What Makes Thai Iced Coffee Special?

Thai iced coffee — also known as oliang — transcends the boundaries of ordinary caffeinated drinks. With its unique combination of ingredients and preparation method, it's an artful blend of tradition and innovation in a single, refreshing glass. At the heart of oliang lies the robust and aromatic coffee beans, which are cultivated in the fertile soils of Thailand. Often a blend of Arabica and Robusta varieties, the beans contribute a bold and nuanced profile as they undergo a meticulous roasting process, imparting a rich, caramelized undertone that distinguishes Thai coffee from its counterparts.

The history of oliang is arguably as rich as its taste. Coffee first became a major part of the Thai beverage scene during the early 20th century, when King Rama V introduced Indonesian coffee plants to the local soil. Residents of the Land of Smiles soon fell in love with the buzzy refreshment, in which they imparted their own twist to amplify the flavor. The true magic of Thai iced coffee lies in the incorporation of sweetened condensed milk. Its velvety viscosity intertwines with the robust bitterness of the coffee, creating a decadent, creamy elixir that strikes a delicate balance between indulgence and sophistication. It was this addition of condensed milk, a longstanding staple in Thai cuisine, that transformed the basic pick-me-up into the nation's signature iced coffee. 

Thai iced coffee is a delightful, sweet treat

What elevates oliang to a realm of its own is the fusion of ground spices, most notably cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. The warm spices, along with a splash of vanilla extract if desired, offer a subtle yet distinctive fragrance that lingers with each sip. The presentation of Thai iced coffee is a mesmerizing art form. Served over a generous amount of crushed ice, the contrasting layers of the strongly brewed dark coffee and the swirling condensed milk create a visual allure that foreshadows the delightful symphony of flavors that await.

In the bustling streets of Thailand, where vendors and coffee shops abound, oliang embodies the spirit of the country's hospitality and creativity. The ritual of savoring a Thai iced coffee has become a moment to treasure for natives and tourists alike, a chance to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into every cup. Well beyond its borders, oliang has become a global sensation. Its unique formula appeals to coffee enthusiasts worldwide.