The Art Of Brewing Vietnamese Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide

Vietnamese coffee, also known as cà phê in Vietnamese, is a strong and highly aromatic coffee that has gained popularity worldwide. The unique brewing method and use of condensed milk give Vietnamese coffee its distinct flavor and rich texture. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about the history of Vietnamese coffee, the ingredients and tools needed to make it, the process of choosing the right beans, and step-by-step instructions for making delicious Vietnamese coffee at home.

Quick Answer: How To Make Vietnam Coffee

To make Vietnam coffee, you will need the following ingredients and tools:

  • Vietnamese coffee filter (phin)
  • Coarsely ground dark roast coffee
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Boiling water
  • Ice (for iced coffee, optional)

Here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. Place the condensed milk in the bottom of a glass.
  2. Add the coffee to the Vietnamese coffee filter and place it over the glass.
  3. Pour a small amount of hot water to bloom the coffee.
  4. Fill the filter with hot water and allow the coffee to drip into the glass.
  5. Stir the coffee and condensed milk together.
  6. Add ice if making iced coffee.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the details of each step and learn more about the history and importance of Vietnamese coffee.

The History Of Vietnamese Coffee

The history of coffee in Vietnam dates back to the late 19th century when the French introduced coffee cultivation to the country. Vietnam’s ideal climate and fertile soil proved to be conducive to coffee production, leading to the establishment of vast coffee plantations in the central highlands of the country.

One of the most famous varieties of Vietnamese coffee is "cà phê sữa đá," which translates to "iced milk coffee." This iconic drink became popular during the French colonial period when condensed milk was used as a substitute for fresh milk, due to its longer shelf life in the tropical climate.

Vietnamese coffee culture also has deep roots in the traditional method of using a small metal filter, known as a "phin," to brew coffee. This slow-drip brewing process allows for a strong and intense extraction, resulting in a highly concentrated and flavorful brew.

The combination of French influence, local ingredients, and traditional brewing methods has made Vietnamese coffee renowned for its bold flavor and creamy texture, distinguishing it in the global coffee landscape.

Ingredients And Tools Needed For Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese Coffee Filter (Phin)

The Vietnamese coffee filter, or phin, is an essential tool for brewing authentic Vietnamese coffee. It consists of a perforated insert that sits on top of a brewing chamber and a lid to hold the grounds in place while allowing water to drip through. The phin is designed for single servings and provides a slow extraction process that enhances the flavors of the coffee.

Coarsely Ground Dark Roast Coffee

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is made using coarsely ground dark roast coffee, which contributes to its bold and intense flavor profile. The coarse grind allows for a slow extraction in the phin, resulting in a robust and aromatic brew. The use of dark roast coffee is crucial in achieving the signature smoky and chocolatey notes that define Vietnamese coffee.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk is a key ingredient in Vietnamese coffee, providing a rich and creamy sweetness that complements the strong coffee flavors. The condensed milk also lends a velvety texture to the drink, making it an integral part of the traditional cà phê sữa đá.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is used to brew the coffee in the Vietnamese coffee filter, allowing for a slow drip process that extracts the flavors from the coarsely ground coffee. The water should be at the correct temperature to ensure optimal extraction and a well-balanced brew.

Ice (Optional For Iced Coffee)

If you prefer your Vietnamese coffee cold, you can add ice to the drink after mixing the brewed coffee with the condensed milk. This creates the popular Vietnamese iced coffee, offering a refreshing and indulgent treat, especially on warm days.

Choosing The Right Beans For Vietnamese Coffee

Selecting the right beans is crucial to achieving the authentic and rich flavor profile of Vietnamese coffee. When choosing coffee beans for Vietnamese coffee, there are certain characteristics to consider:

Dark Roast

Opt for dark roast coffee beans to capture the bold and intense flavors that are characteristic of Vietnamese coffee. The dark roast brings out smoky, caramelly, and chocolatey undertones, contributing to the distinctive taste profile of cà phê sữa đá.

