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How to Order Vietnamese Coffee At Starbucks

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Starbucks doesn’t sell Vietnamese coffee, but there’s a custom request you can use to get (nearly)authentic-tasting Vietnamese coffee regardless.

Starbucks boasts an extensive menu of coffees and teas, as well as customized drinks — which roughly 60% of its customers prefer.

One of the biggest gaps in Starbucks’ menu is Vietnamese coffee.

This preparation style relies on the bold robusta bean and a strong, concentrated brew, which is then balanced with sweetened condensed milk and cooled with ice.

Here, you’ll learn how to order Vietnamese coffee at any Starbucks (or any other coffee shop) and everything else you need to know about this magical beverage.

What to Order: Starbucks Vietnamese Coffee

Starbucks doesn’t offer traditional Vietnamese coffee, but you can order something similar.

The coffee won’t be made with a Vietnamese phin, but you can customize the drink so it at least resembles the original. 

Here’s what to order:

  1. An iced quad shot of espresso in a venti cup (4 shots of espresso)
  2. Four pumps of white chocolate mocha syrup
  3. Top with vanilla sweet cream foam

If you’re trying this drink for the first time, vary the pumps of chocolate mocha until you find the level of sweetness you like. If two pumps are not sweet enough, just ask for an extra pump free of charge.

While it’s not the same as the traditional Vietnamese coffee you’ll have in a specialized restaurant, the resemblance is uncanny. 

Differences Between This Starbucks Hack & Traditional Vietnamese Coffee

The Starbucks drink is similar, but it’s not the same as the original. Here are some of the major differences. 

1. The Preparation Process 

Starbucks, like many coffee shops around the world, uses espresso machines for many of its drinks. These machines force hot water through the coffee grounds, resulting in a concentrated few ounces of coffee called espresso. 

In contrast, traditional Vietnamese coffee uses a metal filter, called a phin filter, positioned on top of the cup. Hot water passes through the coffee grounds slowly, making the coffee more potent. You won’t be able to get Vietnamese coffee made this way at Starbucks. Truth be told, slow brewing is one of the things that make Vietnamese coffee one of a kind.

2. The Main Sweetener

White chocolate mocha syrup is a popular coffee addition and is a staple in many popular drinks. Its main ingredients are sugar, white chocolate, and milk — the taste resembles sweetened condensed milk, a must in traditional Vietnamese coffee.

While adding this syrup to espresso will help recreate a Vietnamese coffee, it’s not exactly the case. One of the main differences is that sweetened condensed milk is denser and has a distinct creaminess that white chocolate mocha syrup doesn’t have. Adding a topping of sweet cream foam can mimic the traditional consistency. 

3. The Base Coffee

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, the coffee flavor will definitely stand out. One of the main differences between the traditional and the Starbucks wannabe is the flavor. Starbucks uses arabica beans, which are more subtle and have a slightly sweet flavor with a fruity aroma. 

Traditional Vietnamese coffee, on the other hand, is made with either 100% robusta beans or a blend that’s high in robusta and lower in arabica. Robusta has a higher caffeine content, a somewhat bitter profile, and an exceptional earthy aroma that makes it truly unique. 

Although Vietnamese coffee is characterized by its dark roast, different flavors are often added to the roasting process, such as vanilla, butter, mocha, chicory, and whiskey. 

Starbucks makes a decent substitute, but don’t forget that you make your own drink at home if you want the real thing (we’ll get to that next!). 

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee At Home

It’s a mistake to think that the only good coffee comes from a coffee shop. It’s not difficult to make an excellent cup at home, whether it’s espresso, drip, French press, or Vietnamese. With a little know-how, you can be your own barista. 

One crucial ingredient is the coffee bean, so make sure you have a high-quality robusta, like HaNoi Coffee beans — or Instant Vietnamese Black Coffee, if you want to skip a step.

Our favorite, for the most legit experience, is Robusta Vietnamese coffee, but be warned because these beans aren’t for everybody. They might be way more potent than what you’re used to.

Real Vietnamese coffee is made with a phin filter. It’s similar to espresso but as a pour-over. The filter sits on top of the cup, and the coffee drips onto a layer of sweetened condensed milk. 

The phin filters are easy to use; just add medium-ground coffee to the filter and add water. The specific amounts depend on the filter and how much coffee you’re making. 

Add ice if you want your drink cold. 

FAQs: Starbucks Vietnamese Coffee

1. Can I order traditional Vietnamese coffee at Starbucks?

No, Starbucks does not offer traditional Vietnamese coffee on its menu, but you can customize an order to resemble the taste of Vietnamese coffee by requesting an iced quad espresso with white chocolate mocha syrup topped with vanilla sweet cream foam.

2. What are the main differences between this Starbucks version & traditional Vietnamese coffee?

The differences include the preparation process (espresso machine vs. phin filter), the main sweetener (white chocolate mocha syrup vs. sweetened condensed milk), and the base coffee used (arabica beans at Starbucks vs. robusta beans in traditional Vietnamese coffee).

4. Why does Starbucks use arabica beans instead of robusta?

Starbucks primarily uses arabica beans for their slightly sweet flavor and fruity aroma, contrasting the traditional Vietnamese coffee made with robusta beans, which have a higher caffeine content, a somewhat bitter profile, and an earthy aroma.

5. Can I make authentic Vietnamese coffee at home? What do I need?

Yes, you can make authentic Vietnamese coffee at home using a phin filter, high-quality robusta beans, and sweetened condensed milk. The process involves brewing the coffee directly onto the condensed milk and then adding ice if desired. 

6. How much caffeine is in the Starbucks version of Vietnamese coffee?

According to Starbucks, two shots of espresso (a doppio) have approximately 150 mg of caffeine. That’s quite a bit, considering how little coffee that is. Each shot is one ounce, so two ounces is about ¼ cup. Four shots would have a whopping 300 mg. 

A traditional Vietnamese coffee (2–4 ounces) has about 60–150 mg of caffeine. 

7. How many calories are in the Starbucks version of Vietnamese coffee?

Each pump of coffee syrup has about 20 calories. Starbucks adds three pumps to their tall (12 oz) drinks. 

This is comparable to the sweetened condensed milk in Vietnamese coffee, which has about 20 calories for two tablespoons. 

8. Can I use something besides a phin filter to make Vietnamese coffee?

You can use other brewing methods, but the results won’t be quite the same.

The key is to get strong, concentrated coffee, so espresso or the moka pot can work well. You could use a French press or drip coffee maker, but use more coffee grounds and less water to make a stronger brew. A medium-fine grind will help you get closer to the right flavor. 


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