What Is Vietnamese Coffee and How To Make It? 

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Coffee is beloved all over the world. It’s part of the daily routine for billions of people. Different regions of the world have all put their unique spin on coffee.

Vietnamese coffee is one of the most popular and well-known regional variations of coffee. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this delicious coffee beverage, look no further. We’ve done the research and shared our Vietnamese coffee recipe. By the end of this article, you will be ready to brew it yourself without going to a Vietnamese coffee shop.

What Is Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is traditionally made with a Vietnamese coffee filter, which allows for a slow drip brewing process. This results in a coffee that is very concentrated and bold. To combat this bold flavor, many locals add sweetened condensed milk to their cups of coffee. It can be had both ways, depending on how sweet or bitter you want it to be.

vietnamese-coffee-dripper

What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Different?

Vietnamese coffee is bold, smooth, low in acid, and strong. Vietnam is an important coffee-growing region in the coffee industry. Additionally, over 90% of coffee production in Vietnam is from robusta coffee beans. Robusta beans have a unique profile and two times more caffeine and antioxidants than arabica beans. Robusta beans also have fewer fats and sugars.

The growing conditions in Vietnam also impact the quality of their coffee. The majority of coffee in Vietnam is grown in the Central Highlands. This area has a warm tropical climate with distinct dry and rainy seasons. These unique growing conditions are some of what gives Vietnamese coffee its unique flavor profile.

The unique profile of Vietnamese robusta beans also mixes with creamer in an ideal way. This wide variety of unique factors is what makes Vietnamese coffee different.

Ingredients – What Is In a Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is a combination of three simple ingredients. You typically use Vietnamese Robusta beans, water, and sweetened condensed milk. However, many people also drink Vietnamese coffee without sweetened condensed milk.

If you want to be as authentic as possible, go to an Asian grocery and find Longevity Brand Sweetened Condense milk. This is a famous brand of condensed milk in Vietnam.

Beyond the condensed milk, you must brew the coffee strongly. That means a minimal amount of water with the coffee. If the coffee is not strong, it will be overpowered by the sweetness of the condensed milk.

Although the ingredients may seem simple, Vietnamese coffee is more about the brewing process than the ingredients.

vietnamese-coffee-things-you-need

Can I Use Any Coffee for Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee beans are recommended for an authentic flavor. Popular brands include:

  • Café du monde coffee
  • Trung Nguyen brand
  • Nguyen Coffee Supply
  • Chestbrew Moonbear

Usually, you can find them in Asian supermarkets or on Amazon. If they are not unavailable, you can use dark roast coffee, like espresso roast or French roast coffee beans.

Why Does Vietnamese Coffee Use Condensed Milk?

Vietnamese coffee uses condensed milk because it’s a popular tradition and because the beans have a robust and bold flavor. The sweetness of the condensed milk balances out the bold and bitter flavor. 

Without the condensed milk, the bitter taste of the strong robusta coffee would dominate the drink. It may be tempting to use heavy cream instead of sweetened condensed milk. However, it will impact the consistency and the flavor. 

The thickness and sweetness of condensed milk are essential parts of authentic Vietnamese coffee. Furthermore, when coffee became popular, fresh milk and creme were not traditionally available in Vietnam.

If you want to stay true to its origins and coffee culture, you should definitely use sweetened condensed milk. Actually, coffee and condensed milk are a great match. You can make flavorful coffee with it in other recipes.

Coffee Brewer – What Is a Phin Coffee Maker?

A traditional Vietnamese coffee filter, or phin, is a small personal coffee brewer. Phins have:

  • A lid
  • A brewing chamber
  • A small drip filter
  • A plate with holes
phin-coffee-filter

Vietnamese coffee filters come in various sizes. Generally, 4 oz capacity is good for single-serve, 8 oz for double, and up to 40 oz for larger batch brewing.

The Vietnamese coffee filter is a simple but effective coffee brewing method. The small drip filter allows for a slow and controlled brew and results in a strong and flavorful cup of coffee.

In addition to being an excellent brewing method, Phins are portable. You can take your Phin filter with you when you travel. They are also relatively inexpensive. You can find Vietnamese coffee filters online or in an Asian market.

Vietnamese coffee filters were introduced to Vietnam by the French in the 19th century and became popular throughout Vietnam because they were cheap and easy to make coffee.

The metal filter is the most common because it’s durable and easy to find.

