7 Best Vietnamese Coffee Beans Reviewed

Vietnamese coffee? You may not know this, but Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world.

And if you haven't heard of or tried coffee from Vietnam, there's a reason. It's because there's a bias in the coffee world towards Arabica beans. Mass media and baristas alike are quick to point out that Arabica is the end-all, be-all. That opinion is wrong and unfounded. Maybe that's why Vietnam isn't one of the first countries you think of when you think of quality coffee.

Vietnam produces mostly Robusta beans. About 97% of the coffee produced in Vietnam is Robusta, and the rest is a specific type of Arabica called Catimor.

We'll look at the top Vietnamese coffee to show you what brands to buy and which Vietnamese coffee beans are the best.

Đi nào! (That's Vietnamese for “Let's Go!”)

The 7 Best Vietnamese Coffee Beans Review - Our Pick

It's interesting how coffee cultures differ in every country and region. The Asian coffee scene has shown incredible innovation and class over the years, with Japan being the standout. Not a lot of people know that Vietnam has a unique coffee culture that stems back centuries.

In Vietnam, coffee is part of life. It's usually mixed with condensed milk, sugar and often poured over ice to help people cool down in the hot and humid climate.

Vietnamese coffee isn't big in the US yet. However, more and more brands (and people) are waking up because Vietnam produces excellent coffee at an affordable price.

Our list includes pure Robusta as well as blends of Robusta and Arabica.

Here's our Top 7:

Trung Nguyen Vietnamese coffee

Trung Nguyen Vietnamese coffee

  • Region: Unknown (Various blends)
  • Type of roast: Medium (Full City)
  • Type of roast: Medium (Full City)
  • Flavor notes: Depends on roast
  • Certifications: N/A

Trung Nguyen is Vietnam's #1 selling coffee brand. While it's most commonly sold in ground form, there are also whole beans available. At first glance, you may find different packaging, and it may be confusing to figure out what's what.

So, we broke it down to make it easier to understand. There are two main branches of the company - the original Trung Nguyen mixed blend coffee and the Trung Nguyen Legend coffee blends.

For our purposes, we'll focus on the original. There are five blends, each with its flavor characteristics, roast, and Arabica/Robusta ratio.

Here's a table that shows the differences:

Creative 1 Creative 2 Creative 3 Creative 4 Creative 5
Type of Coffee 100% Robusta 60% Arabica
40% Robusta
100%
Regular Arabica
50% Arabica
50% Robusta
100% Culi Arabica
Type of Roast Full City Full City Full City Full City Full City
Aroma 3 4 3 5 4
Acidity 2 3 3 3 4
Body 4 3 3 4 3
Flavor 3 3 3 3 3
Aftertaste 3 4 3 4 3

While the brand's site shows step-by-step instructions for brewing Vietnamese-style coffee (in a Phin filter - more on this later), you can use various brewing methods to match your tastes.

Generally considered to be Vietnam's premier coffee brand, there has been some controversy over the years regarding the consistency. It seems some of the blends change in flavor from batch to batch, perhaps because Arabica beans are scarce in Vietnam.

Nevertheless, Trung Nguyen is at the top of our list because they have the best beans for Vietnamese coffee - an excellent, rich taste coupled with an aroma with deep nutty notes and a chocolatey aftertaste.

Dalat Peaberry Robusta Coffee

Dalat Peaberry Robusta Coffee

  • Region: Dalat Highlands (100% Robusta)
  • Type of roast: Medium+ (Full City)
  • Form: Whole beans (1 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate
  • Certifications: Direct trade

Peaberry beans are notably smaller than regular coffee beans because of a particular genetic mutation. But that doesn't mean they are inferior in quality. It's quite the opposite as they're highly coveted (especially by espresso lovers) for their intense flavor.

These Vietnamese coffee beans are grown in the Dalat Highlands. The beans grown there are sweet thanks to the soil and altitude. You could say this peaberry is the embodiment of Vietnam - Robusta beans with a strong flavor, high caffeine, full-bodied and very slightly acidic.