Robusta Or Robusta Blend

Vietnamese coffee is often made using Robusta coffee beans or a Robusta blend. Robusta beans are favored for their high caffeine content and bold, earthy flavors. Additionally, they have a natural resistance to pests and diseases, making them well-suited for cultivation in Vietnam’s coffee-growing regions.


Choose freshly roasted coffee beans to ensure maximum flavor and aroma in your Vietnamese coffee. Freshly roasted beans retain their full-bodied flavors and aromatic compounds, which enhance the overall brewing experience.


For an authentic Vietnamese coffee experience, consider sourcing coffee beans that are specifically labeled or marketed as suitable for making Vietnamese coffee. These beans are often selected or roasted with the unique requirements of Vietnamese coffee in mind, ensuring a genuine and satisfying brew.

By considering these factors, you can ensure that you are using the right beans to create a true-to-form Vietnamese coffee experience at home.

Vietnamese coffee holds a special place in the world of coffee culture, with its rich history, distinctive flavors, and unique brewing method. By understanding the origins of Vietnamese coffee, gathering the necessary ingredients and tools, and selecting the right beans, you can embark on a flavorful journey to create your own delicious cà phê sữa đá at home.

The combination of bold, dark roast coffee, creamy condensed milk, and the slow-drip brewing process of the Vietnamese coffee filter results in a beverage that is both indulgent and satisfying. Whether enjoyed hot or cold, Vietnamese coffee offers a sensory experience that reflects the traditions, flavors, and craftsmanship of this beloved beverage. With the knowledge and techniques provided in this guide, you can now confidently prepare and savor the exquisite flavors of Vietnamese coffee in the comfort of your own home.

Traditional Brewing Methods For Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee, also known as cà phê đá, is a unique and delicious coffee beverage that has become popular worldwide. Known for its rich and strong flavor, Vietnamese coffee is made using a distinctive brewing method and often served with condensed milk or egg.

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Vietnamese coffee is typically made using a filter called a phin, which is a small metal coffee dripper that sits on top of a cup or mug. This traditional brewing method allows for a slow extraction process, resulting in a rich and flavorful coffee.

The main ingredient in Vietnamese coffee is a dark roast coffee. The most commonly used coffee beans are Robusta, which are known for their strong and bold flavor. Robusta beans are typically grown in the central highland regions of Vietnam and are perfect for the unique brewing method.

Step-by-Step Guide For Making Vietnamese Coffee

To make Vietnamese coffee, you will need the following ingredients and equipment:

  • Vietnamese coffee beans (preferably Robusta)
  • Phin filter
  • Condensed milk (optional)
  • Hot water
  • Ice (for iced coffee)

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making Vietnamese coffee:

  1. Start by grinding the coffee beans to a medium-fine consistency. The grind size should be finer than what you would use for a drip coffee maker but coarser than espresso. This will allow for optimal extraction in the phin filter.

  2. Once you have your coffee grounds ready, remove the top cap of the phin filter and add about 2-3 tablespoons of coffee to the chamber. Use the press to gently compress the coffee grounds, creating a level surface.

  3. Place the phin filter on top of your cup or mug. Make sure that the chamber sits directly on the rim and is stable.

  4. Boil water and let it cool slightly (around 95°C/203°F). Pour a small amount of hot water into the chamber and let the coffee "bloom" for about 20-30 seconds. This process allows the coffee to release its flavors and aromas.

  5. After the blooming process, fill the chamber with hot water and put the top cap on. Allow the coffee to steep for about 4-5 minutes. The slow dripping process is what gives Vietnamese coffee its distinct flavor.

  6. Once the coffee has finished dripping, remove the phin filter and set it aside. Your Vietnamese coffee is now ready to be enjoyed.

  7. If you prefer your coffee iced, simply fill a glass with ice and pour the freshly brewed hot coffee over it. Stir well and let the ice melt slightly to dilute the coffee and chill it. You can then add condensed milk or other sweeteners to taste.

