Vietnamese Coffee Culture

Vietnamese Slow Drip Coffee Using a Phin

Coffee is a huge part of daily Vietnamese life. Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer in the world. The French brought coffee to Vietnam in the 19th century, and after the Vietnam War, the government instituted a massive coffee production program.  By the 1990s in Vietnam coffee production started to take off and today Vietnam produces over 1.73 million tons of coffee a year.

Vietnam is the world's second-largest exporter of coffee, but in Vietnam coffee beans are almost always Robusta, which is primarily grown in Vietnam.  Robusta is almost twice as strong caffeine wise, with a thick lingering taste and higher acidity.  The strong taste, a thicker brew, and a few over-roasted beans makes for a different, distinctive taste.  

The Vietnam coffee maker is almost always dripping coffee.  The ubiquitous Vietnamese street coffee stalls utilize rudimentary aluminum drip filters.  Coffee is traditionally brewed in individual portions using a phin, which consists of a small cup, a filter chamber and a lid that also functions as a container to catch dripping cups of exquisitely aromatic black coffee.

The Vietnamese like their coffee nice and slow, and setting up the filter and choosing the right time to drink is an art in itself.  When the coffee is good, you’ll want to make it last.

Preparing the coffee this unhurried way forces you to slow down and savor the experience.  Watching the coffee, drip by drip, not only stokes your desire but also forces you to sit for a few minutes, while the coffee brews.  While all Vietnamese coffee is not prepared this way, the classic slow drip method is a real treat and a reminder to chill and enjoy conversations.  This is especially welcome advice in the all-encompassing hustle and bustle of life in the heavily populated Vietnamese cities.

In Vietnam, whether served as hot coffee or iced coffee, it is served with sweetened condensed milk.  Vietnamese coffee is also famous for its incredibly sugary, sweetened condensed milk. which provides the perfect counterbalance to the incredibly strong, dark-roasted Vietnamese coffee.


Vietnamese people drink coffee morning, noon and night, at proper cafes or on little plastic stools on the street.  Cafes whether they be they sit-down outdoor coffee shops, indoor coffee shops or more casual street-side coffee stalls are just a few of the gathering places for people of all ages.

In addition to sweetened condensed milk, the Vietnamese coffee shops will also add eggs and yogurt to their coffee, for an undeniably unique coffee experience.  Start with an egg white coffee, which is simply whipped egg whites stirred into your coffee.  Once you have adjusted to eggs in your coffee, try yogurt. Dollops of yogurt in hot or cold coffee is another Vietnamese specialty drink.  While sweetened condensed milk may still be the favorite aspect of Vietnamese coffee, there are so many ways to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese Coffee!



  • 3 tablespoons Vietnamese ground coffee (or a good French Roast Organic Coffee)
  • 6-8 ounces water that is close to the boiling point, depending on your desired coffee strength
  • 1-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk for a regular coffee
    • 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk for a sweet coffee
    • 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk; your coffee will taste closer to a caramel coffee hard candy, and sometimes there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!


    1. 6 oz Phin Vietnamese coffee filters, but they come in different sizes depending upon your brewing needs. Alternatively, you can use a French coffee press or your favorite drip coffee method.
    2. Measure 3 tablespoons of ground coffee, and distribute it evenly into the filter.
    3. DO NOT shake the filters or compress the coffee, or the coffee grounds will drop into the holes of the coffee filter and plug up the holes! The result will be that the coffee takes forever to drip, or the grounds may clog the filter entirely. Place the metal filter gently on top of the coffee.
    4. Pour your desired amount of condensed milk into a mug or heatproof glass.
    5. Measure out 6 ounces of near-boiling water. Use 8 ounces if you don’t like your coffee with such a strong kick in the pants.
    6. With the filter placed over the glass, pour two tablespoons of hot water into the filter and wait for 5 seconds to "bloom" the coffee. The bloom is part of the coffee brewing process when the water releases CO2 from the coffee, and the grounds expand.
    7. Next, press on the filter gently to compress the bloomed coffee. This helps slow down the drip rate when you use all of your water, and also makes for a more flavorful coffee.
    8. With these steps, you’ll be able to achieve the optimum brewing time. That said, now slowly pour the rest of the water into the filter, and the coffee will begin dripping into your cup or glass.
    9. Wait about 5 minutes for the coffee to finish drip brewing!
    10. Remove the filter, and stir to mix in the condensed milk.