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Updated: May 15, 2023


Vietnam nel drip coffee, also known by other names such as "cà phê kho," is a traditional brewing method that is characteristic of the Chinese community living in Saigon during the 20th century. It represents the blending of two cultural backgrounds.

In the 1950s, while coffee brewed with a "phin" filter was considered a drink exclusive to the middle class, Vietnam nel drip coffee became a favorite among the working-class people. The laborers would enjoy a cup of Vietnam nel drip coffee in the morning as a way to indulge in comfort and relaxation before embarking on their arduous daily lives.

Coffee has always been an indispensable part of Saigon people's life. Source: Internet

The name Vietnam nel drip coffee originates from the brewing method used for this type of coffee. The filters used are made of thick cloth filters. Typically, people use a single thick cloth filter or layer two cloth filter together to brew the coffee. The coffee is brewed and filtered twice using large clay pots. As a result, Vietnam nel drip coffee has a strong coffee aroma, bold flavor, sweetness, and is accompanied by a pleasant richness and smoky undertones.

Source: Internet

Currently, although the third wave of coffee appears, in a way, Vietnam nel drip coffee still has a very special place in the hearts of Saigon people. Until now, the traditional nel drip cafes are still crowded with customers. Somewhere in the small alleys in the heart of bustling Saigon, we can still see a lot of people wandering around, looking for that simple nostalgia.



Vietnam nel drip coffee has been around for a long time, with numerous Vietnam nel drip coffee shops existing for over half a century. Therefore, the type of coffee used still retains a traditional influence. This means that the coffee is roasted quite dark and then seasoned with ingredients such as butter, salt, alcohol, etc., to enhance its flavor.

To prepare an authentic cup of Vietnam nel drip coffee, the café owner first boils the cloth filter in water, then boils water in a clay pot, and keeps it boiling throughout the brewing process. Next, the cloth filter is placed inside the clay pot and evenly spread in the water. The coffee grounds are added to the cloth filter in the appropriate amount, and the person brewing the coffee stirs continuously and presses the coffee into the center of the cloth filter using a bamboo stick. Then the lid of the pot is closed, and after about 5 to 10 minutes, the preparation is complete. The remaining step is simply pouring the coffee and enjoying it.

Vietnam nel drip coffee is actually very easy to drink and suitable for various types of customers. The people who enjoy this traditional drink are becoming more diverse across generations. The majority of customers who prefer Vietnam nel drip coffee can be divided into two main groups:

  1. Habitual drinkers: Vietnam nel drip coffee has become a part of their daily life. Typically, these are older people who consider Vietnam nel drip coffee as their daily routine, a way to start a new day with freshness and enthusiasm.

  2. Experiential drinkers: Due to the cultural value associated with Vietnam nel drip coffee, many young customers, especially those born in the late 1980s and onwards, are interested in experiencing it. Particularly in today's fast-paced and hectic lifestyle, taking a moment to slow down and enjoy the tranquil morning atmosphere or the intense aroma of coffee holds great value for young people who do not want to miss out on these precious moments.

Young people also look for Vietnam nel drip coffee, as a way to experience precious traditional cultural values. Source: Internet.



Along with the development of the coffee world, especially the 3rd wave of coffee, Vietnam nel drip coffee also has a successor. That tool is called: Nel Drip.

Nel drip coffee tool. Source: Blue Bottle

This type of brewing device is a harmonious combination of the V60 and Vietnam nel drip coffee, encompassing a classic design and material. This brewing device encapsulates the essence of a manual V60 brewer while maintaining its unique personality with the cloth filter.

Coffee brewed with the Nel drip device emits a delicate and aromatic flavor, contrasting with the traditional brewing method. Additionally, the use of the cloth filter allows the coffee's essential oils to pass through, enhancing the light and intriguing richness of the coffee. It can be said that with this combination, the Nel drip device is particularly suitable for Specialty Coffee.

Nel drip small drip coffee is often served in a transparent vessel, allowing the brewing process to be observed. The slow dripping of coffee through the cloth filter creates a visually appealing experience, adding an aesthetic dimension to it. This makes it an attractive choice for coffee shops and enthusiasts who appreciate the artistry of coffee brewing.



Despite the introduction of various brewing methods and new types of coffee into Vietnam over the past decades, Vietnam nel drip coffee still holds a special place in the memories of Saigon residents, both in the past and present. The enduring presence of Vietnam nel drip coffee shops for decades is the clearest evidence of this.

The uniqueness of nel drip coffee in Vietnam lies not only in its taste but also in the cultural significance it represents. This brewing method has been passed down from one generation to another, and this tradition continues to be practiced to this day.

Although it may no longer be at its peak, the image of a coffee which cloth filter placed in steaming hot clay pots, amidst thick smoke, accompanied by lively conversations, will always remain a beautiful image in the minds of Saigonese people, or the people of Vietnam.

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