Vietnamese coffee bean types – All information you need to know


There are 3 main Vietnamese coffee bean types and each one offers a different coffee flavor to satisfy different tastes. Let’s explore what are they with K-Agriculture.

History of Vietnamese coffee bean types

Vietnamese coffee bean types have been in Vietnam for a long time since the 19th century. After hundreds of years, coffee has become a cultural speciality of Vietnam and left a special mark on the whole world.

The first origin of Vietnamese coffee bean types

The first Vietnamese coffee bean type appeared in 1857 when French missionaries brought coffee plants to experiment in some northern provinces of Vietnam such as Thanh Hoa, Ninh Binh, and Ha Nam; and then spread to some central provinces, such as Quang Tri and Quang Binh. Finally, coffee was brought to the Southern provinces of the Central Highlands and the Southeast.


The first origin of Vietnamese coffee bean types

Vietnamese coffee bean types in the 20th century

In the early stages, Arabica was the only type of coffee and was grown mainly in the North. It was later discovered that the Central Highlands was the most suitable place to grow coffee. Nearly 50 years later, the two remaining Vietnamese coffee bean types, Robusta and Excelsa, were brought to Vietnam and planted by the French in the Central Highlands.


Vietnamese coffee bean types in the 20th century

After many years of cultivation, Robusta beans have proven themselves to be the most suitable Vietnamese coffee bean type for natural conditions in Vietnam as they have grown and given good yield in the Central Highlands. Meanwhile, although Excelsa grows well, the economic value is low and Arabica has not obtained good results because it is easily infected with pests and is not suitable for Vietnam’s terrain.

See more: Things to know before buying Vietnamese coffee beans online

Vietnamese coffee bean types until now

Since 1986, the Vietnamese government has focused its investment resources on the coffee sector, aiming to turn coffee into a key agricultural sector of the country. As a result, Vietnamese coffee bean production has exploded in terms of scale, output, and export value. Since the 1990s, Vietnam’s coffee production has grown by an average of 25% over the years, of which Robusta beans account for 95%. According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, this country has exported 1.25 million tons of Vietnamese coffee bean types, equivalent to $2.16 billion, thereby helping it maintain the number 2 position in terms of coffee exports.


Vietnamese coffee bean types until now

Characteristics of Vietnamese coffee bean types

As mentioned, there are 3 main Vietnamese coffee bean types: Arabica, Robusta, and Excelsa. South American coffee has clean, fruity, bright, acidic notes; acidity and fruity notes are typical flavors of African coffee, while Vietnamese coffee beans have bold characteristics of Asian lands with earthy or smoky profiles.

Arabica coffee beans – Highest value among Vietnamese coffee bean types

About 0.1 million tons of Arabica coffee beans are produced in Vietnam each year, accounting for 5% of Vietnam’s total coffee production.

  • Name

Arabica coffee beans can be called in many ways. In Vietnam, its name is “Ca phe che” due to the small stem, foliage, and low top of the coffee trees. In addition, Arabica coffee is also called Brazilian Milds if it comes from Brazil, Colombian Milds if it comes from Colombia, and Other Milds if it comes from other countries, including Vietnam.

  • Cultivation conditions

Among Vietnamese coffee bean types, Arabica coffee beans live in the highest mountainous areas. It is usually grown at an altitude of 1000-1500m and prefers a temperature from 16-25°C with rainfall over 1000mm. Arabica coffee berries are oval, each containing two coffee beans. Vietnamese Arabica coffee beans can be harvested after 3 to 4 years of planting. Usually, a 25-year-old coffee tree is considered to be old and cannot be harvested anymore, despite the fact that this Vietnamese coffee bean type can live up to 20 years more.


Cultivation conditions of Arabica coffee

  • Economical characteristics

Arabica coffee beans are the most economically valuable species of Vietnamese coffee bean types. In the coffee trading market, Arabica coffee beans are valued higher than Robusta coffee beans because they have a more delicious taste and contain less caffeine content. Moreover, Arabica is susceptible to insect attacks, it is not as economical as growing Robusta coffee. But the demand for Arabica is bigger because it is the main ingredient in typical coffee dishes such as Espresso, Cappuccino,… Therefore, the economic value of Arabica coffee is much higher than that of Robusta.


Economical characteristics of Arabica coffee

A bag of Arabica coffee beans (60 kg) usually costs twice as much as a bag of Robusta coffee beans. The price of FOB Arabica coffee beans in Vietnam ranges from about $4,000 – $10,000 per ton depending on its quality. In particular, Vietnamese Arabica specialty coffee has the highest price because of its unique flavor, error-free beans, as well as the standards of cultivation, processing, and preparation that are all assessed according to SCA’s standards.

