One of the most iconic drinks from Southeast Asia, Vietnamese coffee is rich, perfectly sweetened, and delicious both hot and iced! For this recipe, I’ll be teaching you how to use a traditional Vietnamese phin coffee filter and classic Vietnamese ingredients to make your own café quality Vietnamese coffee at home.
What Makes Vietnamese Coffee Different?
Two major factors define Vietnamese coffee: the phin filter and the condensed milk. Unlike the coffee we are used to having here in the US, which is made in a coffee machine and mixed with creamer and sugar, Vietnamese coffee or Cà Phê Sữa uses a slow-drip method and condensed milk to impart sweetness and thickness. The result is creamy coffee with a noticeably stronger flavor and an almost caramelized milky undertone.
Another thing to note about Vietnamese coffee is that the average portion is smaller than that of US coffee. This is because Vietnamese coffee is much stronger, kind of like an espresso, so less of it is needed.
How to Make Vietnamese Coffee (Cà Phê Sữa)
Authentic Vietnamese coffee is made in just three steps:
- Pour the condensed milk into your cup.
- Put the coffee grounds into your Vietnamese coffee filter, also known as phin filter.
- Fill the filter with very hot (but not boiling) water and let the brewed coffee slowly drip into your cup.
Vietnamese coffee is an experience, so take the time to relax and appreciate the process!
When the coffee is ready, you can transfer it into a glass with ice to make Vietnamese iced coffee or Cà Phê Sữa Đá. And if you want it black, you can omit the condensed milk. This version is called Cà Phê Đen Đá.
How to Make It the Best Vietnamese Coffee
The best measurements for this drink are 3 tablespoons of ground coffee, 12-16 tablespoons of water, and 1-3 tablespoons of condensed milk depending on how sweet you would like it.
If you want to make it even more authentic, you can use the brands Café Du Monde for the coffee and Longevity for the condensed milk. These are the most popular choices in Vietnam. Café Du Monde is favored because it’s actually mixed with a little bit of chicory root, which imparts a woody, earthy flavor that’s unique to authentic Vietnamese coffee. Longevity condensed milk meanwhile, is made with pure whole milk and sugar with no added oils or thickeners.
You can really feel the difference in flavor and quality of your Cà Phê Đá when you use these two ingredients! Vietnamese people really know how to brew a delicious cup of coffee.
How to Use Vietnamese Phin Coffee Filter
The Vietnamese phin coffee filter is an essential part of the coffee-making process. It’s very similar to trendy pour-over coffee drippers in that it uses gravity and time to brew your coffee, which gives it a stronger and more delicious taste. But what I think makes the Vietnamese version slightly better is that you don’t need to use any filter paper – less waste and less extra expense! If you don’t have a Vietnamese coffee filter, I highly recommend buying one. There are a variety of sizes and designs available online.
Besides Cà Phê Đá, you can also use the phin filter for other kinds of coffee, just like you would a french press or pour-over dripper. You can also experiment with all sorts of Vietnamese coffee varieties!
Vietnamese Coffee Variations
There are lots of other versions of Vietnamese coffee you can try. Experiment a little bit each day and transform your home into a cozy Vietnamese café!
- For a similar creaminess with just a hint of refreshing tang, try Vietnamese yogurt coffee (Sữa Chua Cà Phê).
- If you like your coffee with extra foam or whipped cream, you might enjoy egg yolk coffee (Cà Phê Trứng) which has a lovely frothy texture and custardy flavor.
- For a tropical twist, try Vietnamese coconut coffee (Cà Phê Cốt Dừa) which is a more recent trend in Vietnam. You can make it by adding a bit of coconut milk into your Vietnamese iced coffee or using a blend of fresh milk and coconut milk with plain Vietnamese coffee.