The Best Vietnamese Coffee Drink Recipe: A Guide for Beginners

The Best Vietnamese Coffee Drink Recipe: A Guide for Beginners

Vietnamese coffee

The Vietnamese drink is sweet and flavorful. It is a popular drink in Vietnam. Vietnam is a nation that loves coffees, even visitors start behaving alike when they get to Vietnam. They love to start their day with a satisfying and sweet cup of ca phe

Although Vietnam imported this tradition from French colonists in the 18th century, they have been able to refine it into a fine unique Asian experience. You don't have to go to Vietnam to enjoy this delicious coffee.  

Section 1: What is Vietnamese coffee?

A cup of Vietnamese coffee (also called Tet Sheu), is made with two to five different ingredients, and the final product has some variation depending on where you buy it, how it’s made, and the milk used. Bun, or “nước mắm” in Vietnamese, is a simple ingredient and an important part of the final product.

Vietnamese coffee is made with mostly Robusta beans but if you can't deal with the bitter taste of Robusta, you can opt for fresh Arabica beans, they are sweeter. You can also buy strong coffee blends here to make this drink with bold flavors.

Vietnamese coffee can be served with ice or milk, especially condensed milk. The ice and condensed milk make a lot of difference to the coffee.

History Of Vietnamese Coffee

This coffee originated in the 19th century when the French colonial settlers came to Vietnam. They brought coffee over, that is the plant. They didn't just bring coffee, they also brought another important coffee element- sweetened condensed milk. These settlers brought the milk along. They couldn't get fresh milk in Vietnam because the people there were not milk dependent. 

At first glance, Vietnamese coffee looks like a very simple coffee drink with just sugar, milk, and condensed milk. However, a more thorough look reveals that the beverage has more to offer.

Coffee is a relative newcomer to Vietnamese cuisine, but it has gained an enthusiastic following in the last few years. For a long time, this country was dominated by tea, and it was only in 1995 when Vietnam legalized the production and consumption of coffee within its borders. Nowadays, it has become a mainstay in this unique, thriving culture.

Nevertheless, there are different types of Vietnamese coffee, and you need to know them well to get a great taste of the drink. There is iced black coffee, Vietnamese yogurt coffee, Vietnamese iced coffee, and lots more. 

Unique Ingredients For Vietnamese Coffee

So you want to learn how to make Vietnamese coffee, then you’d need to get the following:


The Vietnamese brew has a particular apparatus called the Phin. The phin is an inexpensive equipment, and it can be gotten in Australia. It is a stainless steel press that you place on your mug. It is a combination of press coffee and drips coffee.

You can grind the coffee beans in a medium-coarse setting, then add hot water. A cover is then placed on it to retain the heat and coffee will drop from the thick filters into your mug. 


To get an authentic cup of coffee, you can use Robusta beans since it brews strong and bitter coffee but if you can't deal with the taste, then buy dark roasted Arabica beans here, you’d get similar results.  


This is the secret ingredient in Vietnamese coffee. Yeah, we just gave in on a secret, winks. The milk is sweet, thick, and delicious. This tasty milk was developed to allow the milk to stay for longer periods in any climate without being refrigerated. 

TIP: As we mentioned earlier, you need to use a medium coarse grind. The phin has bigger holes when compared to the regular paper filters. You wouldn't want coffee grounds in your brew. This way, the grounds can't pass through the holes. The brew time has to be longer, so it can fully extract. The brewing time for the pin is about 3 to 5 minutes. 

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

Here is a way to enjoy Vietnamese coffee in a grand style.

What You’ll Need

  • 2 tablespoons of condensed milk
  • Dark roasted coffee beans (blends work perfectly)
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Ice cubes
  • Phin filter
  • 2 glasses


  1. Boil your water, then remove it from heat but don't pour it yet, allow it to sit for about 30 to 50 seconds. This will allow it to cool and be between 90 and 94 degrees Celsius (using boiling water will burn your grounds).
  2. Put the sweetened condensed milk inside a heatproof glass. The amount is up to you, your preference. If you like something sweeter, feel free to add more. You should have ground your coffee beans using a burr grinder.
  3. Add the ground coffee into the Phin. As we mentioned, the medium coarse grind is best, it is similar to what you use for French press brew. 
  4. Place the metal coffee filter on the Phin, then gently push it down and twist it. The kind of pressure you put is what affects the final brew. So take note of the kind of pressure you apply. 
  5. Place your phin inside the glass with condensed milk. Then fill the Phin with hot water. Fill it to the brim. After that, wait for about 3 to 6 minutes for the water to drip to your mug or glass.
  6. Then stir the drink with a spoon so that the sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the glass will dissolve. 
  7. Now put ice cubes into the second glass, then pour the coffee drink into it and that's it, your drink is ready.  
  8. As you can see, the brewing method is different and so is the serving style. It is served in a glass or mug. It can also be served with ice and most of the time with condensed milk. You can add some sugar if you want to.


We know that this recipe looks simple, but there are a few things that you can tweak to make your Vietnamese coffee that is extraordinary. Keep the following things in mind

  • From the recipe, you noticed we told you to allow the coffee to sit for a while, that is because we don't want the water to burn the grounds and give your coffee a bitter taste. Since you don't have a thermometer, don't bring your water to a boil, allow it to sit for some seconds. 
  • You might be wondering how much-condensed milk should I add to the coffee. The answer is that it is all up to you. Feel free to add more milk if you love sweeter coffee. Just don't add too much because that stuff is so sweet- it is sweetened condensed milk after all.
  • There is a proper way to prepare the phin, When you have added the coffee grounds into the metal filter, there will be a little judgment here, and it can get quite tricky. You don't need to apply too much pressure, but you also don't want to apply just a little pressure else the coffee will under-extract.
  • When preparing your coffee, take note that the traditional phin filter is tightened by screwing the top, but if your phin doesn't have a screw, then just press your filter down and twist it. If you are making the coffee for the first time, write down the grind size used and the pressure applied(for example, you pushed hard every three seconds and gave it a little twist).
  • If the coffee doesn't come outright, you can make adjustments next time. If you are not in the mood for iced coffee, you can always leave the ice and enjoy your drink just black. Note that the coffee won't be as hot as regular coffee or espresso. This is because of the lengthy brewing process, and the temperature of the sweetened condensed milk and coffee. The coffee is hot while the condensed milk is at room temperature, so the coffee won't turn out hot, just warm. With the ice, it's chilled, so it's all up to you to decide the variation you want.  


If you’ve tasted Vietnamese coffee, then you’d know that it was the right choice. We quickly realized that Vietnamese coffee was a good alternative to strong black coffee. 

When most people enjoy this tasty and very refreshing drink, they usually notice that they are mesmerized by the texture, taste, and sweetness of this unique coffee. Enjoy your brew!

This is our list of coffee brewing methods and other exciting recipes. Keep reading to learn more. 

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