Phin Coffee Ratio: Recipe For Delicious Vietnamese Coffee

Wondering how you can brew that delicious thick Vietnamese coffee you know and love at home? Here’s what you need to know. 

To make Vietnamese coffee in a Phin use a 1:4 to 1:4.5 ratio. To brew a standard 2 oz/60 ml serving, add 25 grams/3.5 heaping tablespoons of medium-fine ground coffee to the filter and pour 110 ml of water on top. This brews a very strong, thick coffee that mixes well with condensed milk and ice.

How do you figure out how much ground coffee you need for a Phin and how to brew great Vietnamese coffee step by step, keep reading below. 

Phin Coffee Ratio

The best ratio for a Phin is 1:4 to 1:4,5 in my experience. Up to 1:6 can work and taste good but the coffee will be a little thinner and weaker. The thickness is one of the key features most people like about Vietnamese coffee. 

Need a Phin? They’re cheap, like this one on Amazon.

This might seem like a large amount of coffee for a gravity drip method but it is what gives Vietnamese coffee its distinct taste and texture. It’s supposed to be strong and thick. To get thick coffee, you need a lot of soluble material from the grounds in the water. Just like with espresso, the first liquid is the thickest after which it gradually thins out. The low ratio means you get a lot of soluble material in the coffee. 

The large amount of coffee creates a thick coffee bed which creates more resistance for the water to flow through. This increases contact time which gives more time for the grounds to give up their coffee goodness. 

The low ratio is also a way to limit extraction which reduces bitterness. You might think that will make it sour but since Vietnamese coffee is usually brewed with Robusta, there isn’t that much acidity in the beans so you won’t get much sourness by under-extracting a little. 

Suggested: How much caffeine does Vietnamese coffee have?

However, it’s still a good idea to grind relatively finely and use dark roasted beans to help extraction. A medium-fine grind tends to work best. It should be fine enough that the brew time is at least 3 minutes but up to 6 minutes is OK. At the same time, it should be coarse enough that the grinds don’t clog the holes in the filter or get through. 

A Phin is a metal filter without any paper so it’s hard to avoid getting any grounds in the cup but with a good grinder and setting it should be minimal. 

How Much Ground Coffee To Put In a Phin

For a standard 2 oz. serving of Vietnamese coffee, add 25 grams or 3.5 heaping tablespoons of ground coffee to the Phin.

That might not seem like it matches the ratio mentioned above but you have to take into account that ground coffee soaks up a lot of water and retains it. 1 gram of coffee can retain about 2 grams of water. So the 25 grams of ground coffee in a Phin holds on to about 50 grams of water. Thus, to get 2 oz/60 ml in your cup, you need 110 ml of water. With 25 grams of grounds on 110 ml of water, you get a 1:4.4 ratio which is exactly in the correct range. 

Why use a 1:4.4 ratio here? Simple, 25 grams/3.5 tablespoons is easy to remember. Feel free to experiment with different ratios and amounts but you’ll need a coffee scale to do so because the difference between 1:4 and 1:4.5 is just 3 grams.

Most single-cup Phins have a 4-5 oz. (118-147 ml) capacity if you would fill them all the way. There are bigger ones but those are for brewing bigger batches, not for single servings. With the ratio above it should be pretty easy to figure out how much coffee you need for your size, just divide the amount of milliliters by the right side of the ratio. E.g. for a 1:4 ratio for a 200 ml Phin you need: 200/4 = 50 grams of grounds. 

Need some good Vietnamese coffee? This Trung Nguyen blend (Amazon) is the standard in Vietnamese coffee. Yes, this is the same you can buy in every Vietnamese supermarket.

How To Make Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese coffee is usually served in very small quantities. A final yield of about 2 oz. Is normal. Here’s how you get there:

  • Boil water
  • Pour boiling water into an empty Phin to preheat it.
  • Pour 25 grams of medium-fine grounds into the Phin
  • Shake the filter to create a flat bed of coffee
  • Place the filter screen on top of the grounds and lightly press down
  • Put the Phin on a cup
  • Pour about 40 ml of water on the grounds. 
  • Wait 30-45 seconds for the grounds to soak up the water and swell up. 
  • Pour 70 ml of water
  • Put the lid on the filter to keep the water hot
  • Wait 5-6 minutes. 

Coffee should start dripping after about 1 minute. If it doesn’t lift the lid. Sometimes a vacuum forms which prevents coffee from flowing. If that doesn’t help, lift the whole filter up a little and rub the bottom of the filter with the back of a spoon. This can break the surface tension that sometimes stops the flow. 

If none of those solutions work, it’s possible the grind size is too fine and is clogging the holes in the filter. Try a slightly coarser grind. 

The brew time you’re aiming for is about 5-6 minutes. If it’s significantly shorter than that, try a finer grind setting. 

Vietnamese Iced Coffee With Milk ‘Ca Phe Sua Da’ Recipe

Many people really like this style of coffee. It’s sweet, creamy, and has coffee, what’s not to like? Vietnamese coffee is very strong so the dairy balances out the taste really nicely and creates an almost coffee milkshake-like drink. 

Here’s how you can make it, it’s easy;

  • Take a long drink glass
  • Pour 2 oz/60ml of condensed milk into the glass. 
  • Brew 2 oz/60 ml of Vietnamese coffee in the same glass (see recipe above)
  • Once finished brewing, fill the glass with ice
  • Stir
  • Drink with a straw for the best experience.

You can also add the condensed milk later on, for the taste it doesn’t matter. However, the coffee dripping and staying on top of the condensed milk while brewing looks nice. 

Equal amounts of condensed milk and coffee create a nice balance but it’s personal taste. More or less condensed milk is perfectly fine. 


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

Recent Posts