What is Vietnamese Coffee?

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Vietnamese coffee, a unique and flavourful beverage that has captured the hearts of coffee enthusiasts worldwide, offers an enchanting sensory experience.

This traditional coffee preparation method has become a symbol of Vietnamese culture, and its distinct taste profile and brewing techniques have made it a beloved choice among coffee aficionados.

In this Coffee Expert guide, we will explore the origins, characteristics, and variations of Vietnamese coffee, helping you better understand and appreciate this delightful coffee creation.

The Origins of Vietnamese Coffee

A Rich History

Coffee was first introduced to Vietnam in the 19th century by French colonists, who sought to establish plantations in the region.

Over time, the Vietnamese people embraced coffee cultivation and developed their unique brewing techniques and flavour combinations, resulting in the creation of Vietnamese coffee as we know it today.

Robusta Beans and Their Influence

Vietnamese coffee is primarily made from Robusta beans, which are more abundant in the region compared to Arabica beans.

Robusta beans are known for their bold and robust flavour, higher caffeine content, and lower acidity, contributing to the distinct taste profile of Vietnamese coffee.

The Characteristics of Vietnamese Coffee

Bold Flavours

Vietnamese coffee is known for its bold, strong, and full-bodied flavour profile, with a pleasant bitterness and a hint of natural sweetness from the Robusta beans.

This intense coffee experience is complemented by the addition of sweetened condensed milk, which adds a rich, velvety texture and a delightful sweetness to the beverage.

Brewing Technique

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is brewed using a metal drip filter known as a “phin.” The phin sits atop a glass or cup, and hot water is poured over coarsely ground coffee, allowing the brewed coffee to slowly drip into the glass.

This method results in a strong and concentrated coffee that pairs perfectly with the sweetened condensed milk.

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee


To make Vietnamese coffee, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 20g coarsely ground Vietnamese Robusta coffee beans
  • 150ml hot water (around 93°C or 200°F)
  • 30-45ml sweetened condensed milk, to taste

The Brewing Process

  1. Begin by adding the sweetened condensed milk to the bottom of a glass or cup.
  2. Next, place the phin on top of the glass and fill it with the coarsely ground coffee.
  3. Gently tamp the coffee grounds to ensure even brewing.
  4. Pour a small amount of hot water over the coffee grounds to allow them to bloom and expand, then wait for about 20-30 seconds.
  5. Slowly pour the remaining hot water over the grounds, and allow the coffee to drip through the phin and into the glass. This process should take approximately 4-5 minutes.
  6. Once the brewing is complete, remove the phin and stir the coffee and sweetened condensed milk together.
  7. Enjoy your Vietnamese coffee hot, or pour it over ice for a refreshing iced version.

Popular Vietnamese Coffee Variations

Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Iced Vietnamese Coffee)

Cà phê sữa đá is the iced version of Vietnamese coffee, which is perfect for warm weather or as a refreshing pick-me-up. To make this variation, simply pour the freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee and sweetened condensed milk mixture over a glass filled with ice.

Cà Phê Trứng (Egg Coffee)

Cà phê trứng, or egg coffee, is a unique and indulgent Vietnamese coffee variation that incorporates whipped egg yolks, sugar, and condensed milk, creating a rich and creamy beverage that is reminiscent of a coffee-flavoured custard. This distinctive coffee creation is popular in Hanoi and offers a delightful twist on the traditional Vietnamese coffee.

Cà Phê Cốt Dừa (Coconut Coffee)

Cà phê cốt dừa, or coconut coffee, is a delicious Vietnamese coffee variation that features a blend of strong Vietnamese coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and rich coconut cream. This tropical-inspired beverage is perfect for those seeking a unique and exotic coffee experience.

Tips for Perfecting Your Vietnamese Coffee

Use High-Quality Robusta Beans

To achieve an authentic Vietnamese coffee flavour, it’s essential to use high-quality Vietnamese Robusta coffee beans. These beans will provide the bold and robust taste that is characteristic of this traditional beverage.

Adjust Sweetness to Taste

When it comes to adding sweetened condensed milk to your Vietnamese coffee, feel free to adjust the amount to suit your personal taste preferences. Some may prefer a sweeter coffee, while others may enjoy a more balanced flavour profile.

Be Patient with the Brewing Process

The traditional Vietnamese phin filter brewing process can take some time, but the result is worth the wait.

Be patient and allow the coffee to slowly drip through the filter to create a strong, concentrated coffee that pairs perfectly with the sweetened condensed milk.

Vietnamese Coffee vs. Other Coffee Preparations

Unique Flavour Profile and Texture

One of the key differences between Vietnamese coffee and other coffee preparations is the distinct flavour profile and texture that results from the use of Robusta beans and sweetened condensed milk. The bold, intense flavour and rich, velvety texture set Vietnamese coffee apart from other coffee beverages.

Brewing Technique

The use of the phin filter for brewing Vietnamese coffee also distinguishes it from other coffee preparations, such as espresso or drip coffee.

The slow drip process creates a concentrated and robust coffee that is ideally suited to the addition of sweetened condensed milk.

Our Conclusion on Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee is a captivating and enticing coffee creation that offers a unique and memorable sensory experience.

By understanding the origins, characteristics, and variations of Vietnamese coffee, you can better appreciate this delightful coffee tradition and confidently enjoy it in the comfort of your own home or at a local Vietnamese café.

Whether you’re a seasoned coffee enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of coffee culture, Vietnamese coffee presents a delightful fusion of flavours and textures that is sure to awaken your senses and leave you craving more.