Unlike other coffee style from the US’ Starbucks, or Milan’s coffee, or boil it altogether like how the Turkish do, Vietnamese coffee is enjoyed the French way with a simple filter. Coffee addicts in Vietnam enjoy waiting for each drop to fill up their cup. During winter in Hanoi, to keep everything warm, the coffee cup is placed inside a larger bowl of hot water.

Unlike espresso, most black coffee in Vietnam is usually taken with a bit of white sugar instead of brown sugar. However contemporary coffee shops would prepare different types of sugar if that’s what you like.

Milk if to be added must be condense milk. This was because in the past, fresh milk was rare, turned out it is a remarkable innovation, as with Vietnamese coffee, the condense milk just miraculously works its way to compliment all the rich tastes of the coffee, enhance the texture, and finally creates a new cup that is very different from any other coffee from the Western world, from taste to aroma.

Before getting into a basic Vietnamese brew, you might want to pick the right coffee for you. In Vietnam, usually any coffee is a blend of at least Robusta and Arabica. Most guys would enjoy a higher amount of Robusta in the blend due to its strong taste, texture and caffeine potency. And for females, Arabica creates a fine aroma that nobody can resist. Below is the traditional Vietnamese way of brewing a cup of hot black coffee (a double espresso size). Steps are not too difficult, but there is always rooms for improvement.

1. Preparation: a working Phin filter (with a chamber, a screen, and a cap), a see through cup that fits the Phin filter, 2 table spoons of Vietnamese ground coffee (or more if you want it stronger), a table spoon of white sugar (optional), and a spoon. You prepare all of these while boiling the water.

2. Remove the screen out of the Phin filter and add 2 table spoons of ground coffee into the Phin filter’s chamber. Shake it lightly for the coffee to settle evenly.

3. Place the screen on top of the added coffee, inside the Phin filter then push it down nicely.

4. Add a little bit of hot boiling water into the Phin filter (10 ml) just to cover the coffee, to wet and heat the coffee so it swells. The purpose of this step is to make sure the dripping would go nicely and the ground coffee will not go down to the cup.

5. Do nothing, wait for 30 seconds then continue to step 6. See pictures below and next steps under it.

How to brew Vietnamese coffee

6. Add in the rest of the hot water and cover the Phin filter with a cap.

7. Let the coffee drip nicely and the good speed would be 40 – 60 drops per minute. A see through glass helps you see how this works and it a fun process. There is no rush because within just 3-4 minutes, your coffee would be ready.

8. Add in 1 tea spoon of sugar, stir it and enjoy a nice black cup of coffee the Vietnamese way.

Important Tips:

– To optimize the taste of your coffee, it is recommended to use very fresh water/mineral water and boil it very well.
– If you want to enjoy with ice, you can double the amount of ground coffee when you add into the Phin filter so that it will balance nicely.
– If you want to enjoy with milk, in the empty cup you can add 1 table spoon of condensed milk. There is no need for additional sweetener of any kind. Once done, just stir it well and enjoy the sweetness.
– Remember that the harder you push the screen down (step 3), the slower the coffee will drop. In critical cases, when filtering is stuck if there is too much coffee and the screen is pushed down too hard, an adjustment may work but you need to do it carefully and slowly. However, best of all, try to do it right from the beginning.