May 09, 2018 3 min read

Vietnamese Coffee Culture

Vietnamese Coffee Culture: A Slow-Paced Way to Enjoy a Strong Brew

Vietnamese coffee culture is a rich tapestry woven with tradition and flavor. As the world's second-largest coffee producer, Vietnam has cultivated a unique coffee culture since the French introduced coffee in 1857. The quintessential experience of Vietnamese coffee revolves around the phin filter, a small metal filter that creates a strong, concentrated brew by allowing coffee to drip slowly into a cup. This method not only enhances the coffee's flavor but also embodies the country's slow-paced approach to enjoying coffee.

The Phin Filter: Heart of Vietnamese Coffee

The phin filter is central to the traditional Vietnamese coffee experience. This small, metal filter sits atop a cup, where coffee grounds are placed. Hot water is then poured over the grounds, and the coffee slowly drips through the filter, producing a robust and aromatic brew. The process of using a phin filter encourages patience, allowing one to savor each moment as the coffee drips slowly, enhancing the anticipation and enjoyment.

Sweetened Condensed Milk: The Perfect Companion

In Vietnam, coffee is typically served with sweetened condensed milk, creating a perfect balance to the coffee's bitterness. This combination results in a rich, creamy flavor that has become synonymous with Vietnamese coffee. Whether you prefer your coffee hot or iced (known as ca phe sua da), the addition of sweetened condensed milk is a staple that defines the Vietnamese coffee experience.

A Slow-Paced Coffee Culture

Unlike the fast-paced coffee cultures of many other countries, where coffee is often consumed on the go, Vietnamese coffee culture is an invitation to slow down. The phin filter’s slow drip process compels you to pause, relax, and enjoy the moment. This leisurely approach is a reminder to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to sit back, and to engage in meaningful conversations over a cup of coffee.

Embrace the Vietnamese Coffee Experience

The Vietnamese coffee culture is more than just a way of making coffee; it’s a way of life. It's about enjoying the process, the flavor, and the company. Whether at a traditional coffee house, a street-side stall, or a modern café, the ritual of preparing and savoring Vietnamese coffee is an experience to be cherished.

Tips for Enjoying Vietnamese Coffee

- Order it "bac xiu" if you prefer less condensed milk.

- Try it iced (ca phe sua da) on a hot day.

- Look for cafes that use fresh, locally roasted coffee beans.

- Take your time and savor the experience.

Historical Context and Production

Following the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese government launched a massive coffee production program. By the 1990s, coffee production soared, and today Vietnam produces over 1.73 million tons of coffee annually. Coffee in Vietnam is often brewed using rudimentary aluminum drip filters at ubiquitous street coffee stalls. The classic phin filter, consisting of a small cup, filter chamber, and lid, is a testament to the art of coffee making in Vietnam.

Unique Variations

Beyond sweetened condensed milk, Vietnamese cafes offer unique coffee variations with eggs and yogurt. Egg coffee features whipped egg whites stirred into coffee, while yogurt coffee includes dollops of yogurt mixed with either hot or cold coffee. These inventive additions provide an undeniably unique coffee experience that highlights the versatility and creativity of Vietnamese coffee culture.

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee


- 3 tablespoons ground coffee

- 6 ounces almost boiling water

- Sweetened condensed milk (1 tablespoon for regular coffee, 2 tablespoons for sweet coffee, 3 tablespoons for a caramel-like coffee)


  1. Use a 6 oz phin filter, coffee press, or drip coffee method.
  2. Distribute 3 tablespoons of ground coffee evenly into the filter.
  3. Avoid shaking the phin filter to prevent grounds from plugging the holes.
  4. Pour the desired amount of condensed milk into a mug or heat-proof glass.
  5. Measure 6 ounces of near-boiling water.
  6. Pour 2 tablespoons of hot water into the filter and wait 5 seconds to "bloom" the coffee.
  7. Gently press the filter to compress the bloomed coffee.
  8. Slowly pour the remaining water into the filter.
  9. Wait about 5 minutes for the coffee to finish dripping.
  10. Remove the filter and stir to mix in the condensed milk.

Enjoy the rich flavors and slow-paced ritual of Vietnamese coffee and take a moment to savor every drop.

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