Phin coffee

Phin Coffee – Everything You Need To Know

Phin coffee is a delightful fusion of traditional Phin filter coffee and sweet condensed milk. A Vietnamese wonder that quickly captured the hearts of coffee lovers worldwide.

In this guide, we delve into the intriguing history behind this tool, discuss recipes, share tips, and provide all you need to know about Phin coffee.

Let’s jump right in!

What Is Phin Coffee?

Vietnam is one of the world’s largest coffee exporters and has an equally rich coffee culture. Phin coffee is a poster child of Vietnamese coffee culture. It’s made from a traditional Phin filter kit, resembling a pour-over filter and French press. Vietnamese Phin filter is a gravity-led manual tool that utilizes a dripping process that extracts a bold, robust taste with a hint of nutty and chocolaty flavor.

The Phin coffee also goes by the name Vietnamese coffee or cà phê sữa đá, meaning iced coffee with condensed milk. Because of the hot tropical weather, Vietnamese folks prefer cold coffee.

What Is Phin Coffee Made Of?

Phin coffee is made with a special stainless steel coffee filter from Vietnam called Phin filter. Traditionally, you start by placing sweet, condensed milk in the cup. Next, pour Phin-coffee over it, add ice, and give it a good stir.

What Coffee Beans Are Best for Making Traditional Vietnamese Coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is best made from medium to dark roasted Robusta beans with medium-coarse grind size. You can dial in the grind setting to make it finer than what you’d use for pour-over coffee.

The History of Phin Coffee

History of Phin Coffee

Vietnamese were first introduced to coffee cultivation by French colonists in the 19th century. All thanks to a French Catholic priest who first brought a coffee plant to Vietnam in 1857. The French also brought with them the famous French Press brewer. However, it was too expensive for local people.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. So, over time, people started getting inventive, crafting more affordable coffee makers, which eventually paved the way for the creation of the stainless steel Phin filter. The method was an instant hit, and people loved the unique coffee flavor it brings.

Later, people tinkered with recipes, which led to condensed milk and ice being added, resulting in the iconic “cà phê sữa đá” – iced coffee with sweet milk. Condensed milk was preferred due to its longer shelf life and the lack of a large-scale dairy industry in that era.

Even with social and political changes over time, Phin filter coffee remains important to Vietnamese culture, symbolizing a blend of traditions and innovation.

Who Invented Phin Coffee?

Phin coffee was invented in the 20th century, but we don’t know the exact inventors of the Phin filter kit. So, you can say it evolved over time in Vietnam as a response to various historical and cultural influences.

Where Is Phin Coffee From?

Phin coffee is from Vietnam and is the most popular coffee beverage in Vietnamese culture. It has also been introduced to America in recent years and has become trendy in specialty coffee shops. Sahra Nguyen, an award-winning Vietnamese American entrepreneur from Boston, has played a significant role in popularizing it in the USA.

How Much Caffeine Is in A Phin Coffee?

Typically, Phin coffee is made with Robusta coffee beans and has high caffeine content. It’s made with a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio, meaning an 8 oz cup would have four tablespoons of coffee and 260 mg of caffeine in it. It’s even higher than double shots of espresso.

How Many Calories Are in A Phin Coffee?

A cup of Phin coffee with 1-2 oz of sweetened condensed milk has about 120-130 calories.

How To Make Phin Coffee in 4 Simple Steps

Making Phin Coffee

Before going into the recipe, let’s talk about how the Phin filter works. A Phin filter kit includes a perforated plate, a brew chamber, a tamper, and a lid. That’s it. The water seeps through the coffee beans sitting on the chamber bed due to gravity extracting the flavor and slowly drips coffee into the cup.

Let’s discuss the steps to brew the perfect Vietnamese coffee.

Step 1: Gather the Tools And Ingredients

A Phin filter kit mostly comes in 4 oz, 6 oz, and 12 oz cup sizes. For our recipe, we will use a 6 oz Phin filter. We prefer dark-roasted Robusta beans, but you can use any kind available.

Next, you need sweetened condensed milk. Some people also like to add milk, cream, and honey to it, but we are going to stick to the traditional cà phê đá, aka iced coffee with condensed milk.

Step 2: Grind Coffee Beans

We are going with a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio, so a 6 oz brewing chamber would need three tablespoons or 42 grams of coffee beans. Grind them to a medium-coarse consistency but finer than the one used for pour-over coffee.

Boil one cup of filtered water and let it sit for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Let It Bloom

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Add 1-2 oz of condensed milk into the coffee cup. Now place the phin filter plate on the cup, followed by the chamber. Fill it with the coffee grind. Tap and shake it well to get an even bed of coffee.

Now add slowly 1 oz of hot water in a circular motion and let it bloom for 30-60 sec. The blooming process releases trapped gasses inside the coffee beans and prepares them for extraction.

