Tips on Brewing Vietnamese Coffee
Trung Nguyen is the premier producer of Vietnam's finest locally owned and
processed coffees grown in the ideal conditions of the Vietnamese highlands.
TN coffees are fairly traded, certified EUREPGAP (safe & sustainable agriculture) coffees brought to market directly by the producers.
The Trung Nguyen coffees are typically "strong" for the amount used, which yields good economy, especially since they are reasonably priced to begin with! They are "medium" roast and a relatively coarse grind. They provide a full range of aromatics and flavor from superior cultivation and hand-processing methods, without having to dark-roast or burn the beans, as is popular these days with lesser coffees.
Beat the heat with our special page on brewing iced coffee!
Amount to brew: When in doubt, follow the "1 tablespoon to one cup (6-8 ounces)" rule. All of the coffees will produce fine flavors if brewed this way. The grind is fairly coarse, and the best brewing time is about 6 minutes in a machine or about 4 minutes in a manual drip brewer, French Press or other soak process.
Type of machine/filter: Vietnamese coffees are a medium-coarse grind. You won't get typical flavor or best results in many flat-basket brewers. The first feature to look for in a coffee maker is a v-shaped filter (similar to Melitta #2 or #4). There are several machines available for anywhere from $25 - $50 that do a great job and have a v-shaped filter. Black and Decker has one with an insulated 8-cup carafe and v-shaped filter, often on sale for under $30. It makes great coffee and the temperature is perfect. If you can go a little more upscale, Krups also makes excellent v-filter machines for under $100.
The Vietnamese coffee shops brew one cup at a time in small filters (called the Phin) devices that sit on top of the cup. The advantage of this method is that the coffee steeps in the grounds for the proper length of time despite the small volume. See instructions below. The French Press is also a great way to brew these coffees, since the grind is also perfect for the Press.
Coffee "keeping" time and methods: The coffee we import from TN is roasted when ordered and comes directly from the producer to us and is sold immediately on the website. The coffee is not vacuum-sealed (except for the New Legendee), because TN uses a warm-seal method that closes the bags on the coffee when they are freshly roasted and still outgassing. The one-way valves allow the CO2 to continue to escape but not allow oxygen to come in. In handling, the bags become flat. If the valve stops working, you can see the bag expand like a balloon! We call them puffers. It happens about once in 400 bags. That is how you know the other valves are doing their job...
There are two things to remember for fresh coffee:
- Oxygen deteriorates flavor within hours or days. Keep the bags sealed tightly with an elastic band, or in containers that don't have much extra air.
- Extreme cold will slow flavor loss, but home freezers do NOT reach a low enough temperature to make a difference, so there is no reason to keep coffee in the fridge or freezer.
Brewing Vietnamese coffee with a single-cup filter (Phin)
(Quick version... for more detail click here)
The kit includes the filter chamber, filter press, cup spanner, and cap. Some people prefer a glass mug or cup because they can watch the progress of the brewing.
This method takes about 4-6 minutes from start to finish, if you have the right amount of coffee and the right grind. If it drips too fast, add more coffee or make the grind finer. If it brews too slow, make the grind coarser or use less coffee.
Typically you should use a rounded tablespoon of coffee to start, and then adjust from there if the time is not right.
We recommend pre-heating the cup with a little hot water, because a lot of heat is lost in the small filter, and it is good to keep the coffee heat from going into heating the cup.
Put the coffee in the empty chamber of the filter. Tap the chamber a little to settle it so it will drain evenly. Put the chamber and the wide saucer spanner section over the cup you will be brewing into.
Put the insert inside on top of the coffee as shown, spin the insert once or twice to even out the coffee. then pour in a little water (a couple of tablespoons) to moisten and swell the coffee.
Wait about 20 seconds, then fill the chamber with hot water. The best temperature is 185° to 195°.
Place the lid on top and wait about 3 minutes for the water to drip through the grinds. Lift the lid to check on progress.
The best flavor is achieved in about 4 minutes. Water that drips through after that time may not be adding a lot of flavor to the coffee, so that is why it is best to adjust the amount of coffee to make it about a 4-minute brew.
When the chamber is empty, lift the filter assembly off the cup and turn the lid upside down, then place the filter assembly on it. The remaining drips of water will collect in the lid and keep your table clean.