From Concentrate to Cup: Unleashing the Flavors of Vietnamese Coffee

Discover the captivating world of Vietnamese coffee as we delve into its unique brewing method and unparalleled flavor profile. From the traditional phin filter to the ideal water-to-coffee ratio, we’ll unlock the secrets to brewing the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee. Whether you prefer it hot or iced, with sweetened condensed milk or other traditional condiments, this article will guide you through the essentials of unlocking the rich flavors that make Vietnamese coffee truly exceptional.

Key Facts

  1. Vietnamese Coffee is renowned for its unique brewing method and distinct flavor profile.
  2. The traditional Vietnamese coffee maker is called a phin filter, which consists of a metal or plastic chamber with a perforated bottom, a filter press, and a lid.
  3. The phin filter produces a concentrated brew by allowing hot water to slowly drip through the coffee grounds, extracting the flavor and aroma.
  4. Medium-coarse ground coffee beans are recommended for brewing Vietnamese Coffee in a phin filter to achieve optimal extraction without bitterness.
  5. The ideal water-to-coffee ratio for brewing Vietnamese Coffee in a phin filter is approximately 1:2, meaning one part coffee to two parts water.
  6. To avoid watered-down coffee, it is important to use the correct grind size, maintain the proper water-to-coffee ratio, and avoid steeping the coffee for too long.
  7. Vietnamese Coffee can be served hot or iced, and many people add sweetened condensed milk or other traditional Vietnamese coffee condiments to enhance the flavor.
  8. Troubleshooting common issues while brewing Vietnamese Coffee with a phin filter includes addressing slow dripping, bitter taste, and weak coffee by adjusting the grind size, brewing time, or amount of coffee used.
  9. Vietnamese Coffee brewing can be personalized and adapted to create variations such as iced Vietnamese Coffee or egg coffee.

The Art of Brewing Vietnamese Coffee

The traditional method of brewing Vietnamese coffee involves using a phin filter, a small metal device with a perforated bottom and a screw-on top. This method produces a strong and flavorful brew.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Boil half a cup of water.
  2. Place the filter cup in an empty saucer and add two tablespoons of water.
  3. Remove the coffee press from the filter cup and spoon in 3 teaspoons of coffee powder (medium coarse ground).
  4. Replace the filter and gently press to settle the coffee powder.
  5. Add 20ml of boiling water into the filter cup, cover, and let it absorb the water for approximately three minutes.
  6. Place the cup on top of a tall slim glass, remove the lid, and add boiling water to fill the cup.
  7. Allow the coffee to slowly drip into the glass for around six to eight minutes.
  8. Once all the water has dripped down, spoon in one to two tablespoons of condensed milk.
  9. Top the glass with ice cubes and serve with a long-stemmed stirrer.
  10. To drink, push the stirrer down the side of the glass and gently agitate the condensed milk to mix with the coffee.

Tips for the Perfect Brew:

  • Use medium or dark roast coffee beans for a balanced flavor.
  • Use a medium grind to ensure easy filtering of the grinds.
  • Look for higher-quality, single-origin coffee beans for a cleaner taste.
  • Take your time and be patient during the brewing process.
  • Experiment with the amount of condensed milk to adjust the sweetness and creaminess of the coffee.

Exploring Vietnamese Coffee Varieties

Vietnam is known for its diverse coffee varieties, each with its unique flavor profile.

Popular Coffee Varieties:

  • Robusta: The most common coffee variety in Vietnam, robusta is known for its strong, nutty, and earthy flavor.
  • Arabica: Less common but gaining popularity, arabica coffee offers a more complex flavor profile, with fruity, citrusy, and light characteristics.
  • Other Varieties: Unique and lesser-known varieties include cherry coffee (mild sour taste), weasel coffee (smoother and richer), and elephant coffee (softening and mellowing effect).

Flavor Profiles:

  • Robusta: Bold flavor with notes of chocolate, nuts, and earthiness.
  • Arabica: Complex flavor profile with fruity, citrusy, and light characteristics.
  • Other Varieties:
    • Cherry coffee: Mild sour taste
    • Weasel coffee: Smoother and richer
    • Elephant coffee: Softening and mellowing effect

Choosing Coffee Beans:

  • Flavor Preference: Robusta beans for a stronger flavor, arabica beans for a more complex flavor.
  • Experimentation: Try different varieties (e.g., Catimor, Bourbon, Typica) to explore unique flavors.
  • Brewing Method: Consider the brewing method when selecting coffee beans, as different varieties may perform differently.

