How to Make Vietnamese Coffee for a Sweet Caffeine Boost

Learn about the traditional brewing method for Vietnamese coffee and treat yourself to a hot or iced cup any time you want.

There are two things I always love to do any time I travel: experience new restaurants and search for the best coffee in town. Whenever I find the two in one spot it's a dream. I can gladly say this usually happens at Vietnamese restaurants, where my order starts with a couple summer rolls and a sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. If you're new to Vietnamese coffee (or your local shop added it to the menu and don't know what it is), you're in the right place. Learn all about the beans from the world's second largest coffee producer and then give the unique brewing method a try at home.

What Is Vietnamese Coffee?

Coffee first entered the scene in Vietnam in the 19th century with the French colonization. What sets Vietnamese coffee apart from the rest of the world is that 90% of the coffee beans are of the robusta variety. Unlike the more common arabica beans (which is probably what's in your pantry right now), robusta is a strong, nutty, dark bean. Robusta also has a much higher caffeine count than arabica.

heat proof mug with condensed milk and Vietnamese drip coffee and filter
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How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

To brew Vietnamese coffee the traditional way, you'll want to use a phin filter ($10, Amazon), a slow drip-style tool that consists of a small stainless brewing chamber, a perforated insert, and a cap. Place the filter over a mug or glass that will hold the amount of coffee you're brewing.

Buy It: The Original Phin Kit, Filter + Coffee ($30, Nguyen Coffee Supply)

Step 1: Add Vietnamese Coffee to Phin

The amount of coffee you need will depend on the size of your filter, but the recommended ratio to follow by Nguyen Coffee Supply is 2 tablespoons of finely ground Vietnamese coffee ($16, Nguyen Coffee Supply) to 4 ounces of water. Once the coffee is in the chamber, drop the press in to cover the grounds.

Step 2: Add Hot Water

Pour about 0.8 ounces of hot water just off the boil (about 205°F) to bloom the coffee for 30-40 seconds. (Blooming lets carbon dioxide escape for a better-tasting result.) From there, add 3.2 ounces of water or enough to fill the chamber.

Step 3: Watch the Coffee Drip

After about two minutes, you should start to see a slow drip coming from the phin into the glass or cup. And when I say slow, I mean slow. The process takes about 5 to 6 minutes total.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Vietnamese Coffee

Once it's brewed, it's time to drink! The most common way to serve Vietnamese coffee is with sweetened condensed milk ($12, Amazon). The sweet creamy flavor cuts through the strong notes from the coffee. You can add a couple of tablespoons of condensed milk to the bottom of the cup before brewing and stir to combine. Of course, you can also drink black or sweeten to taste.

How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee

This is my favorite way to cool off on summer days. To make Vietnamese iced coffee simply follow the steps above, but brew over a glass ice or serve over ice once the process is finished. Not into sweetened condensed milk or dairy-free? Try making a vegan version with coconut milk and simple syrup.

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