Any coffee drinker will agree that one of life’s simple pleasures involves sipping on a sweet iced coffee, no matter the weather. One of the most popular recipes for iced coffee comes from Thailand with a mix of coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and warm spices. It’s sweet, cool, creamy, and delicious.
This article details the steps to take and the ingredients needed to make a Thai iced coffee recipe.
What You Need
- 3 tbsps of Oliang powder
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 2 tbsps of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbsps of evaporated milk
- 2 tsps of granulated white sugar
- Crushed ice
- A pinch of salt (optional)
- A dash of almond extract or vanilla extract or flavored syrup (optional)
At A Glance
Time Of Preparation:
Coffee Drink Yield:
One Thai coffee drink (350 ml)
What Is Thai Ice Coffee?
Thai iced coffee is traditionally called Oliangwhich originates from the combination of the words “O” for black and “Liang” for cold in the Teochew dialect of Thai Chinese people, a minority group that had considerable influence on Thai food and drink (1).
Oliang powder is the main ingredient used to make this Thai coffee recipe. This powder is available for purchase as a pre-made mix online or in most Asian supermarkets.
Oliang powder is made by combining and heating coffee, corn, cardamom, white sesame seeds, soy beans, and rice. Cardamom is a central spice.
The ratios of the ingredients used will vary depending on your personal preferences.
Thai iced coffee recipes are typically brewed using a special filter called a tungdtom. A tungdtom is made from a muslin bag and connected to a metal ring with a handle.
How To Make Authentic Thai Iced Coffee Recipe (Oliang)
At its most basic, Thai iced coffee is just a blend of spice-infused coffee grounds, sweetened condensed milk, and ice. However, you can personalize your tasty treat to be as sweet and flavorful as you’d like. The specific ingredients and ratios used when you make Thai iced coffee are up to you.
If you are eager to experiment with making and tasting some other types of coffee drinks that come close to this delicious brew, check out this list of iced coffees you can make at home. We suggest starting with something called the Black Tie coffee, if you dare to venture into teas in addition to your coffees. It features espresso, so you will still get the caffeine you crave.
Here is a breakdown of how to make your own Thai iced coffee at home, with some suggested modifications.
1. Brew The Thai Coffee
If you have a premade Oliang powder mix, measure 2 to 4 tbsps. We recommend using 3 tbsps to start and then adjusting future brews to your taste.
If you can’t find the premade mix, it’s quick and easy to make your own Oliang powder. Pan-fry 20 to 25 g each of dried soybeans and dried popcorn kernels on low heat until they turn slightly brown. Remove from the heat before adding 5 g of sesame seeds to the pan. Grind this with 50 g of coffee beans or coffee grounds once it cools.
Depending on the coffee used, you can alter your brew’s flavor profile and caffeine content. If possible, prepare your Thai iced coffee using specialty beans from Thailand for the most authentic experience (2).
Add anywhere from ¼ to 1 tsp of cardamom spice to the grounds depending on how spicy you want your Thai iced coffee. You can also add the same amount of cinnamon, pumpkin spice, allspice, nutmeg, or other spices in addition to cardamom.
Put your mix in the tungdtom, or coffee sock, located in a carafe or glass, and pour boiling hot water through it. For a strong Thai coffee, steep for about 5 to 10 minutes or until desired intensity.
Pro tip: If you do not have a tungdtom, you can brew the Oliang mix using a French press or with any other method of immersion brewing. Steep for 10 minutes, as with the tungdtom, to make brewed coffee and proceed with the rest of the steps as outlined below. Be sure to run your brew through some kind of filter, as Oliang powder does not work like instant coffee.
2. Stir In The Sugar And Additional Flavor If Desired
Add granulated white sugar to sweeten your strong brew. We recommend using 2 tsp, but you can adjust this with more or less sweetness depending on your dietary restrictions and personal preferences. Using brown sugar instead will make the brew richer and with more of a molasses flavor.
You can experiment with the taste here beyond just adding sugar. For example, a pinch of salt can neutralize some of the coffee’s inherent bitterness, meaning you won’t need to add as much milk and sugar. Most importantly, stir, stir, stir!
