How to make Vietnamese coffee




So i’m sure it’s kind of similar to brewing with a pour over type of set up, or am i wrong? I’m just trying to grasp how the filter works. And on a different note, i’ve hear of using condensed milk for coffee, i havent tried myself but i can’t see how that could be bad… as i kid i used to just eat it straight out of the can :stuck_out_tongue: And i’m not 100% sure but i think there’s places in the world where they use butter instead of milk and i’ve been keen on trying that out sometime.


The video forgot the best part – POUR OVER ICE

iced Vietnamese coffee is the best thing! At least when it’s hot out…


You end up with a roughly espresso-strength coffee, rather than the strength you get from a typical pour-over. (The video said 60ml total water, though I think mine said to use more like 80, but that’s compared to 150-250 for a pour-over.)

The phin has a bunch of small holes in the bottom, and a layer of coffee, and another (usually screw-on) metal plate with holes on top of the coffee, and the reason for the “pour 20ml then wait” instruction is that the wet coffee grounds get packed pretty tight, so the second pouring of water drips through very slowly and spends a lot of time on the grounds. You want the top filter on tight enough that after the first pouring makes the grounds swell, the rest goes slowly, but loose enough that water eventually gets through.

Vietnamese coffee is usually either straight Robusta, or a blend of Robusta and Arabica beans, sometimes with extra flavorings added, in a fairly dark roast. Don’t let the old “Arabic’s better than Robusta” prejudices get in your way, good Robusta is good, with a distinctly different taste. Trung Nguyen (the brand that the article referenced) makes both straight and blended versions.


They use condensed milk quite a bit in the Canary Islands - a popular drink for women is the “Leche leche”, which is made with condensed milk, espresso and steamed milk layered in a small glass. For something a bit more fancy, the “barraquito” adds some liquor, cinnamon and lemon zest:


And if I’m drinking it warm, I pour some hot water into the cup to preheat it while I prepare the grounds. The smaller volume of coffee, plus the cold milk tend to make for lukewarm coffee if you don’t get extra heat in there.


Missed a great opportunity to use a video with a way better soundtrack!




Ah see that makes perfect sense, thank you. And I used to work for a local coffee shop in Reno, really great coffee and about 60% of the different grounds we carried were Robusta or blends with lots of Robusta. I think they have great flavor, they definitely play 2nd fiddle or Arabica beans and are under appreciated for coffee.


Great song and video. Thanks for the link :slight_smile:


Based on what I’ve seen in Vietnam and at Vietnamese restaurants in North America, Vietnamese coffee is pretty much always served in a glass, which lets you see how much condensed milk is at the bottom. Because it can be pretty syrupy after brewing (especially if not iced), you can also order hot water on the side to dilute it, Americano style. I’ve never seen a screw-down phin being used, either, though they obviously exist.

It’s also important to get good quality condensed milk. Lots of Asian and Vietnamese brands are cut with palm oil, but you want the stuff that is just milk and sugar. The America brand “Eagle Brand” is palm oil free, as are a few Vietnamese brands.

I believe all Trung Nguyen coffees are roasted in butter, and some have chicory-style seasoning (Cafe du Monde is sometimes seen as an American substitute if you can’t get your hands on Vietnamese coffee). Trung Nguyen’s USA distributor claims that their “Premium Blend” is the only roast to contain anything other than butter oil, but I’ve heard things that suggest otherwise. I’ve ordered online from them before, and they’re a pretty good deal. They have an $12 starter kit with coffee, phin, and milk that is a cheap way to see if you like it—though shipping likely kills the deal.


That really didn’t require an overwrought video with text overlay and a soundtrack. Junk like this is why I spend so little time attempting to “read” BoingBoing lately. The site’s push towards video and audio where text and images would serve better has become more than a bit annoying. There is very little left to read on BoingBoing, and it makes me sad.


I came here to say kinda the same thing about the video. (Not to mention, poor camera angles, unnecessary music and titles and effects (wtf?).) I couldn’t make it through to the end of just the beginning, really.

I kinda recall a much better video on the same topic from years ago here. In any case, here’s another good, straightforward instructional video.


What’s with the 15 seconds of film count down leader for a crappy shot-on-a-cell-phone video?

I love me some cà phê sữa nóng - in fact, I’m gonna go make some right now!


That’s why he included a credits section: to make sure you knew he was using a DSLR and not a cell phone. Of course, he somehow neglected to, you know, actually credit the composer and musician performing his soundtrack, but at least we know what equipment he used to make his crummy video.


I am going to watch this video again. Or rather, listen to it. That should make it an even dozen times I’ve listened to it. Catchy. Good video, too!

Edit: Thanks, Siri:


The best thing about these brewers is that they are very cheap in any Asian market pretty much anywhere in the world, so if you find yourself traveling somewhere and you’ve overestimated the availability of decent coffeeshops these can fill in as a temporary measure. The brewing process is not nearly as fiddly as the video makes it look, you can use any coffee, and you don’t need the milk.




Absolutely love ca phe sua da (plus a fistful of accents…), but it’s usually an exercise in anger management and frustration as well. I have the screw-in kind of top filter, and don’t seem to have the knack to operate it. I follow all the steps, do the first swelling phase, pour in the rest - and the grounds shift anyway, sometimes violently enough to twist the screw stem of the cheap-o filters we’ve found.

Should I know something about storing the grounds, maybe?
I have to admit that I usually freeze the grounds (Vietnamese coffee is not easy to get around here), but even if I let them warm up, I end up disappointed three times out of four.


When I was introduced to Vietnamese coffee by an elderly owner of a Vietnamese restaurant, he explained that Cafe du Monde was used because of the French colonial influence on Vietnam. The addition of chicory alongside the strong dark coffee provides the flavor notes that make iced Vietnamese coffee distinctively delicious. I’ve found that brewing it using coffee without chicory results in a delicious but not characteristic flavor. Perhaps my taste has been warped by the French frugality of chicory, but I cannot identify Vietnamese coffee without it.