Table Recipes: Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee

By franco on 23 October, 2007

Vietnamese Milk Coffee from La Fenetre Soleil
Vietnamese Iced Coffee from La Fenetre Soleil

I am not a coffee drinker.

Somehow I have avoided becoming one for most of my adult life. But my recent trip to Vietnam may have changed that, when I discover Ca Phe Sue Da or Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee. Served from simple street corners to ritzy restaurants in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese milk coffee, iced or otherwise, is practically a national drink.

There are two components that make this drink deliciously different: First, the Vietnamese Coffee Press which, because of its lack of a mesh or paper filter, allows all the essential oils to trickle down, creating an intense, flavored coffee and second, the sweetened condensed milk which acts as both creamer and sweetener, balancing out the strong flavors.

Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee (Ca Phe Sue Da)
Adapted from Coffee and Caffeine FAQ

  • 3 heaping teaspoons of finely ground Vietnamese Weasel Coffee*
  • 2 teaspoons of condensed milk
  • Near boiling water
  • Ice cubes

Special Equipment: Vietnamese Coffee Press**

* You can substitute a Dark French Roast with chicory blend

** “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.” – from Coffee and Caffeine FAQ

Pour the condensed milk in the bottom of a short glass.

Spoon the coffee grounds into the Vietnamese coffee press and screw lid down on the grounds.

Rest the coffee press on the rim the glass.

Pour a little bit of tepid water on the screw lid of the press to help the grounds settle and slow the dripping process.

Once the lukewarm water begins to drip through, pour the hot water over the screw lid. The coffee will drip slowly out the bottom of the press.

Once the coffee has stopped trickling through, stir the milk and coffee together.

Drop a few ice cubes into the coffee mixture. Stir. Sip. Savor. And enjoy.

Makes one serving

This coffee is not about a quick fix. The process is labor-intensive and relatively slow. However, I admit that I enjoy making it just as much as I enjoy drinking it. In the end, with a little patience, you are rewarded with a cool, surprisingly refreshing drink that gives a coffee high.




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  • OCTOBER 24, 2007 8:07 AM

    christine said...

    Vietnamese drip coffee is one of my most favorite things in the world! I prefer it hot, but the iced versions are good too. When I went to Hanoi I went nuts because of course it was everywhere.

    But really,I'm a sucker. Drizzle condensed milk on a worm and I might even consider eating it!

  • OCTOBER 26, 2007 7:29 AM

    Franco said...

    Haha. I so know what you mean Nena.

    Off topic but since like me you have a thing for condensed milk,you might want to try Sebastian's pastillias flavored ice cream. Just to damn good!!!

  • OCTOBER 26, 2007 6:45 PM

    katrina said...

    Pastillas ice cream by Ian??? Oh, don't do this to me!!! ;-)

    I am just beginning to realize that condensed milk is a beautiful invention. I loved it as a kid, then forgot all about it. But my recent trip to Thailand reminded me of its wonders...why DO we stop eating it when we grow up? It's dairy, sweet, with the convenience that comes from a can...what could be better than that?! ;-)

  • OCTOBER 30, 2007 9:28 AM

    christine said...

    Katrina, I wish for my own sake I had stopped eating it as I grew up! I still boil them over the stove once in a while to make toffee which I eat straight from the can. Oh the horrors!

    Pastillas Ice cream by Ian!?!?!?! I have to try that! Shoot, I shouldn't but I will!

  • MAY 9, 2008 10:36 AM

    Pia said...

    Hi! My mom-in-law just flew in from Vietnam and gave me some Vietnamese coffee. Would you where I can purchase a Vietnamese coffee press? I've seen it being used in Vietnamese restos but never thought to ask. Would a French press suffice? Thanks.

  • MAY 12, 2008 1:47 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Pia,

    A problem I understand all too well. When I bought my first bag of Vietnamese coffee, it came with a coffee press. Just one. Sadly, I cannot share the experience with my family or friends because I only have one. I have searched locally but I just haven't had any luck. :(

    But temporarily, the French press is fine. Honestly, I love the process of making Vietnamese milk coffee with the proper press. Love the dip, dip, dip of it. :)