The Exotic Bean

Iced? Condensed Milk? Spices? How Coffee Is Prepared in Southeast Asia

Fan of Southeast Asia Coffee? Make It at Home Today!

Southeast Asia produces some of the most aromatic and delicious coffee beans in the world, and also some of the most interesting and exciting ways to prepare coffee. Coffee is so popular internationally that you can probably get it however you want it, even if you’re in Southeast Asia.

However, if you’re looking to mix things up from the way you usually enjoy your favorite beverage, here are some insights into how they do it in the Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and more.

Vietnam, Cambodia

Iced coffee is very popular in Vietnam. To make Vietnamese iced coffee, also called ca phe sua da, you’ll need dark roasted coffee and a special stainless steel Vietnamese coffee filter.

Cover the bottom of your glass with sweetened, condensed milk. Take off the top of the filter and put in a tablespoon of your ground coffee. Cover with the top filter and screw it in tight. Put the filter over the glass and pour boiling water into it.

After about five minutes, you should have a glass full of coffee. Once that’s done, stir the milk and coffee together. Then, for a truly Vietnamese flavor, dip a toothpick in fish sauce and stir that in. Then add ice and enjoy.


In Singapore, the locals love to drink a brew called Kopi. This exotic coffee is all in the beans. In Kopi coffee, the beans are roasted in a wok, with sugar, margarine, maize and pineapple skin until they are a deep, dark brown.

The beans are then ground through a strainer that looks something like a cotton sock. Once the coffee is brewed, it is poured into a hot cup that has already been treated with evaporated milk and sugar, with a little more hot water poured on top after the coffee.

How to drink coffee in SE Asia


In Laos, coffee preparation is often a combination of the above two methods. The coffee is brewed through the sock-like filter, as in Singapore, but then heavily mixed with sweetened condensed milk and cooled with ice, as in Vietnam.


A very popular coffee in Thailand is Liang, a black, iced coffee that can include brown sugar, soybeans, sesame seeds, and other grains and seeds. It is brewed with the cotton filter, here called a tungdtom, after which ice is added. It may be served with two small pitchers, one of evaporated milk and one of simple syrup.

The Philippines

Although it’s not as easy to get these days, a very popular type of coffee in the Philippines has long been Kapeng Barako, which comes from the Barako trees in Batangas. This strong, very aromatic coffee can be brewed using any of the methods above and is then sweetened with brown sugar or honey.