Vietnamese Coffee Phin - The Classic Vietnamese Coffee Maker

Vietnamese Coffee Phin – The Classic Vietnamese Coffee Maker

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 17:26

The Vietnamese coffee phin is a classic Vietnamese coffee maker, highly underrated and is gaining popularity due to being a zero waste brewer with no paper filter needed.

In this article, I give you a great Vietnamese coffee phin recipe and show you how to make a cà phê sữa đá – A Vietnamese iced coffee with milk.

Keep reading to find out how to make this tasty and rather delicious cup of coffee.

What Is Vietnamese Coffee Phin?  The Classic Vietnamese Coffee Maker

For Vietnamese coffee lovers and coffee drinkers, phin coffee is a ritual, a cultural ritual. It’s for those that love the slow paced life, to chillax and chill out and watch life go past as your Vietnamese coffee phin slowly drips away into your cup below.

The iconic coffee brewing tool that you see sitting on top of a tall glass, or over a cup, was brought into the Asian nation and popularized by the French colonialists in the 1860s. Which is hardly surprising, as it was the French that brought coffee to Vietnam.

It’s a beginner-friendly brewing method that requires no skill at all to be brewing coffee that is every bit as good as a local that has brewed a thousand cups.

The whole device, all four parts are usually made of stainless steel and has the advantage of being a zero waste device as no paper filter is needed.

(yes, your coffee grounds can be recycled in many ways).

Vietnamese Coffee Phin
Vietnamese Coffee Phin

Read: Vietnamese phin coffee maker

Vietnamese Coffee Phin Filter Parts

Let’s talk more about the 4 main parts of a Vietnamese coffee phin brewer, let’s talk more about those.

The Brewing Chamber

The brewing chamber, often called the brew chamber, is the main body, the main part of your Vietnamese coffee maker; it is where you put the coffee grounds and hot water. You’ll notice tiny holes that are big enough for water to pass through yet small enough to stop your medium-coarse coffee grounds from passing through to your cup of coffee below.

The Base Filter

This is the small plate that the brew chamber sits on and supports your phin brewer as it sits on top of your cup as your Vietnamese coffee dripper drips away brewing you a great cup of coffee.

The Strainer

There are two types of strainer, a screw in and gravity device. The screw in, well, as the name suggests, you screw it in. It’s a more awkward version as you will struggle to get the pressure right as there is no way of measuring it.

The gravity version of this part of your phin coffee brewer works with gravity. The weight of the water on top of it is enough.

The strainer is placed on top of your coffee grounds, and your hot water is poured on top of the strainer.

The Cap

The lid or the cap as it is also known is placed on top of your Vietnamese coffee phin filter coffee maker to help the hot water retain its heat while the water is brewing and extracting your coffee. It also serves to prevent anything from contaminating your coffee.

Vietnamese Coffee Phin Recipe – Vietnamese Iced Coffee With Milk Cà Phê Sữa Đá

Let’s get you making a great and tasty Vietnamese coffee phin with this recipe for a cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee).

Ingredients Needed

  • Vietnamese Robusta coffee grounds 15 grams (1/2 Oz).
  • Filtered water or bottled mineral water 120 ml (4 oz).
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.
  • 3 to 4 cubes of ice.

The Method

Making Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá) with your Vietnamese coffee maker is easy.

Start by preheating your brewing equipment and your coffee cup. Simply add hot water are swirl it around, then discard your water. Heat your water for brewing to 92C to 96C (195F to 205F).

While your water is heating up, weigh your coffee beans when they are whole and weigh 15 grams. The mass of your coffee beans is the same, be they ground or whole. Grind to a medium-coarse grind size. If you are using a Baratza Encore grinder, use numbers 14 to 16.

Put the coffee grounds in the brewing chamber, and give the device a little shake while on a flat surface to ensure an even distribution.

Put the base filter on top of your cup and place the brew chamber on top of it. Put the gravity strainer on top of the coffee grounds and pour a little of your hot water over the gravity strainer and wet your coffee grounds and let them bloom for 20 to 25 seconds.

