Many coffee drinkers are familiar with straight black drip coffee, thick and concentrated espresso, and milky-sweet and fun latte. Therefore, when coming across a coffee beverage as unique as Thai Iced Coffee that can contain corn, soybeans, and cardamom, most are caught by surprise.
Most commonly known as Thai Iced Coffee, this drink’s original name is โอเลี้ยง, spelt “Oliang” or “Oleang”. Derived from the Teochew Chinese dialect, “โอ” or “O” means black, while “เลี้ยง” or “liang”/”leang” means cold, straightforwardly referring to the iced coffee beverage.
Unlike the iced black coffee brewed with purely coffee beans that most are used to, Oliang incorporates a mixture of different grains, seeds, and spices along with Robusta beans. There are different variations of Oliang blends, but the most common ingredients to make Thai Iced Coffee are cardamom, corn kernels, soybeans, and sesame seeds. The cup is often also served with condensed milk or syrup to balance the bitterness.
Traditionally, tungdtom kaffee, a muslin coffee filter with a metal ring and a handle, is used for making Thai tea and coffee, including Oliang. The coffee blend is roasted together with butter and syrup and put into the filter bag.
Hot water is poured over the ground bed to make a distinctively aromatic and flavorful batch of coffee. The coffee is then poured over the grounds multiple times more until all desirable coffee compounds have been extracted.
But, not everyone can get access to a tungdtom kaffee or roast the ingredients themselves at home. If you cannot buy a drink from the local Thai street vendors, check the recipe below to easily recreate the original and get a taste of Oliang at home. If you want more cafe and street vendor recommendations in Thailand, you should visit Coffee Geek TV.
- 14 g of finely ground dark-roasted coffee
- 3 cardamom pods finely ground
- Espresso machine
- Ice cubes
- Condensed milk
1: Blend the ground coffee and cardamom together in a bowl.
2: Brew 2 shots of espresso with the espresso machine using the coffee blend.
3: Add 2-3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk into the coffee glass and use a spoon to mix. Feel free to add more sugar or condensed milk depending on your taste preference.
4: In a tall glass, add ice cubes. Pour the coffee glass over the ice glass to serve.
Since both drinks use Robusta coffee beans and condensed milk and look similar, some may have a hard time distinguishing the two. The main difference is in the brewing method. While Oliang is made using a sieve-like muslin filter, Vietnamese coffee is made using their unique metal “phin” filter that slowly extracts thick black drip coffee.
Another difference is that Vietnamese’s coffee isn’t as heavily blended with spices and grains as the Thai’s. You might find some using coffee mixed with chicory, but most use plain coffee grounds like the common brew.
Although the best Oliang experience is hitting the streets of Thailand and buying a cup from the local vendor, this simplified yet fulfilling Thai Iced Coffee recipe can spice up your usual coffee routine and bring a breath of fresh air to your hot day. International coffee trailer companies such as vstreetfood.com/coffee-trailers/ sell great Thai Iced Coffee on the go.