Step 4: Pour Water

Place the tamper or presser inside the chamber and slowly add the remaining hot water. The extraction will begin immediately. Wait for 6 to 8 minutes until the dripping process stops. Remove the Phin filter, add ice cubes, and stir the final brew. Voila, you’ll have tasty Vietnamese coffee to enjoy.

Additional Tips

If the coffee doesn’t start to drip over or drips very slowly, it could be due to the presence of an air pocket. Lift the presser slightly to release the pressure, which will smoothen the process.

If the dripping is too fast, leading to weak coffee, try using a finer grind size.

If the coffee is too strong, simply dilute it with extra hot water.

Phin Coffee Recipe

Phin Coffee

Print Pin
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


  • Phin filter kit
  • Coffee grinder
  • Kettle
  • Coffee Cup
  • Kitchen Scale


  • Dark Roast Robusta Coffee: 42gm (3 Tablespoons)
  • Condensed milk: 1-2 oz
  • Water


  • Heat water to boil and let it sit for a few seconds. In the meantime, grind coffee beans to medium coarse grind.
  • Pour condensed milk into the cup and place the phin filter plate and chamber on the top.
  • Add coffee to the chamber and tap to distribute evenly. Pour 1 oz of hot water into the chamber. Let it bloom for 40 seconds.
  • Place the presser (tamper) inside the chamber and slowly add the rest of the water.
  • Wait for 6-8 minutes until the dripping stops. Remove the filter.
  • Add ice cubes and stir.
  • Enjoy your iced Phin coffee.

Why Is Phin Coffee Eco-Friendly?

Why Is Phin Coffee Eco-Friendly

Absolutely, the Phin filter doesn’t require paper or any other disposable filter, making it the most eco-friendly and sustainable brewing process. It’s also easier to wash and store.

What Is the Difference Between Phin Coffee and French Press Coffee?

Though the design of the Phin filter is inspired by the French press, the two coffees are actually quite different. Phin coffee utilizes a gravity-led dripping process similar to pour-over coffee, resulting in robust yet light-bodied and strong brew flavors. On the other hand, the French press uses a plunger method that extracts aromatic oils, leading to a full-bodied coffee flavor.

Types Of Phin Coffee – Phin Coffee Flavors

Vietnamese coffee culture is rich, giving rise to many delicious coffee recipes over time. Here are some variants that are a must-try.

Coffee Vietnamese name Description
Iced Phin Coffee Cà phê sữa đá Phin coffee with condensed milk and ice.
Phin coffee (Hot version) Cà phê sữa nóng Hot Phin coffee with condensed milk and no ice.
Black coffee Cà phê đa Simple black phin drip coffee served with ice.
Coconut coffee Cà phê dừa Blend of coconut milk, phin coffee, and condensed milk.
Egg coffee Cà phê trứng Smooth blend of phin coffee and condensed milk topped with egg yolk.
Avocado coffee Cà phê bơ Delicious mixture of phin coffee, avocado, condensed milk, and vanilla syrup.
Smoothie coffee Sinh Tố Cà Phê Tasty combination of fruits like sapodilla and banana with phin coffee and condensed milk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Phin Coffee Stronger?

Yes, Phin coffee is stronger than regular pour-over and drip coffee because of slow extraction and high coffee-to-water ratio. It also has a high antioxidant content, making it even more healthy. A single serving can have up to 265 mg of caffeine. So, it’s best to not have one at night.

Can You Use Any Coffee for Phin?

Yes, you can use any coffee for Phin, but dark-roasted Robusta beans are traditionally the preferred choice.

Is A Phin the Same As A French Press?

No, they aren’t. Phin Filter and French Press are separate tools and work on different principles. The Phin filter utilizes gravity to slowly pass water through coffee grounds, while in the French press, a plunger forcefully extracts the coffee. Although they both feature similar metallic plates, the resulting brews are indeed different.

Can I Make Vietnamese Coffee Without a Phin?

You must have a Phin filter kit to brew Phin coffee. However, some recommend using the French Press as an alternative. But in our experience, it doesn’t lead to the same flavor profile.

Is Phin Coffee Like Espresso?

Phin coffee is a light-bodied and smooth coffee with high caffeine content. It’s made with Phin filter. You can say it’s as strong as espresso, but the texture and mouthfeel are totally different. The high pressure made by an espresso machine changes the flavor profile.

What Can I Substitute for Phin?

The French press could be the closest thing to the Phin filter, but it’s no substitute. For an authentic Vietnamese coffee experience, buying the Phin filter is best.


So, we’ve had a sneak peek into Vietnamese coffee culture. Phin coffee offers a delicious break from your everyday pour-over or drip coffee. Its distinctive flavors make it a perfect way to kickstart your day or fight the evening slump. Try our recipes, but do remember to enjoy Phin coffee in moderation, as it packs a stronger punch than regular brews.