The Traditional Phin Filter: History, Uses, Techniques, & More

Vietnamese coffee culture is vibrant — and it all revolves around the use of a simple device known as the phin filter. Here’s how it works.

The phin filter is essential for brewing an authentic cup of Vietnamese coffee. This small, stainless-steel coffee strainer fits over any cup to produce a strong, concentrated coffee — it’s the perfect starting point for making traditional Vietnamese coffee.

The phin filter is environmentally friendly, cheap, and exceptionally durable. A good phin filter will remain in service for a lifetime. This article is your guide to the phin filter, what sets it apart, and how to use it to make the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee.

Anatomy of a Phin Filter

The phin is comprised of four parts:

1.A lid to lock in warmth.
2.A gravity press to tamp down the ground coffee.
3.A brewingchamber to hold the water and ground beans.
4.A drip plate to filter the coffee into the glass or cup below.

How the Phin Filter Works

Ground coffee beans are placed in the chamber, and hot water is poured over them. After a few minutes, the coffee starts to drip into the cup below. It takes about five to seven minutes for the coffee to finish brewing (depending on the size of your filter).

The phin filter may appear simple and unassuming when compared with the moka pot or AeroPress, but therein lies its strength.

Here is what makes the phin filter so beloved:

●Non-reactive —The phin filter is made of stainless steel, which doesn’t react with the coffee being brewed. Aluminum or copper filters can easily discolor food and drink and give it a metallic taste.
●Portable —The phinis easy to pack, and the filter is small and easy to disassemble, so you can take it on journeys.
●Versatile — Despite its close connection with robusta beans, the phin filter works with any blend or type of coffee.
●Durable — There’s no glass to break or filter mesh to bend with a phin filter. All parts are resistant to the hard knocks that can come with regular use.
●Environmentally friendly —The phin filter can be reused and doesn’t use disposable components like filter paper. This is kinder to the environment and the wallet.
●Easy cleaning — The stainless steel of the filter is simple to clean and dishwasher safe. A simple rinse with warm, soapy water is enough to do the trick.

How to Use the Phin FilterUsing the phin is simple. Follow these 7 steps:

  • Place the drip lid over a glass or cup and put the brewing chamber on top.
  • Add two tablespoons of ground coffee to the brewing chamber. Shake the chamber to ensure equal distribution.
  • Place the filter press over the grinds.
  • Pour an ounce of water in and leave to bloom for a minute.
  • Fill the brewing chamber with the remaining water and cover it with a lid.
  • The water will filter through to the receptacle below. Allow four or five minutes for completion.
  • Your freshly brewed coffee is ready to enjoy.

Read the Full Guide: How to Brew Vietnamese Coffee With a Phin Filter.

Hot vs. Iced Vietnamese Coffee

There are two main ways to prepare Vietnamese coffee — hot (càphêsữanóng) and iced (càphêsữanóng).

Preparing the two follow the same initial steps — even with iced coffee, the brewing stage should be done using hot water. Once the brew is finished, pour the hot water over ice to cool it down.

You can also use the cold brew method to make Vietnamese coffee. This preparation takes about 24 hours to let the coffee diffuse into the cold water. The taste tends to be smoother than hot-brewed coffee, but it also lacks some of the boldness that Vietnamese coffee is known for.

Related: How to Brew Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

Tips for Making the Perfect Cup of Vietnamese Coffee

The multi-part phin filter may seem intimidating at first, but it truly is a simple process to master.

There are a few things to bear in mind before starting to ensure the perfect cup:

Use High-Quality Robusta Beans Dark-roasted robusta beans are the go-to for Vietnamese coffee, but quality is crucial. If the strength might be a little too much for you, try a robusta arabica blend, like our Da Nang coffee, or a peaberry robusta arabica combo, like our flagship Sai Gon OG blend.

Get the Grind Right — The coffee beans need to be the right grind. If they’re too coarse, the water will pass through the beans too fast, and the coffee will be weak and uninspiring. Too fine a grind (think espresso), and the water will struggle to filter through. The end result will be an over-extracted coffee that tastes bitter and unpleasant. Aim for a medium-fine grind that looks like sand.

Ideal Coffee-to-Water Ratio — While preference in coffee strength may differ, a good rule of thumb for the phin is a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio. For example, two tablespoons of our HaNoi coffee will require four ounces of boiling water.

Brewing Temperature — The water added should be just below boiling for best results. A good rule is between 195 and 200 degrees.

Let it Bloom — Before filling the brewing chamber completely, first pour an ounce of water over the grinds and leave it for a minute. This enhances the overall flavor and releases any carbon dioxide from the roasting process.

Patience — The water passing through the phin filter needs time to extract the flavor. It should take about four to five minutes for the coffee to brew and drip into your cup. Be patient, and don’t rush the process.

Frequently Asked Questions: The Phin Filter

Maybe you still have questions. We’ll answer some common ones next, so stick around.

1. Why is the phin filter considered environmentally friendly?

Phin filters have a built-in filter plate, so there’s no paper waste created even after thousands of brews. It’s also made from stainless steel which resists rusting and corrosion for decades. One filter should last a lifetime of use.

2. Can the phin filter be used with different types of coffee beans?

Yes, the phin works for all different kinds of coffee. It compliments the flavor profile of the robusta bean by showcasing its potential for strong, bold coffee — but this same characteristic works well for arabica as well. The resulting brew resembles that of espresso or the moka pot.

3. Where did the phin filter come from?

The phin was developed in Vietnam sometime in the 19th century. During the French colonization of Vietnam, colonists brought their love of coffee with them, which quickly permeated Vietnamese culture. The phin was created in response to a need for a brewing system that was cheap and easy to produce, but was able to craft the strong, robust coffee the Vietnamese cherished.

4. Can I use something other than a phin filter to make Vietnamese coffee?

You certainly can, but it won’t be quite the same. But desperate times call for desperate measures, so don’t worry if you’re without a phin filter. Any very strong cup of coffee will do. You only need about 2-4 ounces. Espresso or a moka pot works well, but just use less water and more coffee if you’re brewing with some other method.

5. How much caffeine is in Vietnamese coffee?

Vietnamese coffee contains a higher concentration of caffeine than conventional American or European-style brewing. This coffee uses the robusta bean, which contains 2X as much caffeine per bean than arabica. Additionally, the phin filter uses a long steeping process, which extracts more from the coffee than the short immersions of drip coffeemakers, moka, or French press.

However, Vietnamese coffee uses a lower volume of coffee, so the final coffee contains roughly the same amount of caffeine (66–130 mg total per cup).

Disclaimer: No Deccan Chronicle journalist was involved in the creation of this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.

( Source : Spotlight )
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