Vietnamese coffee and Moka pot are known for their strong flavor and high caffeine content. Does that make them the same, though? What makes each one better? Let’s look into it.
What is a Phin Filter?
The phin filter was invented in the mid-19th century. Back then, coffee began to spread around Vietnam, and it was a long way from being the second largest coffee bean producer it is today.
The filter is made of stainless steel or aluminum, similar to a stovetop espresso maker. The most significant difference is that it doesn't go on top of the stove, but you simply put the filter on your coffee cup, add the coffee grounds and hot water and wait. This is why the phin filter resembles an AeroPress or the pour over method often called a Vietnamese coffee press.
The phin filter is made of four main parts:
Filter plate: This is the part that goes on top of the cup or the carafe where you want your coffee to go.
Brewing chamber: Similarly to the Moka pot, the phin filter has a brew chamber. Unlike the Moka pot, you'll want to put both the ground coffee and the water there.
Gravity press: This part does the same thing as the piston in the AeroPress but is significantly slower. You should put the gravity press on top when you have your brew chamber filled with ground coffee and water. It will push down on the grounds and extract your cup of coffee.
Cap: The cap goes on top of the brew chamber. You can later use it as a coaster when you're done brewing.
The key advantages of a phin filter are that it's small and eco-friendly. That's why it's many coffee lovers' preferred choice of traveling coffee maker.
Another plus for the phin filter is that it can give you a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee.
Additionally, the coffee you'll get is bold and strong, giving you the energy you need in the morning.
What Should You Know About a Phin Filter?
As previously mentioned, the brewing process is similar to pour over and AeroPress coffee. This means it's significantly slower than brewing coffee in a Moka pot or most coffee machines, but it still gives you fantastic results.
As the phin filter generates almost no pressure, you'll want to use a medium to coarse grind as you would for a French press. This is because the water you're pouring into the coffee will stay in contact with the grinds longer than most other brew methods.
Unlike an espresso machine and a Moka pot, where you'd need to use finely ground beans, If you use them for phin filter coffee, your brew will be over-extracted. This is because the pressure is much lower, so the water stays in contact with the coffee much longer.
Brewing a cup of strong coffee in a Vietnamese coffee press is one of the easiest ways to make coffee out there manually. It only takes 5 steps that go:
- Grind your coffee beans. You can also buy pre-ground coffee, but it's always best to grind your beans not long before you make your coffee.
- Boil some water. You'll want to adapt the amount of water you're heating up depending on the size of your phin filter. The most widely spread filters are made for 4 oz.
- Load the coffee into your Phin filter. You'll want to ensure the grounds are even out at the top so they can have good contact with the gravity press and achieve an even extraction during the brewing.
- Put the gravity press on top of the coffee and pour the water. This is when your coffee will start dripping into the cup or carafe that you're using.
- Once the water has gone through the coffee grounds, you can press down on the grounds to extract what's left. It should take around 4-5 minutes for your coffee to be done brewing.
Even though brewing takes as long as other coffee-making methods, the entire process takes a little longer. If you're grinding your own coffee and heating water in a regular kettle, you should have your coffee in around 10 minutes. Nevertheless, that extra time is worth it, as you're left with a strong and aromatic cup of coffee in the end.
The flavor is one of the key factors that you'll want to consider when choosing your brew method. The good news here is that both the Moka pot and the phin filter offer a strong and bold taste. Depending on the beans you choose, there may be some differences in the flavors, but generally speaking, you'll get a solid kick out of both.
A subtle difference that some coffee snobs may notice is that the flavor of the phin coffee isn't as "wide" as the Moka coffee. Because of the higher pressure in the stovetop espresso maker, it may come out a little sour. Additionally, Moka coffee is usually thicker and more full-bodied.
What Should You Know About a Moka Pot?
The Moka pot is one of the most widely spread brewing methods out there, and for a good reason. It can make multiple cups of coffee, and it's absolutely delicious.
Like with the phin filter, it's best to grind your coffee for a Moka pot brew. However, unlike the phin filter, you'll want a finer grind. The Moka pot generates around 2 bars of pressure while brewing, so the water will be in contact with the grinds for a very short time. This is why the best grind size is fine to medium.
If you don't have your own grinder and aren't willing to invest in one, you can buy pre-ground coffee from your local coffee shop. Just make sure that it was ground recently to get the best taste.
The brewing process here is straightforward and will only take 4-5 minutes. Here's how it goes:
- Put a wet towel in the freezer. You'll need it later to stop the extraction.
- Grind your coffee if you're buying it whole bean.
- Heat some water. It's best to start with hot water, as this will shorten the brewing process and lower the chances of burning your coffee.
- Load the ground coffee and the water into the Moka pot and put it on the stove. Make sure everything is closed correctly and that you have a tight seal between the two chambers.
- Wait for the gurgling sound. Once you hear it coming out of the stovetop espresso maker, your coffee is made.
- Cover your Moka pot with the towel from the freezer. This will immediately cool down your coffee pot and stop the extraction.
The Moka pot coffee has an intense and aromatic flavor. While it's not as strong as espresso, it'll still give you enough energy to get on with your day.
A key difference to espresso is that you're not going to get nearly as much crema. Depending on your Moka pot's model and your coffee's freshness, you might still get some.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can an Espresso Machine Brew Vietnamese Coffee?
No, you shouldn't use pre-ground Vietnamese coffee in an espresso machine. As previously mentioned, Vietnamese coffee is coarsely ground, and you need a much finer one for espresso.
If you insist on using Vietnamese coffee for espresso, you can, but you'll have to grind it more finely. This will give you an even strong cup of coffee than usual with a more intense flavor.
Can You Prepare a Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Milk Using Espresso?
There's something of a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of Vietnamese coffee. While it's simply coffee made with beans grown in Vietnam, in popular culture, it's considered strong coffee with condensed milk.
This misconception comes from the fact that in the mid-19th century, in periods of extreme poverty in Vietnam, there wasn't enough milk. This is why people had to start making condensed milk so it would last longer.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and some people aren't sure what Vietnamese coffee is. If you want to use Vietnamese beans and mix the brew with condensed milk, you can, but that won't make it real Vietnamese coffee.
For a proper one, you'll want to use the phin filter. It's the only way to have proper Vietnamese coffee.
No matter if you’re a hardened coffee enthusiast or a complete newbie to the world of coffee-making, a Moka pot is significantly easier to use. All you’ll need to do is put it on the stove and wait for a few minutes. Get your high-quality stainless steel Moka pot today.