The Dalat region is breathtaking. We recommend looking it up in Google and just sitting back and taking it all in. Well, of course, it'd be even better to visit and try the coffee straight from the fresh crop, but COVID has put certain restrictions on our lives, so we'll have to settle with this wonderfully aromatic coffee and YouTube. The coffee here grows at an altitude of just under 5,000 ft (~1,500 meters).

We recommend this coffee for people who like a punchy, in-your-face coffee that gets you going. The brand recommends brewing this as a traditional Vietnamese filter coffee or as espresso. The Medium+ (note the +) designation means it's a darker roast than traditional medium (right in the middle between medium and dark), so it's the right balance of flavor and boldness.

Nguyen Coffee Supply Loyalty

Nguyen Coffee Supply Loyalty

  • Region: Central Highlands (50% Arabica 50% Robusta)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole beans, Ground (0.75 lb, 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Nutty, smoky
  • Certifications: Direct Trade, Organic

Not to be confused with our #1 pick Trung Nguyen, the Nguyen Coffee Supply brand makes our #3 spot. The brand is truly unique because it's the first to import Vietnamese green coffee beans and roast them in their facility in Brooklyn, NY. Thanks to Nguyen Coffee Supply, Vietnamese coffee has surged in popularity in the US.

The “Loyalty” blend is a 50/50 Arabica-Robusta flavor explosion that mixes the best of both worlds. It's bold while simultaneously being fruity and smooth. We like that all of their coffee blends come in whole bean and ground form with 12 oz and 80 oz bags.

Apart from the signature Loyalty blend, there are also pure Arabica - “Moxy” - and pure Robusta - “Truegrit.” The Loyalty blend was formulated to be as versatile as possible - perfect for pour-over, espresso, French Press, or traditional Vietnamese filter coffee.

We love that this brand targets the younger generation of coffee drinkers and anybody that likes sustainable agriculture. Nguyen sources their beans from a single farmer in a coffee-rich region of Vietnam. Also, you can buy a Vietnamese coffee kit in a bundle pack with your choice of coffee.

Chestbrew Strong Dark

Chestbrew Strong Dark

  • Region: Unknown (100% Arabica)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole beans (1.25 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Nutty
  • Certifications: Unknown

We started by saying that Vietnam produces Robusta predominantly, yet you see lots of Arabica on our list. The reason for that is most likely due to American palates. But keep in mind, we're reviewing what we believe to be the best, and Robusta blends aren't always the “flagman” of each brand.

The Chestbrew Strong Dark blend is also known as “Moon Bear.” The other blends are the “Big Bad Bear” and the “Grizzly Bear.” Moon Bear is a smooth, dark, and satisfying 100% Arabica, while the Big Bad Bear is a blend. Grizzly Bear is dusted with dark chocolate, which gives it a rich, smoky flavor.

Since we're focusing on the Strong Dark (aka Moon Bear) blend, let's talk about what makes it special. It's a single-origin coffee that reviews are raving about. While it's unclear exactly where the beans are grown, we know from the brand's website that they're grown and roasted in Vietnam.

Chestbrew claims their coffee is the “strongest” and “smoothest.” Judging by the reviews, people agree that it's smooth and has a kick, especially boasting about its flavor. This is one of the best Vietnamese coffee beans brand, no doubt about it, and we're excited to see what else they have in store.

VN Roaster, Butter Roasted Coffee

VN Roaster, Butter Roasted Coffee

  • Region: Dak Lak (100% Robusta)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole beans, Ground (0.75 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate, butter
  • Certifications: Unknown

VN Roaster has been in business since 2010. They source their coffee from the Central Highlands, specifically the Dak Lak region - it's famous for being the most significant coffee-producing region in Vietnam. There's not a lot of info on this roaster, which is a bit weird, but at the same time, we don't judge brands purely on marketing, and neither should you.

This 100% Robusta coffee is a medium roast, making it versatile for any type of brewing method. And being Robusta, it stands up to anything you mix in, like milk, sugar, or ice. The flavor will still cut through all the ingredients.

