The Vietnamese Phin: a coffee-brewing tradition
Have you heard of the coffee phin, which is the traditional way of brewing coffee in Vietnam? This special device makes great-tasting coffee. This method of brewing coffee using a press filter (phin) appeared in Vietnam about two centuries ago. The Vietnamese really love to drink coffee made with a phin and they are very popular devices today.
What is a phin and why is it so popular?
A coffee phin is a special piece of tableware used for brewing coffee. It is similar to a little cup with a cap. At the bottom it has little holes and through these holes coffee drips.
Here’s how it works: the coffee phin is placed on top of a cup and freshly ground coffee is poured into it. Boiling water is then poured into the phin. The coffee slowly drips through the phin into the cup below. Brewing coffee in this way is a special ritual: this way of brewing is really important to the Vietnamese, just like tea ceremonies.
Why do Vietnamese people use a phin?
Coffee culture came to Vietnam with French colonisers in the nineteenth century, so the Vietnamese adopted the French way of dark roasting coffee beans. Vietnam is the country of the robusta bean, with many different types of robusta growing here. The special qualities of robusta are its high levels of caffeine and its bitterness.
Brewing coffee using a phin creates a different taste. Because of the structure of form of this press-filter technique, it makes a strong and bitter drink. To create a softer tasting coffee, the Vietnamese add ice and condensed milk to the drink. Sweet toppings make the coffee flavour creamier and add vanilla notes. The coffee’s natural bitterness complements the sweetness; it is a perfect harmonic combination of flavours.
For a single serving (4 ounces), follow these guidelines:
- Add 2 tablespoons of ground coffee;
- Place the filter press on top of the coffee;
- Heat water to 195-200 °F (90-93 °C);
- Allow to brew for 30 seconds;
- Fill water to the top of the phin (a total of 4 ounces).
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