Unveiling the Health Secrets of Vietnamese Coffee

Explore how Vietnamese coffee, made with robusta beans and condensed milk, can impact your physical and mental well-being.

May 31, 2024
An illustration of a cup filled to the brim with Vietnamese coffee, with coffee beans scattered in the background.

Vietnamese coffee is known for its strong flavor, which is derived from the use of Coffea robusta beans and the velvety texture of condensed milk. Can something that tastes so good be healthy? 

The long answer to this question is complicated and depends on many factors. The short answer is yes — it certainly can be! However, like all things, it’s important to drink Vietnamese coffee in moderation.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the many health benefits of Vietnamese coffee and the potential side effects if you drink too much. We’ll also cover ingredient substitutions and alternatives for when you want to change things up.

Health Benefits of Vietnamese Coffee Explained

Vietnamese coffee does a lot more than taste amazing and boost your energy. Just a few cups each day can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health. Here’s how…


Vietnamese coffee is rich in antioxidants (namely, hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols), which have a wide range of associated health benefits.

Hydrocinnamic acids are incredibly effective at neutralizing harmful free radicals. This prevents them from causing oxidative stress, reducing damage to our DNA, proteins, and cells, which can result in early aging and neurological diseases [1].

Polyphenols work in a similar way. They act as reducing agents to protect your body’s tissues from oxidative stress. They may help reduce problems with inflammation, heart disease, and cancer [2].

Health Benefits of Antioxidants in Coffee (Backed by Research):

  • Reduced chances of developing heart disease [3]
  • Reduced risk of cancer [4]
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes [5]
  • Liver-protective [6]
  • Reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders [7,8]

Related: 105 Coffee Facts: History, Health, & Trivia

Metabolic Health (Diabetes)

Studies are addressing potential links between drinking coffee and lower risks of type 2 diabetes and liver disease [8]. Compiling studies into a meta-analysis concluded a reduced type 2 diabetes risk of 6% per cup [8]. 

Other factors can influence the health of specific individuals, but the results are clear. There is a hopeful correlation between type 2 diabetes and regularly drinking coffee. 

Daily coffee consumption (cups)

Risk of type 2 diabetes

Increased consumption of > 1

11% reduced risk

Decreased consumption of > 1

17% increased risk

As shown above, daily consumption of at least one cup of coffee per day has a reduced type 2 diabetes risk of 11% [9] compared to making no dietary change at all. Reducing coffee intake by at least one cup led to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes by 17%. Many factors like lifestyle choices and genes can affect type 2 diabetes risk. Results lean towards coffee having a positive effect on type 2 diabetes risk. Hopefully, the future will bring more studies exploring this. 

Brain Health

Some studies show that people who consume caffeine on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease [9]. 

Other studies propose that moderate coffee consumption lowers your risk of dementia [10] and age-related cognitive decline [11].

A recent study found a 65% decreased risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s from the consumption of 3-5 cups of coffee per day at midlife [40]. 

Cardiovascular Health

Studies show that drinking coffee on a regular basis may lower your chances of developing atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and hypertension [12]. Drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day could lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease and even delay early death [13]. 

A meta-analysis of 9 cohort studies looked at the association between coffee and stroke risk. Results showed consuming 4 or more cups of coffee daily signifies a preventive effect on stroke risk [39]. This study was the first to examine the meta-analysis and compile results from various studies about coffee and stroke risk. 

Another study examined a meta-analysis of more than 2.4 million men and women, focussing on coffee and stroke risk. The results showed a 21% stroke risk reduction when consuming 3-4 cups of coffee per day [41]. The increasing number of studies examining the effects of coffee on stroke risk are concluding positive results. They suggest coffee is a successful reducer of stroke risk and a valid answer to ‘How good is coffee for you?’. 

Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine, the active ingredient that gives coffee it’s energizing qualities, has been found to offer a surprising array of health benefits of it’s own — but only if used in moderation.

