This Vietnamese Coffee Is My New Go-To Morning Brew (and It Packs a Punch!)

published Sep 29, 2022
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Close-Up Of Steaming Coffee Cup On Table
Credit: Getty Images/ Ke Chen / EyeEm

If you know me, then you know I’m all about my morning cup of joe. As I’m writing this, fresh off my first mug of coffee in four days (not by choice — I was sick), I’m reminded why I love the stuff: Besides the eyeball-vibrating rush of caffeine that we all adore, a hot cup of the dark stuff just tastes… delicious. The roasty, toasty smell of the beans when you bloom them in water that’s just the right temperature is the first (and only) thing I want perfuming the air in the morning, bar none.

Now, I’ve tried all sorts of delicious coffee preparation methods in my (not-too-extensive) travels, but one I find myself coming back to time and time again — especially when I want to shake up my routine — is the Vietnamese phin filter. If you’re not familiar, that’s okay: Essentially, it’s sort of like drip coffee meets pour-over meets espresso. You fill the phin with ground coffee, pour a little bit of near-boiling water to bloom the grounds, wait 30 seconds, pop the filter and lid on, and voila! Just kick back and admire the delicious, slow extraction as your cup or glass fills with delicious java. Vietnam has a rich coffee tradition (in fact, they’re the second largest producer of coffee in the world behind Brazil), and the best way to enjoy phin coffee is by using Vietnamese robusta beans — specifically, this bag of Da Lat from Nam Coffee

I love my phin, but I really get excited when robusta beans enter the equation — like, “making cartoon ‘AWOOGA’ eyes” excited. Robusta beans like the ones in this bag from Nam Coffee usually have a higher caffeine content and a bolder flavor than the more common arabica variety, despite being unfairly railroaded by Big Coffee and larger players in the industry as “beans of lower quality.” However, Nam Coffee, an immigrant-founded and -led company that launched earlier this year, is here to set the record straight with their exceptional robusta beans and blends.

This stuff isn’t the “Vietnamese coffee” that you might have gotten at a shop where they just take their regular house blend made somewhere outside Vietnam, throw in some condensed milk, slap “Vietnamese” on the chalkboard, and call it a day. That low-effort drink might taste okay, but if you’re looking to support real Vietnamese coffee producers and farmers, look no further than Nam Coffee. All of the brand’s arabica and robusta beans (and we mean all of them) come from a third-generation family farm on Langbiang mountain in Da Lat, which is a highland region in Vietnam famous for its scenic views and uniquely fertile soil. 

Credit: Ian Burke

While I don’t use my phin every single day, I love slowing down my mornings — especially on the weekends — and making a strong cup of the Da Lat variety, particularly when I want to be productive, since this stuff packs a punch. (If you’re a fan of high-test coffee that also has complex notes of dark chocolate, fresh tobacco, and caramel, this is the way, friends.) Plus, the phin requires no filters, pods, or pouches, which makes it a sustainable choice for morning coffee prep, and it’s so small that it takes up virtually no space in my cabinet. 

If you’re looking for a blend that’s a little more mellow, the brand also has Orange County, which is a 30/70 ratio of robusta and arabica beans — perfect for anyone looking for potent (yet still exceptionally smooth) coffee. And, though certainly assertive and robust, this blend is still incredibly guzzle-able, with soft notes of lemon peel and dark chocolate. 

So, if you’re in the mood for a strong, delicious cup of coffee made in a unique, traditional way, snag a bag and a phin ASAP, and thank me later. 

Buy: Da Lat Coffee, $16.95; Phin Filter, $12.95