Vietnamese Coffee

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How to make Vietnamese Coffee using a traditional Vietnamese coffee filter (phin), French press, or by using espresso capsules!

vietnamese coffee filter on glass

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have noticed that I drink a lot of coffee. Or, as my husband would put it, that I take lots of photos of coffee. I used to think that I was more of a tea drinker, but perhaps tea is simply not as photogenic … Whatever the case may be, not a day goes by without at least one caffeine fix, and one coffee which I would gladly drink at any time of the day is a Vietnamese coffee.

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The Vietnamese are serious coffee consumers and like their coffee really strong and bitter. But to counter that bitterness, sweetened condensed milk is used to create a bittersweet beverage which can be served both hot or cold.

Sweetened condensed milk is a staple ingredient in Vietnam and its widespread use came about many decades ago as a substitute for fresh milk in areas where refrigeration was not available.

I didn’t drink Vietnamese coffee as a child, but I have fond memories of eating buttered toast or grilled bread with sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top. I highly recommend it!

vietnamese coffee filter on glass with condensed milk

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee the Traditional Way

The traditional way of making a Vietnamese coffee is by using a special Vietnamese coffee filter, called a phin. It’s a cheap and flimsy contraption made of aluminium, easily found at most Asian grocery stores, but I have also seen more fancy and upmarket stainless steel versions sold in some specialty stores.

A good alternative is a French press, also called a plunger or cafetière. With this method, ground coffee is brewed in hot water before being filtered through the press or plunger (hence, the name). The coffee produced using a French press is not dissimilar in taste to that of a Vietnamese coffee filter, and the advantage is that you can make a larger quantity of coffee, depending on the size of your French press.

The same can also be said for stove-top coffee pots which generally produce very good strong espresso.

glass of vietnamese coffee with condensed milk

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee with Coffee Pods or Coffee Capsules

But the speediest route to making a good Vietnamese coffee is by using a capsule machine. I didn’t think I would ever go down this route, but when you barely have time to brush your hair in the morning, let alone wait for your coffee to slowly drip into your breakfast mug, I think you would be forgiven for cheating.

You need a very intense coffee to stand up to the sweetness of the condensed milk, so any robust espresso capsule will work well in a cheat’s version.

vietnamese coffee nescafe dolce gusto

vietnamese coffee nescafe dolce gusto

What Type of Coffee to Use for Vietnamese Coffee

If you prefer to make Vietnamese coffee the traditional way, look for robusta coffee beans, or maybe even try to source Vietnamese coffee beans which are available at some Vietnamese grocery stores. Roasted Vietnamese coffee beans are typically very dark and bitter; if you try to drink it black, you will know why sweetened condensed milk is added to make it more palatable.

In the US, the ground coffee of choice in most Vietnamese households is from Café Du Monde, a small but popular coffee chain in New Orleans. They are as famous for their café au lait as they are for their mouthwatering beignets generously dusted with icing sugar. Their coffee blend contains both coffee and chicory (coffee from Vietnam never contains chicory), but their French-style roast became popular with the early Vietnamese immigrants because, when compared to the American coffee available, it was the closest they could find to Vietnamese-grown coffee. I think it is a delicious coffee blend and I am thankful to my mother, who lives in New Orleans, for keeping me in good supply of these distinct orange tins.

So there you have it – many different ways of making a delicious Vietnamese coffee!

vietnamese coffee with cafe du monde coffee

Vietnamese Coffee

vietnamese coffee cafe du monde

5 from 4 reviews

How to make Vietnamese Coffee the traditional way and using espresso capsules!

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) hot espresso prepared using an espresso machine, stove-top pot, French press or capsule machine OR 2-3 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
  • ice cubes (optional)

Instructions

To make Vietnamese coffee using espresso

  1. Place the sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of a glass.
  2. Add the hot espresso.
  3. Stir to dissolve the condensed milk and taste to see if you need to add more.
  4. For an iced coffee, add some ice cubes and serve immediately.

To make Vietnamese coffee using a traditional Vietnamese coffee filter (phin)

  1. Place the sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of a glass.
  2. Place the coffee filter on top of the glass.
  3. Place the ground coffee into the cup of the filter and then press it down with the removable press.
  4. Pour in a little boiling water to moisten the coffee. Wait a few seconds, and then slowly fill up the cup of the filter with boiling water.
  5. Place the lid on the filter and wait for the coffee to slowly drip into the glass. Depending on the size of your filter, this should take about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the filter.
  7. Stir to dissolve the condensed milk and taste to see if you need to add more.
  8. For an iced coffee, add some ice cubes and serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

When making Vietnamese coffee, the rule of thumb is 1 part sweetened condensed milk to 2 parts espresso. Of course, everyone’s tastes vary so you can adjust to your liking by adding more espresso or using less condensed milk.