Evidence-based health benefits of caffeine, when used in moderation, include:

  • Improved brain function [14]
  • Increased metabolism and fat burning [15]
  • Greater physical performance [16]
  • Protection against type 2 diabetes [17]
  • Protection against heart disease [18]
  • Better gut health [19]
  • Reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) [20]
  • Lower risk of skin cancer [21]
  • Greater longevity [22]
  • Liver protection [23]

How Much Caffeine is in Vietnamese Coffee? 

Vietnamese coffee uses robusta coffee beans, which have a deep, bold flavor and a unique nutritional profile. They contain almost twice as much caffeine as arabica coffee beans. Robusta is also rich in other key nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium — several of which help regulate the metabolism of caffeine and protect us from its potential side effects.

Just one serving of Vietnamese coffee contains around 66-130 mg of caffeine, depending on the size of the cup. This means you get more caffeine in a single cup of Vietnamese coffee than many other types, such as drip coffee. 

Here’s a chart showing how much caffeine there is in different kinds of coffee. As you can see, Vietnamese coffee has a much higher caffeine content per ounce than any other type of coffee.

Caffeine Levels in Different Types of Coffee:

Type of Coffee

Caffeine Content 

Size of Cup

Caffeine per serving

Vietnamese Coffee

33 mg/oz

2–4 oz

66–130 mg

Espresso Coffee (Single Shot)

75 mg/Shot

1–2 Shots 

75–150 mg

Pour Over

12–20 mg/oz

8 oz

90–160 mg

Cold Brew

12–13 mg/oz

16 oz

197–213 mg

French Press

13–17 mg/oz

8 oz

100–137 mg

Drip Coffee

8–15 mg/oz

8 oz

65–120 mg

Instant Coffee

8–10 mg/oz

8 oz

80–120 mg

Side Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine is a bit of a double-edged sword. While there are many health benefits backed by science, there are some risks for susceptible individuals or those consuming excessive amounts of this alkaloid each day.

Potential side-effects of consuming too much caffeine include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations & tachycardia

Related: Long-Term Effects of Caffeine (Side Effects, Health Benefits, & More)

Potential Health Risks of Vietnamese Coffee

Decades of research suggest that moderate coffee consumption may be good for your physical, mental, and emotional health. However, drinking too much coffee may have negative side effects.

The high levels of caffeine in Vietnamese coffee can help you feel alert and have clear health-promoting effects, but they can also cause side effects if consumed in high amounts. 

The most common side effects of too much caffeine are anxiousness and rapid heart rate — this is because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine (a chemical that makes you feel tired) while boosting the fight-or-flight hormone that gives you extra energy [24]. 

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?

The FDA lists the maximum daily dose of caffeine at around 400 mg. That works out to around 3–4 large Vietnamese coffees per day.

Too much caffeine will result in feelings of anxiousness, rapid heart rate, and, in severe cases, dizziness. 

These effects will wear off after about 1–2 hours and are not life-threatening, but they can be pretty uncomfortable.

Related: Boost or Bust: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?

Health Risks of Condensed Milk

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is mixed with condensed milk to create a deliciously sweet and creamy drink. This type of milk is made by removing just over half the water from cow’s milk [25]. Sugar is then added to increase the thickness and extend its shelf-life [26].

Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional content of condensed milk per ounce:

  • Calories: 130
  • Carbs: 22 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Calcium: 10% of Daily Value (DV)
  • Riboflavin (B2): 10% of DV
  • Sodium: 2% of DV
  • Vitamin A: 2% of DV

Sweetened condensed milk is incredibly high in sugar compared to other types of milk. 

Too much sugar can have negative health implications, including:

  • Weight gain [28]
  • Type 2 diabetes [29]
  • Heart disease [30]
  • Acne [31]
  • Cancer [32]
  • Depression [33]
  • Fatty liver disease [34]

Vietnamese coffee is best enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Our Vietnamese Instant Coffee Range is a fantastic option if you’re looking for something a little better for you. These coffees are dairy-free, gluten-free, and contain zero sugar.