One thing that stands out is how the beans are roasted - in French butter. You read that correctly. Butter. Not only does this add an extra dimension of flavor, but it also adds a caramelized coating to the beans. Once you grind them up and brew coffee with them, you'll experience a velvety-smooth, rich, and flavor-packed cup of coffee. This style of roasting is exclusive to Vietnam.

VN Roaster coffee comes in whole beans and ground. From the reviews we read, it's clear that this coffee and Vietnamese coffee, in general, grows on you over time and will have you coming back for more.

Lang Thang, Saigon Phin Daklak

Lang Thang, Saigon Phin Daklak

  • Region: Tay Nguyen (Blend of Robusta, Arabica, Soybean)
  • Type of roast: Unknown
  • Form: Ground (0.75 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: Unknown
  • Certifications: Unknown

Our #6 pick is a dark horse. While the company has been around since 2010, there's virtually no information about them, besides a short blurb on their website. That is until you dig a little deeper and find out that the company doesn't just sell coffee - they have two shops in Ohio where you can have a Vietnamese iced coffee (à phê sữa đá), phở soup and bánh mì sandwiches.

The idea for packaging and selling their signature blend is a side business, which is fantastic. The company sources its coffee from a Central Highlands region called Tay Nguyen - a mountainous terrain full of forests and fertile soil.

You may be on the fence because you see pre-ground coffee, and we get it. But the thing is, this is a custom blend of different beans, so if you were to sell it in whole beans, the ratio would be off. In other words, this blend of Arabica, Vietnamese robusta coffee beans, Peaberry and Soybean was born to be ground.

We chose this coffee as it's unlike any other we encountered. The family grows and roasts the beans, which are then exported to Ohio, where people get to taste the bold, smooth flavors of Vietnam in a 12 oz (0.75 lb) resealable bag.

Nguyen Coffee Supply - The Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio

Nguyen Coffee Supply - The Original Vietnamese Coffee Trio

  • Region: Central Highlands (Various blends)
  • Type of roast: Depends on blend
  • Form: Whole beans, Ground (three 0.75 lb bags)
  • Flavor notes: Nutty, smoky
  • Certifications: Direct Trade, Organic

So, this brand name will look familiar if you read about our #3 pick, and that's because it's the same brand! We chose to highlight their coffee trio pack separately as it's a great deal, especially if you can't decide between Loyalty, Moxy and Truegrit.

Loyalty is a 50/50 Arabica-Robusta blend that is plenty strong and flavorful at the same time. Moxy is 100% Arabica that's fruity, smooth and sweet. Truegrit is a 100% Robusta. Nguyen Coffee Supply handpicked peaberry beans to make this coffee the strongest out of the three.

You can buy the bundle pack in whole bean or ground form. The pre-ground version is ground fine - for Phin filters. We feel that this trio of coffees is perfect for someone who's just getting to know the wonders of Vietnamese coffee. Plus, it's at a price point.

Our recommendation would be to give this a try - and remember - Robusta isn't the nasty, bitter sludge that you've been told it is. High-quality Robusta is different than Arabica, but coffee drinkers enjoy the deeper chocolatey, nutty notes.

What is Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia and has a tropical/sub-tropical climate. Coffee is grown throughout the country, and most plants are the Robusta variety.

Coffee was first brought to Vietnam in 1857 by the French. The first plants were Arabica, and in the early 1900s, Robusta was also brought over.

In the 100 years after first being introduced, there was a tiny amount of plantations. It wasn't until the mid 20th century that coffee took off after the government took a more active role in developing infrastructure and getting into the global coffee market. Since the 2000s, Vietnam has been the second-largest exporter of coffee in the world, behind Brazil.

Vietnamese Coffee Cultivation

The Vietnamese people like their coffee strong and that might be why Robusta has dominated the coffee plantations.

