Vietnamese Cowboy Coffee

Corey, this brew’s for you.

Before I start, for all of you coffee aficionados, this post is tongue-in-cheek. So take another sip and relax.

My stepson, Corey, gave me a Phin filter (Vietnamese coffee filter set) and some gourmet Vietnamese coffee for Christmas. I like coffee, but I’m no gourmet. I usually drink instant coffee in heated half milk – half water. I know. I can see you laughing and spitting your coffee all over your espresso cup and saucer.

Anyway, I love to experiment. So this was fun. I especially liked the fact that there were no paper filters to mess with, and when you were finished brewing you just rinsed everything in hot water and you were done. Quick. Easy. Neat.

Then it got interesting. I told you I like to experiment. I started thinking about how the old percolators worked. And then I thought about how the cowboys made coffee. Now there was simplicity. Dump the grounds into the pot, put it over the campfire, and wait until it was strong enough for your taste. Add in the fact that I like to heat water in a microwave – quickest, most efficient way – and you have a new “green,” quick, easy-clean-up way to make your brew.

I offer you the Vietnamese Cowboy Coffee method:


  • Phin filter
  • you favorite espresso grind gourmet coffee
  • Pyrex or glass measuring cup
  • 1 Tbsp measuring spoon
  • filtered water (or good old hard well water)
  • espresso cup


  1. Pour 6 ounces of water into measuring cup
  2. Measure 1 heaping Tbsp of coffee and dump into water
  3. Stir the grounds into water
  4. Heat coffee/water mix in microwave until it boils. Stop and stir. Reheat to boil and stir another one or two times.
  5. Immediately pour the stirred coffee/water mixture through the Phin filter. If it plugs or stops draining, swirl the filter.
  6. When your coffee has finished the filtration process, add sugar or sweetened condensed milk (traditional Vietnamese way) or your favorite sweetener.

Now lean back against your saddle and enjoy the campfire. And don’t forget to extend your little finger while you sip.