The Vietnamese coffee filters can vary a bit in style. The one pictured in the photos above is a very simple aluminium one where the cup is attached to the bottom filter and comes with a removable press. Other models feature a press which can be “screwed” down to better control the drip rate.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Nutritional info per glass
  • Calories: 170

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram and using #eatlittlebird

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21 comments on “Vietnamese Coffee

  1. Pam Greer 16 August 2017

    I love, love, love Vietnamese coffee. It’s like coffee candy that you can sip! I adopted my three daughters from Vietnam and we love Vietnamese food!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 August 2017

      Oh wow, I didn’t know you had 3 Vietnamese daughters! It must be wonderful to share and enjoy their Vietnamese heritage. I try to cook a lot of Vietnamese food at home so that my children can feel some connection to their Vietnamese background 🙂

      Reply
  2. Alyssa 16 August 2017

    I love that capsule machine! That’s such a unique drip coffee maker.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 August 2017

      I quite enjoy using the Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee machine – it makes really delicious coffee!

      Reply
  3. Jagruti 16 August 2017

    This coffee is new to me,it’s very interesting. Thanks

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 August 2017

      I hope you will get a chance to try Vietnamese coffee one day. It’s really delicious!

      Reply
  4. Kate | Veggie Desserts 16 August 2017

    I love coffee, but your pictures have made me fall in love with it all over again!

    Reply
  5. I’m totally addicted to my morning coffee, and this is such a new and exciting way to have it, I’m going to try this this weekend with my French press ~ your photos are gorgeous!

    Reply
  6. […] I recently tried making Vietnamese coffee using espresso coffee capsules and the results were absolutely delicious! Click here to see my recipe. […]

    Reply
  7. Sophie | Delightful Plate 26 August 2017

    My childhood was filled with the aroma of Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk because my grandfather drank it every day and I sometimes drank it with him. I now make Vietnamese coffee with Trung Nguyen coffee no. 8. It tastes great but sometimes gives me a hard time sleeping at night. I need to try Cafe du Monde coffee next time.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 26 August 2017

      I need to try Trung Nguyen coffee! I had never heard of it until recently when my aunt brought some back from Vietnam, but she had brought them back for a friend, so I wasn’t able to try any. I highly recommend Café du Monde coffee – I never tire of it 🙂

      Reply
      • Sophie | Delightful Plate 14 September 2017

        Hi Thanh! Trung Nguyen is one of the popular coffee brands in Vietnam. I bought Café du Monde last week and made Vietnamese coffee with it last weekend. My first impression is it seems to have a more sour taste (more acidity?) than Trung Nguyen coffee (the one I use is Trung Nguyen Creative No. 8). Besides, it doesn’t have a chocolatey aroma as Trung Nguyen, probably because Trung Nguyen coffee is roasted with butter and other spices. I think I like both. I’m just a casual coffee drinker with limited knowledge, so if you happen to try Trung Nguyen, I would love to read what you think about it.

        Reply
        • Eat, Little Bird 26 September 2017

          Hi Sophie, now you have made me really curious about Trung Nguyen coffee! I’m going to see if my Asian grocer might stock it. I would love to compare 🙂 It also sounds really exotic to serve Vietnamese coffee, especially here in Europe where it is not so popular, or even heard of. I recently discovered Vietnamese chocolate and that was also really interesting to try, especially in a country like Switzerland 🙂

          Reply
  8. Vanitha 3 September 2017

    This coffee has been on my to-try list for some time; I had even bought a can of condensed milk for that! Looking at your cuppa coffee, I am so tempted to make this ASAP 🙂 Awesome!!

    Reply
  9. […] I highly recommend making some Chinese Almond Cookies to serve with some Jasmine tea, or even a Vietnamese Coffee to finish the […]

    Reply
  10. Julia 16 April 2018

    YUM! This looks so delicious!

    Reply
  11. Don B. Whipkey 1 May 2018

    Can you give me a source for the glass that is displayed in your Vietnamese coffee article? Thanx. Enjoyed it.

    Vietnamese Coffee

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 May 2018

      Hi Don,
      I bought these glasses some years ago from a store called Interio in Zurich. Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply

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