How To Use a Phin: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Authentic Vietnamese Coffee

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At its most basic level, the phin is a metal filter used to brew coffee. This filter has been described as a combination between a French press and pour-over, but this description isn’t super accurate.

The phin is primarily used to brew Robusta coffee beans from Vietnamese to make Vietnamese coffee.

This filter has a variety of benefits, some of which include the following:

  • It is much smaller than a coffee machine.
  • You can make a single cup at a time.
  • It comes in different sizes for bigger batches.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • It is more sustainable and produces no waste.
  • It is the only way to make Vietnamese coffee.
  • The slow brewing process produces a strong, highly caffeinated brew.

What is a phin filter?

The Phin has four separate metal parts:

  • The filter plate is a flat metal plate that sits atop your glass. It is perforated to filter out the grounds.
  • The brew chamber looks like a cup with holes at the bottom. It fits into the filter plate and is where the brewing takes place.
  • The gravity press filter is a small perforated disc with a tiny handle. It is placed in the brew chamber after the coffee grounds have been poured in.
  • The lid is a simple cover that traps heat within the brew chamber.
Thang Long Vietnamese Coffee Filter Phin 11 Ounce (Large), Gravity Insert, One Cup
  • This Vietnamese Coffee Filter is made in Vietnam out of HIGH QUALITY stainless steel
  • The Cafe Phin is larger than most Vietnam filters. Enjoy with ground coffee such as by Trung Nguyen
  • The GRAVITY INSERT on this Vietnamese Coffee Filter is easier than the screw down type

The brewing process

To brew a cup of coffee with your phin:

  1. Grab a drinking glass and place your filter plate on top of it.
  2. Place the brew chamber directly on top of the filter plate.
  3. Measure two tablespoons of coffee and pour it into the brew chamber.
  4. Shake the brew chamber gently to level out the grounds.
  5. Place the gravity press on top of the coffee grounds.
  6. Pour one ounce of hot water over the gravity press.
  7. The phin will begin to drip thick dark coffee into your glass.
  8. This process should take at most six minutes.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is it used for?

The phin filter is almost exclusively used to make Vietnamese coffee, which is traditionally served iced and with sweetened condensed milk to balance out its bitterness. Moreover, in most cases, the phin brews a single serving for one groggy person.

What type of beans do I use with a phin filter?

Although you may use Arabica or other types of beans with a phin filter, this wouldn’t necessarily enhance your experience. For instance, you wouldn’t brew loose-leaf tea in a standard coffee machine even though it will steep the leaves.

The phin is designed to brew coarse Robusta grounds. Compared to Arabica beans, Robusta coffee has twice the amount of caffeine. The slow rate at which the hot water moves through the metal phin, combined with the use of Robusta beans, is what gives Vietnamese coffee the legendary energy boost it is known for.

What grind size should I choose?

Many recommend going with a grind setting between 14 and 16. Shoot for a medium coarse grind, slightly similar to the setting you would use for a French press. If these recommended settings aren’t working for you, try grinding your beans a bit coarser or finer.

Grind your Robusta too fine, and the water won’t flow as it should. If your grind is too coarse, the water will rush through your ground too quickly, resulting in under-extraction. Under Extraction happens when all of the flavor and oils aren’t pulled out of the coffee beans entirely.

What is an ideal coffee-to-water ratio?

A traditional coffee-to-water ratio when utilizing the phin filter is anywhere from 1:2 to 1:4. When you consider that a standard coffee-to-water ratio for a French press is 1:12, you realize how much darker, stronger, and thicker coffee made from a phin really is.

But if you’re using a single-serve phin and don’t want to do the math work, you can follow this easy recipe: Use two tablespoons (14 grams) of ground Robusta and four ounces of hot water. If your brew seems a little too strong, then add a little more water. The phin performs best with a brewing temperature of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Final Notes

If you are looking for a portable/stow-able, easy-to-use, highly caffeinated brew-producing piece of equipment, get a phin for yourself and experience the ease and the buzz. You can effortlessly find an affordable phin filter online for under $20. Happy brewing!

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