Enhancing the Flavor with Condensed Milk

Condensed milk plays a crucial role in Vietnamese coffee culture, adding sweetness and creaminess to balance the bitterness of the coffee beans.

Tips for Using Condensed Milk:

  • Stir the coffee and condensed milk blend thoroughly to enhance the flavor.
  • Adding a few ice cubes can accentuate the unique combination of bitter coffee, savory salt, and the richness of condensed milk.

Non-Dairy Alternatives:

For those who prefer non-dairy alternatives, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk can be used as substitutes for condensed milk. However, these alternatives may result in a comparatively watery texture and may not provide the same luscious creaminess as condensed milk.

Pairing Vietnamese Coffee with Traditional Treats

Vietnamese coffee pairs well with a variety of traditional snacks and desserts, including:

Sweet Treats:

  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • French toast
  • Pastries
  • Sweet desserts

Recommended Flavor Pairings:

  • Little Green Cyclo’s Classic Vietnamese coffee: Pairs well with waffles, pancakes, and French toast.
  • Tonkin Specialty Coffee’s bold and robust Vietnamese coffee: Pairs well with Banh Mi for an energizing breakfast.
  • Tonkin Specialty Coffee’s Egg Coffee: Pairs well with Che, a traditional Vietnamese sweet soup, for a delightful midday treat.
  • Tonkin Specialty Coffee’s Iced Coffee: Pairs well with Kem Bo, Vietnamese coconut ice cream, for a cool and invigorating balance.
  • Vietnamese Black Coffee: Pairs well with Xoi, a sticky rice dessert, for an elegant and satisfying end to the day.

Modern Twists on Vietnamese Coffee

In recent years, Vietnamese coffee has experienced a surge in popularity, leading to creative twists and adaptations of traditional recipes.

Contemporary Variations:

  • Cold Brew Vietnamese Coffee: Traditional Vietnamese coffee is brewed hot, but cold brew methods have emerged, resulting in a smoother and less acidic coffee.
  • Modern Drip Machines: Modern drip machines offer convenience and precision, allowing for consistent brewing of Vietnamese coffee.

Flavor and Ingredient Experiments:

  • Spices: Cinnamon and cardamom are popular spice additions, enhancing the coffee’s flavor profile.
  • Alternative Sweeteners: Honey and maple syrup provide natural sweetness, replacing condensed milk in some variations.
  • Plant-Based Milk: Almond and oat milk offer dairy-free alternatives, creating creamy and flavorful coffee drinks.
  • Coconut Milk, Chocolate, and Alcohol: These ingredients add unique and indulgent flavors to Vietnamese coffee.

Innovative Coffee Shops:

  • Paradise Coffee Roasters: Known for their Nitro Vietnamese Coffee, a cold brew infused with nitrogen for a creamy and refreshing texture.
  • Omni: Offers a variety of Vietnamese coffee creations, including the Ca Phe Sua Da, a cold coffee with condensed milk and ice.


Indulge in the world of Vietnamese coffee and experience its distinct flavors like never before. With the traditional phin filter, the right grind size, and the perfect water-to-coffee ratio, you can unlock the essence of Vietnamese coffee in every sip. Whether you savor it hot or enjoy it over ice, the addition of sweetened condensed milk or exploring unique variations, Vietnamese coffee offers a journey of taste that will leave you captivated. So, embark on this flavorful adventure and elevate your coffee experience with the enchanting brew of Vietnamese coffee.


What is Vietnamese coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is a strong, flavorful coffee made with dark-roasted Robusta beans and traditionally brewed using a phin filter.

What is the traditional way to brew Vietnamese coffee?

The traditional way to brew Vietnamese coffee is to use a phin filter, a small metal device with a perforated bottom and a screw-on top. The coffee grounds are placed in the filter, and hot water is poured over them. The coffee slowly drips into a cup or pot below.

What is the difference between Vietnamese coffee and other types of coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is typically stronger and more bitter than other types of coffee, due to the use of dark-roasted Robusta beans. It also has a unique flavor profile, with notes of chocolate, nuts, and earthiness.

How do you drink Vietnamese coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is typically served hot or iced, and it is often sweetened with condensed milk. It can also be enjoyed black or with other sweeteners, such as sugar or honey.

What are some popular Vietnamese coffee drinks?

Some popular Vietnamese coffee drinks include:

  • Ca phe sua da: Iced coffee with condensed milk
  • Ca phe trung: Egg coffee
  • Ca phe cot dua: Coconut coffee
  • Ca phe den da: Black iced coffee