If you love your phin filter and the Vietnamese coffee brewing process too much to switch to instant, you can still make your coffee healthier. Instead of mixing it with sugary condensed milk, consider a lighter substitution. Coconut milk or monkfruit-based sweeteners are great, lower-calorie alternatives.

Related: How Many Calories in Coffee? A Full Breakdown

Healthy Vietnamese Coffee Alternatives

If you remove the condensed milk, Vietnamese coffee is a pretty healthy drink. Black Vietnamese coffee is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates while being high in caffeine and antioxidants.

Our Vietnamese Instant Coffee Range is ideal if you want to introduce healthier choices to your life. These prepared coffee packs are completely sugar-free, making them the perfect choice if you want to cut down on calories without missing out on delicious Vietnamese coffee. 

All our instant Vietnamese coffees are naturally sweetened with monk fruit extract. This balances the coffee's robust taste while helping you avoid the unwanted sugar rush and the inevitable crash that follows.

Cafely Vietnamese Instant Coffee Range comes in the following variations:

  1. Instant Vietnamese Black Coffee — Our strongest coffee yet. Contains no sugar and no dairy.
  2. Instant Vietnamese Milk Coffee — A delicious dairy-free milky coffee made with no added sugar.
  3. Instant Vietnamese Coconut Coffee — A tropical twist on the classic coffee with the same authentic flavor.

FAQs: Vietnamese Coffee & Our Health

1. What is the caffeine content in traditional Vietnamese coffee?

A single serving of Vietnamese coffee contains between 66 and 130 mg of caffeine, depending on the size of the cup. This is more caffeine than many other types of coffee, such as regular drip coffee.

The variety of coffee beans is the reason Vietnamese coffee has so much caffeine. Robusta coffee beans contain almost twice as much caffeine as arabica beans, which are used to make most other kinds of coffee. 

2. Can Vietnamese coffee be part of a healthy diet?

Yes, Vietnamese coffee can form part of a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation, just like everything else. Condensed milk is the only ingredient that is high in sugar in Vietnamese coffee and you can make the drink healthier by using a small amount of condensed milk or substituting it for a more nutritionally valuable alternative.

Coconut milk, cow’s milk, or any dairy-free milk will make a healthier Vietnamese coffee than condensed milk. Just keep in mind that all these alternatives are much thinner than condensed milk, which means the final texture of the coffee won’t be as thick and velvety.

Our Instant Vietnamese Milk Coffee is a great option if you want to lighten up your Vietnamese coffee. It’s dairy-free, contains zero sugar, and tastes just like the real thing.

3. Are there any dairy-free alternatives to traditional Vietnamese coffee?

Yes, products like Cafely Instant Vietnamese Coconut Coffee offer a dairy-free experience while keeping the authentic taste of Vietnamese coffee. Our instant coffee packs are completely sugar-free, too, making them an even healthier alternative.

If you’re feeling creative, you could make your own vegan condensed milk for a dairy-free Vietnamese coffee. All you need is full-fat coconut milk and sugar. 

4. How can I make Vietnamese coffee healthier?

The added condensed milk is the only ingredient that’s high in sugar in Vietnamese coffee. To make the coffee healthier, you can control how much condensed milk you use, use an alternative milk that’s lower in sugar, or make it a different way by using our Instant Coffee Packs

5. What is the best time to consume Vietnamese coffee?

The best time to enjoy Vietnamese coffee is in the morning or the early afternoon. This is because the robusta coffee beans in Vietnamese coffee are very high in caffeine—almost twice as much as arabica coffee beans.

To avoid insomnia and other sleep problems, avoid drinking Vietnamese coffee 6-8 hours before going to bed.

6. Can Vietnamese coffee improve physical performance?

Yes, Vietnamese coffee can improve physical performance. This is primarily due to the high caffeine content of the robusta coffee beans.

Just one serving of Vietnamese coffee can boost physical performance [35], enhance endurance [36], improve focus [37], and increase fat burning [38]. All these potential physical performance benefits make Vietnamese coffee an excellent drink to enjoy before a workout.


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