How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

Last Updated January 29, 2017
Food

Vietnamese coffee filter brewing

A couple of years ago, my husband came home raving about Vietnamese coffee. He’d had a cup while out to lunch with coworkers. He spoke so highly of it that I surprised him with a Vietnamese coffee filter and some coffee.

But I noticed that every time I mentioned Vietnamese coffee to someone, they had never heard of it. Which, in a world of coffee pods, instant coffees and barista brews, probably shouldn’t have surprised me. Vietnamese coffee takes a little effort, but it pays off.

Making Vietnamese coffee requires a special filter called a phin. The filter has several pieces. There’s the main portion that holds the coffee and does the brewing. There’s a large perforated platform that sits on top of the mug onto which the filter is placed. Also, there is a gravity insert or screw down insert plus a lid.

Vietnamese coffee filter phin

To make the coffee, fill the filter with coffee. Place the filter on top of your mug and then add the hot or cold water. The filter has holes in the bottom so as the water filters through, the brewed coffee drips into your cup. It’s a simple concept that isn’t too different than traditional drip coffee.

What makes it a little different are the coffee beans. The roast and the grind are a little different for a Vietnamese coffee. Trung Nguyen Coffee is easily available online. Also, Vietnamese coffee is sweetened in a somewhat unusual way. Before the filter goes on the mug, a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk is added. You can also use vegan options such as sweetened condensed coconut milk, too.

Vietnamese coffee beans

cup of Vietnamese coffee

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

  1. Grind beans to medium coarse grind. Too fine will clog the phin and you’ll get too slow of a drip; too large and water will pass through without brewing.
  2. Fill phin with ground coffee. Level off with a spoon then add the gravity insert. Give the insert a spin to help level off the coffee, too. (Some Vietnamese coffee filters don’t have a gravity insert. Instead they have a screw down insert. This works similarly to the gravity insert.)
  3. Boil water. (Cold water can also be used for an iced Vietnamese coffee.)
  4. Put spoonful of sweetened condensed milk in mug.
  5. Place filled filter on top of mug.
  6. Add a small amount of boiling water to wet the grounds. Wait approximately 30 seconds for the coffee to absorb that water and it to pass through.
  7. Slowly add water to the filter. Place lid on the filter. Allow to coffee to drip brew into mug.