Thai Coffee 101: All About Oliang

Oliang, which is also sometimes spelled as “Oleang,” is a traditional Thai iced coffee beverage that differs in many ways from the super-sweetened iced coffee that other parts of the world have come to know.

This coffee is named for the Teochew dialect that many Thai Chinese individuals speak. “O” means “black” and “Liang” means “cold” in this dialect. As you can imagine, this means that Oliang is a black iced coffee drink. Oliang has been likened to the Americano beverage that’s been popularized by brands like Starbucks, but the production process is different and the resulting flavor slightly more bitter than what one would expect of an Americano.

Preparation

Oliang coffee is a blend of numerous coffee types and is typically sold in a powdered format. It is brewed with a thung tom kafae, a filter that’s been made from a muslin bag. This type of filter is commonly used in the creation of Thai iced teas, as well. The bag is then attached to a metal ring with a handle for the brewing process.

Depending on the drinker’s preference, there are a slew of ingredients that can be – and commonly are – added to the coffee concoction, including:

    • Sesame seeds
    • Sugar
    • Soy beans
    • Corn
    • Roasted rice
    • Caramel
    • Brown sugar
    • Cardamom

The addition of milk is not uncommon, but this actually morphs the Oliang into a different coffee beverage altogether: Café Boran. Café Boran is often enjoyed as a part of a porridge-based breakfast.

Different Variations of Oliang Coffee

Oliang can be served in a number of ways and is often served with a side of evaporated or condensed milk. However, when the coffee is enjoyed in one of these ways it is not uncommon for it to be referred to by a different name.

Oliang, for example, is the simple black coffee served on ice. When served with condensed milk, it is called “gopi.” If the Oliang is served with fresh milk it is referred to as an “Oliang-yoklo” beverage. Some of these variations may taste very similar to what Westerners refer to simply as “iced coffee” due to the added sweetness of the milk-based condiments.

Oliang is a traditional Thai coffee that has been enjoyed by residents of the country for years. It is also widely appreciated by those who take origin tours of coffee-producing countries and want to savor the flavors of the world beyond their homes.