Vietnamese Iced Coffee

· Ca phe sua da (Vietnamese style iced coffee)
· 2 to 4 tablespoons finely ground dark roast coffee
· 2 to 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk!)
· Boiling water
· Vietnamese coffee press [see notes]
· Ice cubes

Place ground coffee in Vietnamese coffee press and screw lid down on the grounds. Put the sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of a coffee cup and set the coffee maker on the rim. Pour near boiling water over the screw lid of the press; adjust the tension on the screw lid just till bubbles appear through the water, and the coffee drips slowly out the bottom of the press.

When all water has dripped through, stir the milk and coffee together. You can drink it like this, just warm, as ca phe sua nong, or over ice, as ca phe sua da. To serve it that way, pour the milk-coffee mixture over ice, stir, and drink as slowly as you can manage.

A Vietnamese coffee press looks like a stainless steel top hat. There’s a “brim” that rests on the coffee cup; in the middle of that is a cylinder with tiny perforations in the bottom. Above that rises a threaded rod, to which you screw the top of the press, which is a disc with similar tiny perforations. Water trickles through these, extracts flavor from the coffee, and then trickles through the bottom perforations. It is excruciatingly slow. Loosening the top disc speeds the process, but also weakens the resulting coffee and adds sediment to the brew.

If you can’t find a Vietnamese coffee press, regular-strength espresso is an adequate substitute, particularly if made with French-roast beans or with a dark coffee.

Vietnamese coffee should taste more or less like melted Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, while Thai iced coffee has a more fragrant and lighter flavor from the cardamom and half-and-half rather than the condensed milk. Both are exquisite, and not difficult to make once you’ve got the equipment.

0 thoughts on “Vietnamese Iced Coffee”

  1. Great Idea!

    I barely ever drink ice coffee, and I certainly have never tried the Vietnamese version, but I copied this recipe and I will be making it soon.

    I’ll let you know how it goes!

    1. Vietnamese Iced Coffee

      I had Viet. Iced Coffee for 10 + years. But the best was when I was in Ban Me Thuot, Vietnam. The highlands area where coffee is grow. I have had it sweetend and plain. I really enjoyed all.

      1. Ah yes, I remember the

        Ah yes, I remember the coffee in BMT – I got back from 2 years in Vietnam last week and am currently dealing with the withdrawl from Vietnamese coffee – i love it but trung nguyen costs $18 a bag locally so I won’t buy it on principle 🙂
        Lovely area around BMT too – amazing waterfalls on the way to Yok Don national park

        1. anything with sugar tastes great

          People comon now..

          I’m sure it’s wonderful..but calling it coffee?..hmmmmmmmmm

          It’s more like a dessert to me.

          If you have ever had the pleasure of this then you know what i mean.

          A cappuccino with no sugar and a dollop of foam is the true test of a superior

          espresso shot. Adding condensed milk would be insane.

          1. Well, I’ve been to Italy,

            Well, I’ve been to Italy, I’ve been to Costa Rica, and I’ve been to Vietnam, and I must say that the best coffee that I’ve ever enjoyed is the one in Vietnam. It was what got me out of bed early every morning, knowing there would be another cup of that delicious stuff. And you can make it either with no milk at all or you can use sweetened condensed milk. Adding milk foam would be insane.

          2. VIETNAMESE coffee

            I agree with the last comment – Likewise I have been to costa rica (and panama where the coffee is similar) and found on a recent trip to vietnam that their coffee is just as good if not better. It tends to be sweet, less bitter than most and chocolatey. Never tried it with cardomom though. I preferred mine black and was delighted to see that there were so many places to buy great coffee in vietnam. I enjoyed the ritual and the complimentary chinese tea to drink whilst waiting for the brew. Thai coffee these days tends to be made with those awful plasticky machines and was mostly disappointingly weak and bitter. even the “sock coffee” came nowhere near (tasted like granulated instant to me). raysto

          3. Sanity or Insanity?

            That may be the question. Clearly, you’ve never had any Vietnamese coffee, or you’d know the answer. Sanity.

  2. condensed milk

    I love this stuff, and I used Longevity condensed milk. This stuff makes the difference. I’ve tried it with other brands, but this one has the right sweetness, and thickness.

  3. Iced Coffee

    I went out and bought the right equiptment, and it was fantastic, the taste was as I remembered it, strong and sweet, and very much like Haagen-dazs. Thank you for saying exactly how to make it.

    1. Chicken and coffee.

      Well the Vietnamese Iced Coffee looks amazing. After reading another post i though i would make a thai coffee with diner tonight, but now.. i’m not quite sure which one to choose! I just can’t stand the taste of coffee here at work, can’t wait to be back home 🙂

  4. spices in my vietnamese coffee today

    at Chai in New YOrk (55th/7th), i had my first cup of vietnamese coffee today. delicious. mine had spots of a green/black spice. what was that?

  5. silly question

    Does vietnamese coffee contain turmeric? I’ve been reading a lot lately about the anti cancer properties of turmeric and heard somewhere that is was spiced with it.

  6. Chicory

    Thank you for the informative article, but I think you might want to change the bit about using chicory. Chicory is an American thing. Saying chicory coffee is authentic Vietnamese coffee is like saying chop suey at the mall food court is authentic Chinese food. Anyone who wants to re-create the Vietnamese coffee experience they had in Vietnam will be very disappointed by chicory coffee. They would be best off with Peets Major Dickeson’s blend if they want to shop from a brick-and-mortar, or they can go online and buy real Vietnamese coffee, like Trung Nguyen, for a lot less per pound.

    Also, though this is splitting hairs, Vietnamese cafes use gravity-operated filters, not screw-downs. Screw-down filters are Chinese, which is why we have them in America – we just love importing from China. But that is a minor point because both brew pretty much the same (I’ve tried them both). The gravity kind is just easier to use because there’s no screw to fiddle with.

  7. You should put the chicory back in

    You’re completely wrong about taking the chicory out.  It’s a standard and authentic part of Vietnamese coffees to have a bit of chicory in them.

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