owned coffee-tea farm since 1994. They offer a wide range of coffee and tea, especially Arabica coffee (FYI, Cầu Đất, Đà Lạt, is in the highlands at 1500m above sea level, where Vietnamese people can cultivate Arabica coffee).
Dalat Farm 1994 offer coffee in three product lines: traditional ground coffee, convenient paper filter, and original whole beans.
You can get their products at their store in Dalat, Vietnam.
Despite being a newer player in the coffee scene (established in 2017), they have quickly become pioneers in crafting a diverse range of innovative coffee products in the Vietnamese market.
Besides the traditional coffee for phin filters, their products include 100% Arabica coffee ground, finely ground coffee tailor-made for professional coffee machines, and freeze-dried instant coffee.
Their location in HCM city.
“Café de Măng Đen” is a coffee brand from Mang Den Plateau, in the northern part of the Central Highlands region. At an elevation of 1200 meters above sea level, Mang Den is one of the few regions in Vietnam where people can cultivate Arabica coffee.
Their signature products are 100% Arabica coffee and Arabica-Robusta blended coffee. They have a coffee shop in Hanoi, Vietnam where you could enjoy and purchase their products.
Their location in Hanoi, Vietnam
Best Vietnamese Coffee Brands (Gourmet Brands)
Many of them provide “farm to cup” coffee with the aim to produce the best-tasting, highest-quality coffee sourced from specific origins with a unique micro-climate, resulting in a more profound flavor experience in your cup.
What attracts me to Vietnamese gourmet coffee brands, beyond their quality, are their branding concepts. Each brand has its own inspiring stories about their love for coffee, whether it’s the pride they take in their products, their respect for Vietnamese farmers and the environment, or their mission to share Vietnamese coffee culture with the world.
Established in 2013 in Da Lat, Là Việt was founded with a strong belief that Vietnamese coffee can be just as good as coffee from any countries. Over the years, La Viet has evolved into an emerging domestic coffee brand with 14 establishments throughout Vietnam.
Là Việt, which literally means “Be Vietnamese” , made a lasting impression on me with their concept. I was impressed by how they integrated Vietnamese values into their products and how they catered to the insights of their customers.
Là Viet provides a comprehensive range of coffee choices to fulfill every customer’s preferences, including machine coffee, filter coffee, and handmade drip coffee.
“The Married Beans” is derived from the founder’s deep love and close relationship with coffee beans. What inspires me about this brand is their philosophy of “making coffee with kindness and responsibility.”
Two decades ago, when the Vietnamese market was still filled with low-quality coffee, and coffee roasters often used roasted soybeans or burnt corn kernels to lower costs.
Since then, the founder of “The Married Beans” has dreamed of creating “a decent Vietnamese coffee”—coffee made with kindness to customers and respect for farmers and the environment.
Specializing in 100% Arabica coffee, The Married Beans offers a diverse range, including convenient paper filter coffee, cold brew coffee, and phin filter coffee.
Their showroom in Dalat stands out as one of the few cafes dedicated to serving specialty coffee.
Meanwhile, situated in the old Villa Merionnet with classical French architecture, The Married Beans workspace , provides a space where you can not only enjoy exceptional coffee but also engage in their coffee workshops.
Named after the famous Pacamara beans from El Salvador, Sơn Pacamara came into being when, in 2010, Mr. Son unintentionally acquired Pacamara coffee trees from a local agriculture research facility and successfully cultivated them on his farm.
As a trailblazer in Vietnam’s specialty coffee industry, he follows the philosophy of “from farm to cup” coffee. Experts from the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) even visited his farm and scored these coffee beans over 80/100 points (according to the SCA scale).
If you’re in Da Lat, be sure to drop by Sơn Pacamara Roastery to enjoy a cup of Arabica or join in his coffee workshops. You can also purchase specialty products crafted by his farm.
Besides, you have the opportunity to visit or become a volunteer at his farm to learn about the coffee production process.
K’ho Coffee is a coffee brand founded by an American-K’ho couple living in Lạc Dương, Vietnam (a small town nearby Dalat). It is a cooperative of K’ho families, a minority ethnicity in Vietnam, growing high-quality arabica coffee on Langbiang Mountain in Dalat, Vietnam.
While their coffee bar may not be easily accessible, it’s worth the effort. In addition to enjoying a tasty cup of coffee, you have the chance to learn and explore the local culture of the K’Ho people in Vietnam.
Located in Saigon, Lacàph Space is a must-visit, especially if you’re curious about Vietnamese coffee. What I love about this brand is how they support the business of “Thái” women in Son La (Vietnamese “Thai peope” are a minority ethnic group in the Northern highlands of Vietnam; they are not Thai ethnic from Thailand).
Arabica coffee from Ara-Tay, a coffee brand produced by “Thái” women, is one of the ingredients in their signature Lacàph Phin Blend.
Here, besides enjoying a cup of delightful coffee, you can delve into Vietnamese coffee culture and history, as well as learn the technique to make a perfect cup of Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Cà Phê Trứng).
They also provide a diverse range of coffee products for home-brewing folks, including, coffee blends for phin filters, or making Espresso.
Here are my recommendations for the Vietnamese coffee brands that are worth buying during your trip to Vietnam, including mainstream options available in supermarkets, local brands, and gourmet specialty coffee brands for coffee enthusiasts. Have a wonderful trip to Vietnam, and don’t forget to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee in my home country—cheers!