Sometimes you need to spice up your morning coffee routine, and there’s no better way to do that than making a piping hot mug of Thai coffee. It’s sweet, it’s strong, and it’s the perfect way to kick off a weekday morning.
WHAT IS THAI COFFEE?
When made traditionally, Thai coffee is made with oliang, a mixture of robusta coffee, brown sugar, and grains like corn, soybeans, rice, or sesame. The oliang (also spelled “oleang”) is brewed by pouring hot water over the ground coffee and grains as they sit in a fabric bag and being left to steep.
The black coffee produced through this process is usually overly bitter, and for that reason — to offset the too-strong coffee flavor — sweetened condensed milk was added to the drink. Usually served in a glass full of ice cubes, Thai iced coffee has become quite the treat for natives and tourists alike, and it’s not uncommon to find this drink on the menu at an authentic Thai restaurant.
As with many recipes that have originated elsewhere, Thai coffee has been altered slightly, or “Americanized.” For example, you’ll find that many recipes call for instant coffee granules rather than oliang. These changes still make a delicious drink, but it probably won’t taste exactly like a cup you’d buy from a coffee vendor in Thailand.
THAILAND VS. VIETNAM
Though they hail from different countries, Thai and Vietnamese coffee are often confused for one another, but today, we’re going to clear any confusion you might have once and for all.
Both drinks use similar ingredients — coffee and condensed milk — but the biggest difference between Thai iced coffee (or hot, in our case) and Vietnamese iced coffee lies in the coffee itself. As we mentioned before, the oliang used to make traditional Thai coffee is a combination of coffee grounds, spices, sugar, and grains, while Vietnamese coffee is usually made with regular ground coffee.
Brewing methods also set the two apart, as Vietnamese coffee is usually filtered through a metal pour-over called a phin, while its Thai counterpart is strained through a muslin bag called a tungdtom.
TAKE ON THAI COFFEE AT HOME
- 3/4 cup of strong coffee
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- A saucepan
The first step in making delicious Thai coffee is pouring heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, and cardamom into a saucepan. Let the ingredients warm over medium heat just until the mixture is steaming. Be sure to stir it occasionally to make sure everything blends together well.
While the combo of milk, cream, and flavoring steam on the stove, go ahead and brew your coffee. You can use a shot of espresso, too, depending on the strength and flavor you want your brew to have.
Pour the hot coffee or espresso into a mug, then pour the creamy milk mixture over the coffee. Give the beverage a good stir so everything is smooth and evenly blended.
Remember, though our recipe is for a hot version of this drink, it’s typically served cold. So, the next time you need a caffeinated cooldown on a sweltering summer day, pull out the ice cubes and a tall glass and try a Thai iced coffee instead.
- ¾ cup strong brewed coffee
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- Combine heavy cream, condensed milk, almond extract, and cardamom. Heat on medium heat just until steamed.
- Pour mixture over coffee.
- Stir and enjoy!