Vietnamese cold brew coffee on a wooden table
Types of Coffee

Vietnamese Cold Brew: How To Make it Using a Phin

Vietnamese cold brew coffee on a wooden table

Part of the fun of drinking coffee is enjoying the beverage as it’s consumed around the world. An American cup of coffee is different from one you’d order in Italy or one you’d get in Asia. With so many cultural influences, ordering a coffee drink can truly be an adventure in and of itself. One of our favorite cultural takes on the humble mug of coffee is Vietnamese cold brew.

This beverage is the perfect blend of strong java notes and sweet hints. The main ingredients are strong Vietnamese coffee, water, and condensed milk. Here, we’ll show you how to make a traditional cup of Vietnamese cold brew.

What Is Vietnamese Coffee?

people drinking Vietnamese coffee

Also called Cafe Sua Da, Vietnamese coffee is a blend of Vietnamese dark roast beans, condensed milk, and ice. The drink is made using a special filter called a phin. It’s a single serve coffee maker that allows water to slowly seep through the beans. This creates a rich, strong, and bold coffee that coffee drinkers love.

The condensed milk adds unparalleled sweetness that balances well with the strong coffee notes. Vietnamese coffee is commonly served as a cold brew, but you can also whip it up as a hot drink depending on the season and your preferences.

Tips for Using a Vietnamese Phin 

Vietnamese cold brew using a phin

Traditional Vietnamese coffee is made using a phin. You can still make this coffee without one (more on that in a minute), but for the most authentic brewing experience, it’s worth brewing with a phin.

A phin filter is a metal filter so you don’t have to use paper filters. That means less waste — which is better for the planet and your wallet in the long term. Phin filters come in various sizes. The single serve size is around four ounces or you can snag a 40 ounce filter for a large family-size batch of Vietnamese cold brew coffee.

A phin consists of four parts: the chamber, a plate, a gravity press, and a lid. It’s a lot like an espresso portafilter, Chemex, or a French Press except that it uses gravity instead of hand pressure for filtering. 

Here’s how to use a phin:

  1. Place the chamber on top of the plate. Set this on top of your single serve mug.
  2. Add sweetened condensed milk to your coffee mug (optional).
  3. Fill the chamber with ground coffee beans and set the tamper on top.
  4. Heat water to 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit in a kettle and pour the water into the chamber.
  5. Put the lid on top and let the water seep through into the cup. Your coffee should be ready in two to five minutes. Serve over ice if you want a Vietnamese iced coffee.

Using a Vietnamese phin can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly easy to use. Plus, it’ll make your coffee taste five times better than just buying  concentrates.

How To Make Vietnamese Cold Brew

ingredients to make Vietnamese cold brew coffee

To make Vietnamese cold brew, you’ll need a few ingredients: medium coarse-ground dark roast beans from Vietnam, water, a phin filter, condensed milk, and ice. The total time takes around 10 minutes since you need to wait for the hot brew to cool to room temperature. However, actual prep time takes just a few minutes. That means you can start a cup, do a few things and come back to it when you’re ready.

For a simpler approach, you can simply fill a glass with ice and add in cold brew concentrate. Top it off with a spoonful of condensed milk and enjoy. Technically, this isn’t a true Vietnamese coffee, but it offers a similar flavor without having to purchase special brewing equipment. If you love this style of coffee, it’s worth investing in a phin filter to enjoy this beverage just like the locals.

Here’s what you need to brew Vietnamese cold brew using a phin:

  • 2 tablespoons ground coffee (dark roast and a medium-coarse grind is best)
  • 4 fl oz of water
  • A phin filter
  • A single serve coffee mug (for brewing the hot liquid)
  • A glass filled with ice (for enjoying the cold brew when it’s ready)

Here’s how to make traditional Vietnamese cold brew:

  1. Add the coffee grinds to the phin chamber. Place the tamper on top and set the chamber on the plate on top of a mug. Note: this is not the mug you’ll be drinking out of since you want cold brew (not hot coffee).
  2. Pour water in the phin and let it filter through.
  3. Let the coffee cool to room temperature.
  4. When the coffee has cooled, add sweetened condensed milk to a large glass filled with ice.
  5. Pour in the coffee concentrate and enjoy your Vietnamese cold brew!

Enjoy the Sweet Taste of a Vietnamese Cold Brew

iced coffee brewing using a phin filter

You don’t need to go to an expensive coffee shop like Starbucks to get a delicious Vietnamese cold brew. Use this Vietnamese iced coffee recipe to make a Vietnamese-style beverage right in your own home. It’s quick and easy to make whether you choose to use a phin or or a coffee concentrate. However you brew, you’re sure to enjoy sipping on a sweet, refreshing beverage. 

Looking for other ways to enjoy a cup of coffee? Try flavored coffee with additives like cardamom and hazelnut or opt for a sweet mocha latte. Make sure to try coffee beans from different countries too. Each one has a unique flavor defending on the terroir and how it’s produced. Not sure where to start? Check out our country guides and don’t miss our favorites including Brazilian coffee, Ethiopian coffee, and Guatemalan coffee.

After chasing down everything there was to know about tea on the Cup & Leaf blog, I'm now exploring the world of coffee. From different types to countries with the best brews and everything in between, I'll be your guide on this coffee discovery.