Robusta coffee beans – Most popular among Vietnamese coffee bean types

Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter in the world, but among Vietnamese coffee bean types, the main product is Robusta coffee with about 1.8 million tons per year, accounting for over 90% of annually Vietnamese coffee output.

  • Name

Robusta coffee in Vietnam is called “Ca phe voi” and is produced the most in Vietnam. Currently, Vietnam’s Robusta coffee accounts for more than 40% of the world’s coffee production, contributing to making Vietnam the second coffee exporting country in the world.

  • Cultivation conditions

Mature Robusta coffee bean trees can grow up to 10m tall. Coffee berries are usually in circular or egg shape, the coffee cherries are smaller than Arabica coffee beans. The caffeine content in Robusta coffee beans is about 2-4%, while it is only about 1-2% in Arabica. Like Arabica coffee beans, Robusta coffee beans trees from 3 to 4 years old can be harvested and usually produce coffee beans for about 20 to 30 years. The favorable condition for growing this Vietnamese coffee bean type is on the tropical mountain peaks with an altitude of 600-1000m above sea level. Robusta coffee beans prefer a temperature range of 24-29°C with a rainfall of over 1,000 mm. All of these are consistent with the natural conditions of the Central Highlands, thereby turning this place into the largest Vietnam Robusta green coffee beans production land.


Cultivation conditions of Robusta coffee

  • Economical characteristics

Because of the high caffeine content of the coffee beans, the taste and purity of Robusta coffee beans are not as appreciated as Arabica coffee beans. The price of Vietnamese Robusta coffee beans is usually only half of Arabica coffee beans, about $3,000 – 4,000 per ton.


Economical characteristics of Robusta coffee

Excelsa coffee beans – The rarest among Vietnamese coffee bean types

Excelsa coffee beans have the lowest productivity among the main Vietnamese coffee bean types, so many people do not pay attention to their existence. But with coffee farmers, Excelsa coffee trees are strong “protective shields” for coffee plantations.

  • Name

The last Vietnamese coffee bean type is Excelsa. The Excelsa coffee tree has a large trunk and wide leaves. It looks very similar to a jackfruit tree from afar, so in Vietnam, Excelsa is also known as “Ca phe mit”. Excelsa is classified as a sub-species of Liberica due to many similarities.

  • Cultivation conditions

Excelsa coffee beans grow best at an altitude of 1000-1300m above sea level, their suitable temperature is 16 to 29°C, and the required rainfall is 1000-1500mm. Excelsa coffee bean trees can reach a maximum height of 20m. The trunk, leaves, and coffee berries are all big, completely different from those of Robusta coffee beans. The tree is drought tolerant, requires little water, so it is often extensively planted, however, because of the poor productivity and strong sour taste, it was not popular and developed in the area. In the Central Highlands, this Vietnamese coffee bean type is harvested later than other coffee species because it needs rain water to bloom. Thanks to its characteristics of good growth and tolerance to harsh conditions, Excelsa coffee bean trees are often planted in rows with a distance of 5-7m per tree as a windbreak forest belt for Robusta crops.


Cultivation conditions of Excelsa coffee

  • Economical characteristics

Due to its high caffeine content and poor taste, Excelsa coffee beans is the lowest value among the three Vietnamese coffee bean types and it accounts for only a very small part of world coffee production. In addition to shielding the coffee plantations, Excelsa coffee is often mixed with Arabica and Robusta when roasting to diversify the flavor.


Economical characteristics of Excelsa coffee

Which Vietnamese coffee bean types should you choose?

There are no absolute recommendations for this question. Different coffee beans will satisfy different tastes, so it is important that you know exactly what you like. Think about how you want your coffee to be – hot or cold, sweet or bitter. Typically, if you prefer warm, sweet, and well-balanced coffee, then products made from Arabica beans like Cappuccino will be an ideal choice. If you are a fan of coffee with ice, immersed in the cool, refreshing, and bold taste, then you should consider Robusta, the soul of the famous traditional Vietnamese iced coffee. Drinking coffee is all about finding what suits you, so try different things and enjoy your discovery.


Which Vietnamese coffee bean types should you choose?

If you want to learn more about Vietnamese coffee or start to run a coffee trading company, please check out the website of K-Agriculture – one of the best agricultural factories or contact me at +84855 555 837 (WhatsApp available)

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About author Camila Nguyen

She has 13 years experience in connecting B2B customers around the world and provide best-quality agricultural products from Vietnam to them. She would love to share her knowledge about agricultural products through the blogs. You can contact her on Whatsapp via number: +84 84 4444 867 to get the free consultancy

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