If you ever get the opportunity to visit Vietnam, we highly recommend taking the trip. But eating the incredible local cuisine, exploring the beautiful natural landscape, and weaving through traffic on high-speed scooters calls for some serious energy-boosting liquid. We suggest — you guessed it —sampling some Vietnamese coffee. However, if you want to order Vietnamese coffee like a local, it’s important to know how to say “coffee” in Vietnamese, and to understand the story of how the word came to be.
When ordering traditional iced coffee in Vietnam, use the phrasecà phê sữa đá,(pronounced “kah-fey-suh-dah”), which literally translates to “Vietnamese iced coffee with milk.” For black Vietnamese coffee, you would use the termcà phê đen(pronounced “kah-fey-dehn”). However, it gets pretty hot in Vietnam, so if you’re looking for black iced coffee, add theđá back in, and ask forcà phê đen đá(pronounced “kah-fey-dehn-dah”).
The origin of the phrasecà phêcomes from the French wordcafé(pronounced “kah-fey”). In fact, coffee was originally introduced to Vietnam by the French in 1857, when the European nation colonized the land. (They also brought baguettes and an alphabet system.) After that, coffee plantations in Vietnam began to crop up all throughout the country, and Vietnam became the coffee industry powerhouse that it is today — the second largest producer of coffee beans in the world and thenumber oneproducer ofrobusta coffee beans globally.
Another important thing to remember if you ever find yourself in search of coffee while in Vietnam is that most Vietnamese coffee is brewed using aphin filter, a stainless steel or ceramic filter that sits on top of your cup and functions like an espresso-pour over hybrid. (You can check out our how-to brew guidehere.) If you’re orderingcà phê sữa đá,there will likely already be some sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of your glass or mug. Once thephin stops dripping, the resulting cup of deliciouscà phê sữa đáis sure to blow you away.
Purchase our freshly roasted Vietnamese coffee beans here.
Make other exciting coffee creations using our recipes here.
Learn about dialing in a phin filter here.