Tips For Perfecting The Brewing Process

While the brewing process itself is relatively simple, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure that you make the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee every time:

  1. Use freshly roasted coffee beans: For the best flavor, use freshly roasted coffee beans. Stale beans can result in a lackluster cup of coffee.

  2. Grind the coffee correctly: The grind size is crucial in Vietnamese coffee. Make sure it is medium-fine to allow for optimal extraction without clogging the phin filter.

  3. Water temperature: It’s important to use hot water that is around 95°C/203°F. This will help extract the flavors from the coffee grounds without scorching them. If the water is too hot, it can result in a bitter cup of coffee.

  4. Steeping time: The recommended steeping time for Vietnamese coffee is around 4-5 minutes. However, you can adjust this depending on your preferences. If you prefer a stronger coffee, you can extend the steeping time.

  5. Experiment with different coffee-to-water ratios: The amount of coffee and water you use can affect the strength and flavor of your coffee. You can adjust the ratio to find the perfect balance for your taste.

  6. Clean the phin filter regularly: Coffee oils can build up in the phin filter over time, affecting the flavor of your coffee. Make sure to clean the filter thoroughly after each use to prevent any residue from altering the taste.

Variations Of Vietnamese Coffee: Adding Condensed Milk Or Egg

While traditional Vietnamese coffee is enjoyed black, it is also common to add condensed milk or egg to enhance the flavor and sweetness. These variations add a creamy and indulgent touch to an already delectable beverage.

Adding Condensed Milk

To make Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, you will need:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Vietnamese coffee
  • Phin filter
  • Hot water

Follow these steps to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk:

  1. Prepare your coffee using the traditional brewing method explained earlier.

  2. In a separate cup, add a spoonful or two of condensed milk. The amount can be adjusted according to your desired sweetness.

  3. Once the coffee has finished dripping, slowly pour it over the condensed milk. The heat from the coffee will help dissolve and mix the condensed milk.

  4. Stir the coffee and condensed milk together until well combined. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more condensed milk if desired.

  5. Your Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk is ready to be enjoyed. The combination of bold coffee and creamy condensed milk creates a delightful balance of flavors.

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Adding Egg (Egg Coffee)

Egg coffee, also known as cà phê trứng, is a unique and decadent variation of Vietnamese coffee. The egg mixture adds a rich and velvety texture to the coffee, resulting in a creamy and luxurious drink.

To make Vietnamese egg coffee, you will need:

For the egg mixture:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

For the coffee:

  • Vietnamese coffee
  • Phin filter
  • Hot water

Follow these steps to make a delicious cup of Vietnamese egg coffee:

  1. Start by preparing your coffee using the traditional brewing method mentioned earlier. Set it aside once it has finished dripping.

  2. In a mixing bowl, add the egg yolk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract (if using). Whisk the mixture vigorously until it becomes frothy and creamy. The condensed milk helps sweeten the mixture and adds a velvety texture.

  3. Take a glass or mug and fill it about halfway with the brewed coffee.

  4. Gently pour the egg mixture over the coffee, allowing it to float on top. The contrast of the coffee and creamy egg layer creates a visually appealing presentation.

  5. Give the coffee and egg mixture a gentle stir to combine the flavors. The creamy texture of the egg mixture will blend beautifully with the bold flavors of the Vietnamese coffee.

  6. Your Vietnamese egg coffee is now ready to be savored. The combination of the smooth and sweet egg layer with the robust coffee creates a truly indulgent experience.

Vietnamese coffee is a delightful and unique beverage that offers a bold and rich flavor profile. By following the traditional brewing methods using a phin filter, you can create a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee in the comfort of your own home. Whether you enjoy it black, with condensed milk, or with the addition of eggs, Vietnamese coffee is sure to provide a delightful coffee experience. So why not give it a try and explore the wonders of Vietnamese coffee brewing?