In recent years, the government has incentivized coffee growth, which has its pros and cons. On the upside, coffee exports have been steadily growing. This has created jobs and allowed people to get out of poverty. On the downside, mono-cropping coffee caused the once rich soil to become less fertile. Also, because farmers were in a race to produce, produce, produce, they often used fertilizers./p>

But thankfully, the government stepped in in time and is now pushing for sustainable coffee growing throughout the country. It has set up special councils and initiatives to ensure coffee can be grown in Vietnam for many years to come.

However, one factor affects Vietnam's (and the entire world's) future— climate change. Since coffee is grown in tropical/sub-tropical areas, usually at a higher altitude, there are only a handful of regions in the world where it can be grown.

Traditional Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee is traditionally made using a Phin filter. Technically speaking, it's a cross between a French press and a pour-over, and it's sometimes called a filter press. Coffee is normally brewed in single-serve cups, but there are also Phin filters that can be used for multiple servings.

If you were to ask a Vietnamese person how they take their coffee, they'd likely say cà phê sữa đá. The first part cà phê is how the French pronounce coffee (café), sữa is condensed milk and đá is ice. One possible reason condensed milk is used could be because fresh milk was rare during the war, and canned condensed milk could be transported more easily. Also, it doesn't require refrigeration.

And it's obvious why drinking coffee over ice is preferred - because living in the tropics can get hot and sticky.

How do you make Phin-filtered coffee?
  • For a single-serving filter, use 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee.
  • Place the Phin filter over the cup or container, add the coffee, and place the top (press) on the grounds.
  • Heat water to ~200° F.
  • Pour about 1 oz of water to bloom the grounds.
  • After approximately 30 seconds, add another 4 oz of water.
  • It should take a few minutes to see the first tasty drips of coffee.
  • After about five minutes, you can remove the filter and enjoy your coffee the way you like it.

The best coffee beans for Vietnamese coffee are the ones that you enjoy most. Check out our list above to make the decision easier.

Vietnamese Coffee Taste Profile

While there's no one flavor profile, Robusta beans tend to be very bold and robust in flavor. They have nutty and chocolatey notes that stand out. Also, when making milky drinks or the traditional Vietnamese way, you can still taste the coffee. Vietnamese Arabica beans are sweet and fruity, like in other parts of the world.

Taste also depends on the blend and the brewing method. For example, 50/50 Arabica-Robusta blends will be strong, bold and fruity at the same time. And if you brew an espresso, it will taste different than a pour-over or Phin-filtered coffee.

Growing conditions In Vietnam

Growing conditions in Vietnam are incredibly favorable for coffee. Each growing region processes green coffee beans in specialized plants, which are mostly dry-processing plants. However, the biggest processing facilities use wet-processing, as it's more efficient.

The Vietnamese government is pushing to make Vietnam a sustainable coffee-growing country, and this looks to be working. As a bonus, since being popularized in the states, more money is being poured into the country to support local growers.

Coffee growing regions in Vietnam

There are four main coffee-growing regions: Northwestern Mountain Region, Central Coastal Region, Central Highlands, and the Southeastern Region.

The Central Highlands produce the majority of coffee grown in Vietnam (over 80%). The most prominent part of the Central Highlands is Dak Lak.

Production of the Vietnamese coffee

Arabica beans are grown at altitudes above 4,000 ft in the mountainous regions, while Robusta is cultivated in the highlands regions. Arabica plants prefer a cooler temperature, and Robusta plants prefer humid, hot weather.

Once again, the government is playing a large role in improving production. They're trying to shift farmers from old irrigation systems and wells, but the process is slow, and most farms still use groundwater supplies.

But the good news is that changes are being made in government policies, which is causing a positive cascading effect for the entire country.

Conclusion

More and more specialty coffee shops are offering Vietnamese coffee, and if you're lucky, you can find it prepared the traditional way in a Phin filter. But to save money and enjoy it daily, check out our Top 7 list and choose a coffee that speaks to you. To get the full experience, invest in a Phin filter of your own.

Now that you know about the best-kept secret in coffee - Vietnam - it's time to try it!

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/04/19

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

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