Synonymous with Vietnamese coffee culture, the phin filter is a slow drip method of brewing coffee which emphasizes the innate flavors of the coffee beans used. The brewing device is used in countless traditional Vietnamese coffee recipes—from the iconic ca phe sua da, Vietnamese iced coffee, to ca phe trung, egg coffee, to ca phe cot dua, coconut coffee—and has recently gained recognition in the West, popping up in kitchens and cafés throughout Europe and the United States.
However, not all phins are created equal. Some phins are made from stainless steel, while others are made with aluminum. Likewise, while some phins employ a strict gravity-brewing process, others use a twist method to better lock in the coffee grounds while brewing. Finally, phins range in the amount of pieces that each filter is made with—four being standard, while newer models are composed of three pieces.
When selecting which type of phin to buy, these distinctions are important to take into account, as the composition of a phin can affect the coffee drinking experience. Flavor, brewing time, and temperature are all brewing outcomes to take into consideration when buying a phin.
Traditional phin filters are made with either aluminum or stainless steel and come in four pieces—a brewing chamber, a perforated plate which sits on top of a cup, a perforated insert which goes inside of the phin’s chamber and presses down on the coffee grounds, and a cap to seal in the heat. The nature of a traditional phin filter’s perforated insert means that gravity is the sole force used to brew the coffee, which drips slowly through the phin into the cup below.
While traditional phin filters are a classic, some iterations leave more to be desired. Traditional phins made with aluminum generally have thinner chambers than their stainless steel counterparts, meaning that more heat is lost throughout the brewing process. Likewise, the sole use of gravity to press down on the coffee grounds leads to a more uneven brew, as some areas of the chamber may have higher concentrations of coffee than others, meaning that some coffee grounds may not be brewed to their full potential.
On the other hand, newer phin filters, like Omni Bev’s Phin Filter Coffee Maker, have expanded upon the traditional model to employ a more holistic approach to brewing Vietnamese coffee. Unlike traditional phin filters, Omni’s phin filter is entirely stainless steel, and is composed of three pieces: a brewing chamber which is attached to a drip tray, a lid to lock in the heat, and a twist-in filter plate.
The nature of Omni’s phin filter in using a twist-in filter plate, which involves screwing the plate into place on top of the coffee grounds rather than a traditional perforated insert which relies solely on gravity to hold the coffee grounds in place, means that pressure is applied more evenly to the coffee grounds, allowing for a smoother, more even brew. Likewise, the chamber of Omni’s phin filter is made using a thick stainless steel, allowing for greater heat retention and a stronger flavor profile to come through in every brew.
To taste the difference that the modern Phin filter makes in brewing Vietnamese coffee, try Omni Bev’s Ultimate Vietnamese Phin Coffee Experience. An homage to the filter which made Vietnamese coffee a long-standing tradition, this set includes everything you need to make Vietnamese coffee—a stainless steel modern Phin filter, a stainless steel coffee spoon, a limited edition coffee mug, a can of Longevity sweetened condensed milk, and an 8.8 oz. bag of Omni’s Signature Blend Vietnamese Roasted Coffee beans. Just add hot water, and you’ll soon be enjoying a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee, the traditional way.