Health Benefits Of Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee is a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and each region has its own unique coffee culture. Vietnam, in particular, has a strong coffee culture and is famous for its traditional Vietnamese coffee. Vietnamese coffee is known for its rich, bold flavor and the unique way it is prepared and enjoyed.

Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world, after Brazil, and the coffee industry plays a significant role in the country’s economy. Vietnamese coffee is typically made using robusta beans, which are known for their strong flavor and higher caffeine content compared to arabica beans. The beans are often dark roasted, resulting in a deep and intense flavor profile.

Coffee, in general, has been associated with various health benefits when consumed in moderation. Vietnamese coffee, with its unique brewing method, also offers its own set of health benefits.

  1. Antioxidant Rich: Coffee is a significant source of antioxidants, which can help protect the body against free radicals that contribute to aging and disease. Vietnamese coffee, made from robusta beans, contains even higher levels of antioxidants than arabica coffee due to the robusta bean’s higher polyphenol content.

  2. Boosts Physical Performance: The caffeine in Vietnamese coffee acts as a natural stimulant, helping to improve physical performance and increase endurance. It can provide an energy boost and enhance focus, making it an excellent choice for those looking to kickstart their day or fuel a workout.

  3. May Lower the Risk of Certain Diseases: Studies have shown that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and certain types of cancer. The antioxidants and other bioactive compounds present in Vietnamese coffee may offer protective effects against these conditions.

  4. Mental Health Benefits: The caffeine in coffee can also have positive effects on mental health. It can improve mood, increase alertness, and enhance cognitive function. Additionally, the ritual of making and enjoying Vietnamese coffee can provide a sense of relaxation and mindfulness, promoting overall mental well-being.

While Vietnamese coffee, like any caffeinated beverage, should be consumed in moderation, it can be a part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Modern Twists On Traditional Vietnamese Coffee

While traditional Vietnamese coffee is undoubtedly delicious on its own, there are also modern twists on this classic beverage that add a new dimension of flavor and creativity. Here are some innovative ideas to elevate your Vietnamese coffee experience:

  1. Coconut Vietnamese Coffee: Add a tropical twist to your Vietnamese coffee by incorporating coconut milk or coconut cream. Prepare the coffee using the traditional Vietnamese drip filter, and instead of using condensed milk, replace it with coconut milk or coconut cream. This unique combination of flavors will transport you to a sunny beach in Vietnam.

  2. Vietnamese Iced Coffee Smoothie: Beat the heat with a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee smoothie. Brew a strong cup of Vietnamese coffee, sweeten it with condensed milk or your preferred sweetener, and allow it to cool. Blend the cooled coffee with ice cubes and a splash of milk until smooth and frothy. This indulgent and smooth beverage is perfect for those hot summer days.

  3. Salted Vietnamese Coffee: For those who enjoy the contrast of sweet and savory flavors, try adding a pinch of salt to your Vietnamese coffee. The salt enhances the complexity of the coffee’s flavor and balances the sweetness from the condensed milk. It is an unexpected twist that will leave your taste buds pleasantly surprised.

  4. Vietnamese Coffee Affogato: Elevate your dessert game by combining Vietnamese coffee with a classic Italian treat. Brew a strong cup of Vietnamese coffee and pour it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato. The hot coffee melts the creamy dessert, creating a delightful blend of flavors and temperatures.

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These modern twists on traditional Vietnamese coffee offer new and exciting ways to enjoy this beloved beverage. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create your own signature Vietnamese coffee creation.

Proper Serving And Enjoying Vietnamese Coffee

Serving and enjoying Vietnamese coffee is as much about the experience as it is about the taste. Here are some tips to ensure you savor every sip of your homemade Vietnamese coffee:

  1. Use a Vietnamese Coffee Filter: To make authentic Vietnamese coffee, you will need a traditional Vietnamese coffee filter, also known as a phin. The phin consists of a small cup, a perforated base, and a separate press. It allows for a slow drip process, resulting in a strong and concentrated brew.