Pro tip: For extra flavor, try a dash of almond or vanilla extract to personalize your drink. A splash of any kind of flavored syrup also works well. If you don’t have white sugar, try alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, or coconut sugar.
3. Pour The Sweet Coffee Over Ice And Mix In The Desired Milk
Fill your cup with crushed ice or ice cubes, and pour your sweet brew over it. Add 1 to 3 tbsps of sweetened condensed milk and another 1 to 3 tbsps of evaporated milk. We recommend using 2 tbsps of each to start. Alternatively, you can add the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk first and let the glass chill with ice before pouring in the brewed coffee.
If you want to add creaminess, try heavy cream, half and half, or other types of cream – either standalone or with the types of milk and their amounts already mentioned. You’d be surprised how milky and sweet they make this drink in Thailand (3).
You can add as much or as little milk or cream as you want to this recipe. Only through experimentation will you find the best fit for you.
Pro tip: Use full-fat coconut milk with a sweetener like maple syrup or coconut sugar as a substitute for sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk if you want to make a vegan version of this recipe (4). Just be sure that you like the taste of coconut because it is a strong flavor. For a more mild-flavored vegan alternative, consider oat or soy-based milk.
4. Serve Immediately And Enjoy!
Serve and enjoy this delicious coffee!
This recipe makes for an iced coffee experience that is endlessly customizable. Think of this recipe card as a guide rather than a strict set of rules. Whether you choose to fill your glass with more cream, more spice, or more milk, the possibilities are endless for your Thai coffee!
Pro tip: For an aesthetically pleasing chilled brew, top your final coffee with more evaporated milk and watch how it cascades to the bottom of your glass. Totally social media-worthy!
Thailand iced coffee is a wonderful and simple recipe to enjoy at home. All you need is cubed ice, hot water, Oliang powder, sweetener, milk, and any other personalized touches of your choice.
Let us know how you enjoyed this article (and the Thai iced coffee drink you hopefully made alongside reading it) in the comment section. Did you snap a swoon-worthy photo of your Thai iced coffee? Be sure to tag us on Instagram!
Why is Thai iced coffee so good?
Thai iced coffee is so good because of its characteristic spices. The main warm spice flavor comes from ground cardamom, which is typically mixed with ground coffee beans before brewing the coffee to get the most flavor.
If you want to make your own, you can experiment with different coffee beans to enhance the brew’s flavor profile. We recommend using Robusta beans to get a nice complimentary chocolatey taste and strong coffee flavor, but only if you can find high-quality ones.
Is Thai iced coffee healthy?
Thai iced coffee is healthy when served black, but the richer sweetened versions are more common. These are best consumed in moderation because the addition of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and sugar makes them high in sugar, calories, and saturated fat. Think of it as more of an occasional treat than a morning must-have.
What is the difference between Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced coffee?
The main difference between Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced coffee is the brewing method used. Iced Vietnamese coffee uses a metal filter, or “phin” decanter, set up as a special dripper above a serving cup, whereas Bangkok iced coffee uses a muslin filter that steeps and strains coffee through a cloth bag.
They also have different flavor profiles. Thai blends have cardamom and seeds, while the popular Vietnamese coffee blends feature chicory.
- Sher, I. (nd). Clash of “Chailand.” Retrieved from https://thenewgastronome.com/clash-of-chailand/
- BK City Living. (2018). Bangkok’s best baristas explain why coffee from Northern Thailand is so special. Retrieved from https://bk.asia-city.com/city-living/news/bangkoks-best-baristas-explain-why-coffee-northern-thailand-so-special
- Palahan, R. (2018, March 8). Coffee & Culture: Thailand. Retrieved from https://beanvoyagecoffee.medium.com/coffee-culture-thailand-322390cf624b
- Seitz, S. (2021, August 27). 3 Best Vegan Substitutes for Sweetened Condensed Milk. Retrieved September 4, 2022, from https://cleangresimple.com/article/condensed-milk-substitute/