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How to Make Vietnamese Coffee
The Origins of The Brew
Before you learn how to make Vietnamese coffee, perhaps you should gain an understanding of just how important coffee is to Vietnam. For instance, did you know that Vietnam is the second biggest coffee bean producer after Brazil? Who would have guessed? This is because the climate and altitude of Vietnam's upper slopes provides a perfect place to grow all manner of coffee beans, from Arabica to Robusta. In the late 19th century French introduced coffee to the region, and the trade has boomed ever since. This brew is quite strong, like coffee made in a French press, but is sweetened with condensed milk for a decadent treat. Once you enjoy Vietnamese coffee, you may never go back!
What You Need
To make Vietnamese coffee you need water, a heat source, a phin (which is the little hat like contraption you see in the above photo), a glass coffee mug, and coffee with chicory. The last is up to debate, as some people like their brew with straight coffee, but traditionally Vietnamese coffee is made with chicory, which is a caffeine-free herb used to flavor the coffee. Some folks don't like it however and stick with straight coffee.
Step 1-Prep Your Coffee Mug
Start with your glass coffee mug, and pour about a third of an inch of condensed milk in it. It is thick, creamy, sweet, and the heart and soul of your cup of Vietnamese coffee. Remember, it's condensed milk, not evaporated. It may seem like a small difference, but the two are very different creatures.
Step 2- Prep your Phin
Get your phin ready by taking the top off and unscrewing the top filter. Then dump three teaspoons of coarse ground coffee and chicory (a French grind should do it). Replace the top filter and tighten the screw so that the top filter is snug against the coffee grounds. Don't get too enthusiastic and make the filter tight, just aim for nice and snug.
Step 3-Brew and Enjoy!
Set your phin on top of your glass coffee cup. Slowly pour hot water into the phin, until it is about 1/4 full. It should take twenty seconds or more for the hot water to filter through. If it takes less time you need to tighten the screw on your filter. Once you have your filter squared away fill the phin with hot water and place the cover on top. Let the coffee brew in peace, this should take about five mintues. The liquid should drip of of the phin, not stream.
Once the coffee has stopped dripping carefully remove the phin and set it aside. You can then either stir the condensed milk into the coffee or leave it for a sweet finish. Vietnamese coffee is also great iced, enjoy!