Your guide to Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam - Vietnamese coffee

Photocredit: iStockphoto

Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee. The landscape of mountains and unique microclimates enables it to grow a wide variety of coffee. This is a guide to Vietnamese coffee which is now well loved across the globe.

Coffee grows best in altitudes of 2500-4500 feet rather than in the plains. Coffee plantation was introduced into Vietnam by the French and Dutch colonists a couple of centuries ago. Today, Vietnam grows a variety of coffee species in the mountainous plateaus that the country is blessed with. The coffee grown here includes Arabica, Robusta, Liberica and other indigenous varieties.

Distinctive Vietnamese coffee

Vietnamese coffee

Photocredit: iStockphoto

The Vietnamese coffee is a distinctive coffee because of the longer roasting at lower temperatures that creates a mellow chocolaty flavour along with the use of a special filter (Phin). This creates a coffee that has lovely flavours and is also strong. Did you know that this type of coffee is something you’ll find in  this region of South East Asia that includes Laos, Cambodia and Thailand even if it is called something different?

The roasting of the coffee beans in Vietnam especially when it was traditionally done at home involved using a bit of sugar, oil and vanilla or cocoa to give it its special flavour. This created a caramel coat around the beans.

Phin filter

Phin filter

The Phin filter that is used to brew Vietnamese coffee is normally a single serve filter. It is placed over a cup or glass. Coarsely ground coffee like for a French press is put into the filter, tamped down slightly and 50-60ml of hot water (>93C < 97C) is added to the filter. A lid is then weighted down on the top of this filter.  

The coffee then drips into the cup below in about 2-3 minutes.

Condensed Milk

Condensed Milk

Photocredit:iStockphoto

Historically because the French didn’t have access to fresh milk, condensed milk was used for coffee in Vietnam. This tradition is continued in the Vietnamese coffee where a couple of spoons of condensed milk is placed in the cup before the Phin filter is put on top.

Ca Phe Sua

The condensed milk and the Phin filtered coffee create the characteristic Vietnamese coffee which is known as ca phe sua (milk coffee) or ca phe nau (brown coffee).

Ca Phe Sua Da or Ca Phe Da

Ca Phe Sua Da

Photocredit: iStockphoto

There is also an iced coffee version known as the Vietnamese iced coffee or Ca Phe Sua Da or Ca Phe Da. The same hot Vietnamese coffee is poured into a glass of ice cubes or shaved ice to create a delicious cold drink.


Dying to try a Vietnamese coffee at home? 

You’ll need the following

  • Phin filter
  • Condensed milk
  • Ideally Vietnamese ground coffee powder of a traditional Vietnamese bean blend

Clicking on the links below will take you to a shopping site.

Phin filter

Phin filter

Phin filter

Vietnamese Coffee (Ground)


You can find the easy steps to making a great cup of Ca Phe Sua in this article. Fancy an iced coffee? Then read this article on making a great cup of Ca Phe Sua Da.

Did you know that that the Phin filter has some similarities with the South Indian Kaapi?