  2. Grind the Coffee Beans: For the best flavor, grind the coffee beans just before brewing. Vietnamese coffee is typically made with a medium to coarse grind to prevent the coffee from becoming too bitter or over-extracted.

  3. Preheat the Filter: Before adding the coffee grounds to the phin, preheat it by rinsing it with hot water. This step helps to minimize heat loss during the brewing process and ensures a consistent temperature for the coffee extraction.

  4. Add the Coffee and Water: Place the desired amount of coffee grounds in the phin, typically one to two tablespoons per cup. Gently tap the coffee grounds to create an even surface. Place the perforated base on top of the coffee grounds, and screw on the press until it is snug. Pour a small amount of hot water (around 30ml) into the phin to wet the coffee grounds, allowing them to bloom.

  5. Slow Drip Brewing: After the initial bloom, pour the remaining hot water into the phin, filling it to the brim. Place the lid on top and let the coffee slowly drip through the filter. This process can take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes but can vary depending on your desired strength. Adjust the brewing time by adjusting the tightness of the press.

  6. Stir and Enjoy: Once the coffee has finished brewing, give it a gentle stir to ensure that the condensed milk, if added, is fully incorporated. Vietnamese coffee is commonly enjoyed with condensed milk, which adds creaminess and sweetness to the bold coffee flavor.

  7. Pour and Serve: Vietnamese coffee is traditionally served in a small glass or cup called a "cà phê sữa đá" glass. Pour the brewed coffee over ice, if desired, and serve it alongside extra condensed milk for those who prefer a sweeter taste. Take your time to appreciate both the aroma and taste of this delightful beverage.

Summary And Conclusion: Why Vietnamese Coffee Is Worth Trying

Vietnamese coffee offers a unique and flavorful experience that is worth trying for any coffee lover. Its robust flavor profile, rich cultural heritage, and various health benefits make it a standout in the coffee world.

Preparing Vietnamese coffee at home allows you to experience the art and tradition of coffee-making while also providing an opportunity to add your own creative twists. From coconut Vietnamese coffee to salted Vietnamese coffee, there is something to satisfy every palate and preference.

Remember to savor the experience of making and enjoying Vietnamese coffee. Allow yourself to be fully present and appreciate the rich aroma, bold taste, and the unique cultural significance behind this beloved beverage.

So, whether you are a seasoned coffee connoisseur or an adventurous beginner, brewing a cup of authentic Vietnamese coffee will undoubtedly take your coffee journey to new heights. Give it a try and indulge in the flavors and traditions that Vietnam has to offer. Cheers!

FAQS On How To Make Vietnam Coffee

What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Unique Compared To Other Types Of Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is known for its strong, bold flavor and is usually made using a phin filter, which is similar to a drip coffee maker.

What Type Of Coffee Beans Are Commonly Used In Vietnamese Coffee?

The most commonly used coffee beans in Vietnamese coffee are robusta beans. These beans have a higher caffeine content and a strong, bitter flavor that is preferred in traditional Vietnamese coffee.

What Is The Process For Making Vietnamese Coffee?

The process for making Vietnamese coffee involves brewing the coffee using a phin filter, which is a small metal filter placed over a cup or mug. The filter is filled with coarse ground coffee and hot water is poured over it, allowing the coffee to slowly drip into the cup.

What Is The Traditional Way Of Serving Vietnamese Coffee?

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is often served in a small cup or glass with a generous amount of condensed milk at the bottom. As the coffee slowly drips into the cup, it mixes with the sweetened condensed milk and creates a rich and creamy drink.

Can I Make Vietnamese Coffee Without A Phin Filter?

While the phin filter is the traditional method of making Vietnamese coffee, it is possible to make it without one. You can use a French press or a regular coffee maker, but keep in mind that the flavor and texture may not be the same as using a phin filter.