Once your coffee has bloomed, pour the rest of your hot water and put the cap in place and wait for your coffee to drip into your cup.

The brewing time should take 3 to 5 minutes.

When your coffee has brewed, add one or two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and mix well. When ready add your ice.

Drink and enjoy.

Vietnamese Coffee Phin Recipe
Vietnamese Coffee Phin Recipe

Read: How to make Vietnamese coffee

What Does Phin Coffee Taste Like?

The taste of phin filter coffee is earthy, deep, savory and complex; it’s somewhere in between a drip coffee and a shot of espresso.

Some coffee lovers even refer to phin coffee as a Vietnamese-style espresso due to the concentrated taste, flavor and toasty notes.

Universally, the length and breadth of the country it is the most popular and commonly sold cup of coffee.

You’ll see it everywhere, from coffee shops to street corners to coffee carts pushed by lovely old ladies and gentlemen. It is so universal and everywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vietnamese Coffee Phin

Is Vietnamese Coffee Stronger Than Regular Coffee?


Vietnamese coffee is stronger than regular coffee and is more bitter too. This is because Vietnamese coffee is predominantly made with robusta coffee beans, which are 2.2x more caffeinated than Arabica coffee beans.

Due to Vietnamese coffee being made with robusta coffee beans, it tends to be a little weaker in flavor. This is a characteristic of robusta coffee.

Is Vietnamese Coffee Stronger Than Espresso?

Yes, a Vietnamese coffee is stronger and more caffeinated than an espresso shot. A shot of espresso has 65 mg of caffeine on average at a local coffee shop, 75 mg at Starbucks and 85 mg as a Starbucks blonde espresso roast.

A 4 oz (120 ml) of Vietnamese coffee has on average 100 mg of caffeine. When counting the total caffeine content, a Vietnamese coffee has more caffeine. On a per volume basis, per ounce, a Vietnamese coffee has only 25 mg of caffeine which is less than the 65 to 85 mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso on a per-volume basis.

Read: Cafe phin

Why Is Viet Coffee So Strong?

Vietnamese coffee is so strong as the majority of Vietnamese coffee beans are robusta coffee beans which have up to 2.2x caffeine more than their Arabica counterparts. In addition to this the most popular way of making coffee in Vietnamese coffee culture, the phin brewing method is very good at extracting the caffeine from the beans.

Why Is Vietnamese Coffee So Delicious?

Having spent 3 years living in the country, I can tell you that the Vietnamese are great at roasting their coffee to get all the flavors into the bean and ready for brewing. They are slow roasted at low temperatures for approximately 15 minutes.

Also, the brewing process using the phin filter to make their traditional phin coffee is somewhat of a mix between French press fill immersion steeping of the grounds and drip coffee. It’s a method that is excellent at drawing out the flavor from the grounds and getting them into your cup.

No paper filter is used or needed as the phin filter coffee is a metal filter which ensures that all the coffee oils and delicious flavors get into your cup of fresh-brewed phin coffee.

Why Does Vietnamese Coffee Taste Like Alcohol?

The Robusta coffee beans used have a lower acidity level and reduced flavor than Arabica coffee and can taste a little like alcohol or wine, hence the original name for coffee being Arabic wine.

It’s not that Vietnamese coffee tastes like alcohol; it is that Robusta coffee does. Coffee tasting like alcohol is not exclusive to Vietnam.

Does A Phin Make Espresso?


a true shot of espresso with a rich, thick layer of crema on top needs 130 PSI (9 bar) or pressure a phin filter coffee kit does not create any pressure at all and does not make espresso shots.

You can use your phin coffee maker to make a strong tasting coffee that you use for the base of some milk based espresso beverages like an iced caramel macchiato.

Final Thoughts – Vietnamese Coffee Phin

Using your Vietnamese coffee phin to make a cup of coffee that is much loved by the locals a cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee with milk) is one of the best that you can make with a phin coffee filter. 

It was one of my favorite coffees while living in Vietnam! Try it; I’m sure you will enjoy it!

Join our vibrant online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and share your Vietnamese coffee phin images, selfies and your tasty coffee creations, funny memes and jokes. 

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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