How To Make Vietnamese Coffee – Vietnamese Coffee Recipe

Now that you know the ins and outs of the ingredients and brewer, you should be ready to brew Vietnamese coffee. It is a slow and methodical process using a phin.

Just pay attention to the brew ratio.

To make a single cup of coffee (4 oz of coffee), you will need two to three tablespoons (around 14 grams) of ground coffee. You’ll completely fill the phin with hot water. If you like strong coffee, then use less water.

One to three tablespoons of sweet condensed milk, depending on your preference. If you like sweet coffee, add more.

As a rule of thumb, the 1:2 ratio is good. For example, roughly two tablespoons of coffee for a 4 oz phin and four tablespoons for an 8 oz. Here is a conversion to grams for your reference.

  • 14 grams for 4 oz (2-3 tbsps)
  • 28 grams for 8 oz (4-6 tbsps)
  • 42 tbsps for 12 oz (6-8 tbsps)
  • 84 tbsp for 24 oz (12-24 tbsps)

Step by Step Brewing Guide

Below we outline the basic steps to help you along the brewing process. We are using the original 4 oz single serve phin in this guide.

Step One

The first step is to add your sweetened condensed milk to your heatproof glass or cup. Your condensed milk should be ready to go before you boil your coffee. 

You will be brewing the coffee directly over the mug, so you won’t be able to add the sweetened condensed milk once you have started brewing the coffee beans.

vietnamese-coffee-add-sweetened-condensed-milk

Step Two

Once the sweetened condensed milk is ready, place the phin on top of your mug or glass and remove the filter from the phin.

prepare-vietnamese-coffee

Step Three

Add two to three tablespoons of coffee grounds to the phin. It’s important to shake the phin to level the coffee grounds.

Next, gently press the filter down the ground coffee. Don’t push down too hard; otherwise, it may clog the filter. This will make it more difficult for the water to pass through the ground coffee and clog the filter.

Step Four

Fill just enough hot water to wet the coffee and then wait. This process is called blooming. During this period, the ground coffee expands and releases CO2.

vietnamese-coffee-bloom-coffee

Step Five

Slowly pour the remainder of your hot water over the coffee grounds and let the coffee drip into the cup. You should wait around five minutes for the coffee to stop dripping.

vietnamese-coffee-pour-water

Step Six

After the coffee has stopped dripping, remove the phin and incorporate the sweetened condensed milk.

vietnamese-coffee-let-it-drip

Variations:

There are several variations to traditional Vietnamese coffee. Minor changes make other coffee drinks. If you are a fan of Vietnamese coffee, I recommend giving these variations a try.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee 

Wondering how to make Vietnamese iced coffee? It’s very simple. You can make Vietnamese iced coffee by brewing Vietnamese coffee over ice. The result is a strong and flavorful cup of coffee perfect for hot summer days.

To make Vietnamese iced coffee, start by brewing Vietnamese coffee as usual. Once the coffee has finished brewing, add ice cubes to a glass and pour the Vietnamese hot coffee over the ice. Vietnamese iced coffee is best served with sweetened condensed milk.

Vietnamese Egg Coffee

You can make Vietnamese egg coffee by adding an egg yolk to Vietnamese coffee. The egg makes the coffee richer and creamier.

tools-to-make-vietnamese-egg-coffee

To make Vietnamese egg coffee, start by brewing Vietnamese coffee as usual. While the coffee brews, whisk an egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk. Once the coffee has finished brewing, add the egg mixture to the coffee and stir. Vietnamese egg coffee is best served with sweetened condensed milk instead of cream. Check out our detailed Vietnamese Egg Coffee Recipe here.

Is Vietnamese Coffee Stronger Than Regular coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is generally stronger than regular coffee because you use a finer grind to prepare it. Vietnamese coffee is also traditionally brewed with less water, and it takes some time to prepare, resulting in a more concentrated cup of coffee. 

Additionally, Vietnamese coffee is most commonly robusta beans. Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as arabica beans. Combining brewing methods and beans means that Vietnamese coffee is much stronger than regular coffee.

Instead of creamer or milk, sweetened condensed milk is added since it compliments the very strong taste of the coffee.

Final Thoughts

You’re now a Vietnamese coffee professional! With the above guide, you’re ready to go out and enjoy the delights of Vietnamese coffee from the comfort of your own home. We highly recommend purchasing authentic Vietnamese coffee beans and using a Vietnamese phin when brewing this coffee.

There will be no going back, and you’ll love Vietnamese coffee. Enjoy!