Much like seasoning a cast iron pan or an espresso machine, a phin filter needs to be dialed in so that it can be used optimally. A phin filter is very low maintenance, and once you get a sense of how yours brews coffee, the process will become a quick and easy 5 minute brew to jumpstart every morning.
First things first, take note of the grind size of your coffee. Is it too large or too small? If it's too fine, the water won't flow through. If it's too coarse, the water will flow too fast without time for proper extraction. There isn’t paper to catch them, so you need to make sure that you’ve got the correct grind size to beginwith. Luckily, we’ve got your back with that too.
OUR SUCCESS METRICS:
The critical part of the dialing in process is gauging how your phin filter drips. When working with a solo serving size (4 oz phin) and grinding your own coffee, aim for these metrics:
1) The first drip of coffee should take place by the two minute mark
2) The last drip should be around the five minute mark
Any faster means your grinds may be too coarse, yielding weaker coffee, and any slower means they’re too fine -- the water may not be able to flow through, or become burnt with over extraction.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT DOESN'T DRIP?
Once hot water is poured into the phin filter chamber, suction is created with the pressure of gravity pulling things down and the degassing of fresh beans pushing things upward. Even with optimal grind size and timing, sometimes you may find that the brew takes too long to drip. If that’s the case, there’s no need to panic– that’s just fresh coffee degassing and the filter pushing things down to create pressure for extraction. If anything, that’s a sign that your coffee is still super fresh!
TIP: When this occurs, you can take a small tool (chopstick, end of a fork, etc.) to lift the filter press to release gas and recalibrate the brew chamber. Once you release the filter press to gently fall on its own, the coffee should brew normally.
Dialing in is very much an ongoing process to achieving the best brewed Vietnamese coffee. In the same way that you have to continuously dial in an espresso machine (ie. grind size, pressure, temperature), you have to dial in your phin filter from time to time. Every phin filter is different and conditions will always vary based on preparation, but with reasonable adjustments, you can have fresh, delicious, and quickly brewed Vietnamese coffee every day.
Watch a quick 60 second phin tutorial below:
Shop our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit here.
Learn how to brew Vietnamese coffee using a phin filter here.