May 09, 2018 4 min read

Vietnamese Coffee Culture 

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

Coffee is a huge part of daily life in Vietnam, the world's second-largest coffee producer. The French brought coffee to Vietnam in 1857, and the Vietnamese have since developed their own unique coffee culture.

The Phin Filter in Vietnamese Coffee

The traditional way to brew Vietnamese coffee is to use a phin filter. The phin is a small metal filter that sits on top of a cup. Coffee grounds are placed in the phin, and hot water is poured over them. The coffee slowly drips through the filter into the cup, creating a strong, concentrated brew.

Vietnamese Coffee and Sweetened Condensed Milk

Vietnamese coffee is always served with sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk helps to balance out the bitterness of the coffee and creates a rich, creamy flavor.

A Slow-paced Way to Enjoy Coffee

The Vietnamese way of brewing and drinking coffee is a slow-paced affair. The phin filter forces you to wait for the coffee to drip through, which gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the moment. This is in contrast to the fast-paced coffee culture of many other countries, where coffee is often consumed on the go.

A Reminder to Chill and Enjoy Conversations

The Vietnamese coffee culture is a reminder to slow down and enjoy life. It's a chance to sit back, relax, and chat with friends or family. It's also a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee. 

Here are some additional 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.
  • And most importantly, take your time and savor the experience.

Right after the Vietnam War, the government instituted a massive coffee production program.  By the 1990s coffee production started to take off and today Vietnam produces over1.73 million tons of coffee a year.

The coffee maker is almost always drip coffee.  The ubiquitous Vietnamese street coffee stalls utilize rudimentary aluminum drip filters.  Coffee is traditionally brewed in individual portions using a phin filter, 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 still 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 tochill and enjoy conversations.  This is especially welcome advice in the all-encompassing hustle and bustle of life in the heavily populated 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 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 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 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 coffee and Vietnamese Iced Coffee is a real treat!


Vietnamese Coffee Recipes


3 tablespoons ground coffee 
6 ounces water that is close to the boiling point, depending on your desired coffee strength
See Below for tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon for regular coffee
2 tablespoons for sweet coffee
3 tablespoons for coffee close to a caramel coffee 


    1. 6 oz Phin filter, or use a coffee press or drip coffee method.
    2. Measure 3 tablespoons of ground coffee, and distribute it evenly into the filter.
    3. DO NOT shake the phin filters or the coffee grounds will drop into the holes of the coffee filter and plug up the holes! Place the metal filter gently on top of the coffee.
    4. Pour your desired amount of condensed milk into a mug or heat proof glass.
    5. Measure out 6 ounces of near-boiling water. 
    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. 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.

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