Vietnamese coffee is a symbol of the cafe culture thanks to the Dutch and French colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cafes are where friends and family meet up and hang out. Most single people live with their family until they are married, so places like a cafe becomes a venue to hold social gatherings. Vietnamese coffee can be served hot or cold and is usually very sweet due to the addition of condensed milk. Traditional Vietnamese coffee does not have the chicory flavoring that is popular today. That popularity is due to the brand Cafe du Monde and its widespread use for Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá). In this post, I will demonstrate how to make Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá), hot coffee with condensed milk (cà phê sữa) and a Starbucks version of the iced coffee.
1 single serving steel coffee press (You can buy one online).
1 can of condensed milk (the most popular brand is Longevity Brand’s condensed milk)
Medium to dark roast coffee grind. (Cafe Trung Nguyen or Cafe du Monde)
1. Iced Coffee / Cà phê sữa đá
Add 3 tablespoons of coffee grind to the press. Place the second piece of the press on top of the coffee and press down lightly. If you have a screw top version of the press, screw the piece tight enough so it will still allow for the coffee to expand with the hot water.
In a tall glass, add 2 tablespoons of condensed milk to the bottom. You can add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee.
Place the coffee press on top of the glass.
Add enough boiling water to the press so that it clears the first metal piece. The object is to wet the coffee grind enough so it will expand.
Once the water from the first batch of water has gone through the filter, fill the press to the top with boiling water.
Place the lid on top of the press and be patient while the coffee drips.
Once the coffee has finished dripping, remove the press and place it onto the lid (flipped up) so it can catch any remaining drips.
Stir to incorporate the coffee and condensed milk. This should taste very sweet and buttery, similar to mocha chocolate.
Let the coffee cool for a minute and add ice to the glass. Enjoy.
2. Hot Coffee / Cà phê sữa
To make hot coffee, repeat the same process as the iced coffee except only put 2 tablespoons of coffee into the press and 1 tablespoon of condensed milk to the bottom of the cup. Since there are no ice to dilute the strong coffee, I make my hot coffee less sweet than my iced coffee.
When I visited Sapa, our wonderful B&B allowed me to purchase this handmade cup and tea light burner set to keep the coffee hot.
3. Starbucks Hack for cà phê sữa đá
My brother came up with this combo to mimic the Vietnamese iced coffee at Starbucks. This will have less of the buttery taste than the traditional way of making iced coffee. However, the taste is close enough to the authentic cà phê sữa đá when it is inconvenient to make one.
At the counter, order 3 shots of espresso with 3 pumps of white mocha in a grande cup with ice. Stir and enjoy.
Now you are ready to have Vietnamese iced coffee whenever you want.