How To Make Vietnamese Coffee ("Ca Phe Phin")

Learning how to make Vietnamese coffee is really easy. It simply needs you to have the right filter and some condensed milk, and then you can follow a series of simple steps to make it in no time.


Born and raised in Vietnam, I grew up to the rich and intense smell of robusta beans every day. While biking to school, I would occasionally glanced into some coffee shops and saw friends and families together, patiently waiting by their dripped coffee, telling their stories, their dreams, their ambitions.

Now cafes here have gotten to a whole new level - more sophisticated, more beautiful, and more creative. This article will show you how to brew Vietnamese coffee (Ca Phe Phin) and Vietnamese Milk Coffee ("Ca Phe Sua Da" or "Nau Da").

What Is Vietnamese Coffee?

Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam by the French in 1857 because the environment proved to be the perfect place to grow Robusta coffee. Soon the country was a major exporter of the product, and they also developed their own way of making the drink.

Vietnamese coffee or Ca Phe Phin is a tradittional and popular coffee drink in Vietnam made using a cup-shaped metal filter (phin) which fits over a glass. Hot water slowly runs through a small amount of coffee and brews straight to the cup, producing an intense and aromatic result.

There are 2 popular versions of Vietnamese filter coffee: black coffee and milk coffee.

Secrets To Making The Best Vietnamese Coffee

Not only Espresso, Vietnamese filter coffee also has special standards and know-how. Now let's discover how to make a delicious cup.

How to pick the best beans

You will want to go with dark roasted coffee with clear origin to achieve the closest taste to Vietnamese coffee.

Tradditionally, all beans used in Ca Phe Phin sold in cafes in Vietnam have already been mixed with either butter, salt, corn or soya beans... or a mixture of those.

Some coffee shops might also mix 30% robusta with 70% arabica, depending on the preferred taste of their customers. Don't be afraid to mix your beans together to achieve the best flavor.

How to choose the right filter (phin)

First you will need to get yourself an aluminum or stainless steel filter, something that is easy to find for a reasonable price online or from a Vietnamese store.

phin

Put coffee into the filter and press it down

Aluminum filters have smaller holes and keep warm much better than stainless steel ones and therefore will produce tastier flavor, so if you can get your hands on an aluminum phin, that would be best.

The filter separates into 3 parts, with the coffee going in the center, and then it brews straight into your mug or glass.

Tips: Rinse the filter with hot water before use. Not only does it ensure that the filter is clean, but it also warms the filter, helping the coffee to bloom more evenly and reduce the absorption of heat.

Tips: Rinse the filter with hot water before use. Not only does it ensure that the filter is clean, but it also warms the filter, helping the coffee to bloom more evenly and reduce the absorption of heat.

Tips: Rinse the filter with hot water before use. Not only does it ensure that the filter is clean, but it also warms the filter, helping the coffee to bloom more evenly and reduce the absorption of heat.

Condense milk

Condense milk is often used to sweeten Vietnamese coffee. Famous brands used in most cafes are "Ong Tho" and "Phuong Nam".

This stemmed from the lack of fresh milk back in the day because dairy farming wasn’t very common in the region, so alternatives were used- in particular sweetened condensed milk that was blended with a dark roast coffee to produce a drink they call “ca phe nau” (meaning brown coffee) or “ca phe sua” (meaning milk coffee). Further variations that are commonly seen include yoghurt, eggs, fruit, and sometimes even rice.


How To Make Vietnamese Coffee With Phin

Now you've got the right equipment and ingredients. Let's start making Vietnamese coffee.

How To Make Vietnamese Coffee With Phin

author: espressoaqua
equipments: espresso machine, glass or mug, spoon

Time: 10 minutes
Calories: 10
Servings: 1

22-25gr Ground Vietnamese coffee beans of your choice

Hot water (90ºC)

Ice (optional)

30ml Condense Milk (optional)


Step 1: Compress

  • Put 22 to 25 gram of the ground coffee into the filter. You can use 30 gram or more but it will turn out very strong and bitter.
  • Put the filter press on top of the coffee and press it down as hard as you can to compress.

Step 2: Bloom The Bottom (10-15 second)

  • Put the filter lid face up on the counter and add 10 to 15ml of boiled water (90ºC) to the lid.
  • Put the filter on top of the lid for 10 seconds to bloom the bottom part of coffee.

Step 3: Bloom The Top (10-15 seconds)

  • If you like it sweet, add 30ml of condense milk to your glass or mug.
  • Place the filter over the top of your cup.
  • Add 10 to 15ml of hot water (90ºC) to the top of the filter and let bloom for about 10 seconds.

Step 4: Brew (5-7 minutes)

  • Slowly pour hot water (90ºC) all the way to the top of the filter while taking the filter press out of the filter.
  • Now you can leave it as is and wait for about 5-7 minutes for the coffee to brew properly.
  • You've successfully made hot Vietnamese coffee, also known as "Den Nong".

Step 5: Ice It

  • If you are making iced coffee, put ice cubes to a separate Highball glass, pour the coffee you've just made on top and stir it all together. This is called "Den Da".

How To Make Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee ("Ca Phe Sua Da" or "Nau Da")

"Ca phe sua da" ("Nau Da") is probably the most popular Vietnamese coffee drink, not only to Vietnamese people, but international tourists as well.

ca phe sua da sai gon

On a visit to Saigon, it was said that the Prime Minister of Canada was definitely keen to try Vietnamese brown coffee. Another time, when in Hanoi, former US President Obama did not forget to mention Vietnam’s iced milk coffee.

Voted by Bloomberg as one of the ten most unique coffee beverages in the world and by CNN Traveler magazine as a must-try, hopefully this recipe will make it to your favorite list.

How To Make Vietnamese Milk Coffee

author: Hong Le
equipments: filter (phin), glass or mug, spoon

Time: 10 minutes
Calories: 120
Servings: 1

50ml Coffee (made from the recipe above)

30ml sweetened condense milk

Ice


  • Put condense milk and coffee in a Highball glass
  • Mix well
  • Top up with ice and enjoy

How To Make Saigon Black Coffee ("Ca Phe Den Sai Gon")

More popular amongst men, this is a must-have morning drink for many.

How To Make Saigon Black Coffee ("Ca Phe Den Sai Gon")

author: espressoaqua
equipments: filter, glass or mug, spoon

Time: 10 minutes
Calories: 60
Servings: 1

50ml Coffee (made from the recipe above)

50ml Coffee (made from the recipe above)

50ml Coffee (made from the recipe above)

10gr sugar

Ice


  • Put sugar and 50ml of coffee to a Highball glass
  • User an electric milk frother to mix until frothy
  • Top up with ice and enjoy

Final Thoughts

This strong and dark drink can be used to make many other delicious drinks. Check back often because I will show you how to make egg coffee, avocado coffee, and coconut coffee soon, and all you need to get started is knowing how to make Vietnamese coffee using the filter.

Once made, the coffee can be kept in the fridge in a tight container for a day or two. I normally make a batch and drink it through out the day as I please.

And now you've made it! How did you like it? Let me know in the comment section below!

About this author:

Hi. My name is Hong Le. I am a web developer, coffee lover, and a barista. I am not a coffee expert, but one doesn't need to be a professional to enjoy the beautiful experiences that coffee brings. In fact, I believe the beginner's mind is so curious and open that it helps you appreciate things in many ways that an expert might have forgotten.

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