Whenever I quiz my international friends about Vietnamese cuisine, the top hits are always Phở, Bánh Mì, and Coffee.

Of course, there’s more to Vietnamese food, but today, let’s talk about Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) , the heart and soul of Saigon’s vibe!!

Vietnamese iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da)

Origin of Vietnamese Coffee


Coffee is a legacy of French influence on Vietnamese cuisine from the colonial era.

Besides coffee, there are many delicious French-Vietnamese fusion dishes, such as liver pâté and mayonnaise (essential for Bánh Mì sandwiches) and Pâté Chaud (Vietnamese meat pies).

In Vietnam, coffee isn’t just a drink! It’s a whole culture.

Similar to Bánh Mì, coffee is inspiration for many popular songs among the Vietnamese youngster, such as this “Cà Phê” by Min.

When you’re in Vietnam, you’ll quickly notice that every street is sprinkled with coffee shops, big or small, part of a chain or a cozy local spot. And I’m sure that coffee (and chocolate) are the must-have Vietnamese souvenirs to bring back from your trip.

What makes an authentic Cà Phê Sữa Đá?

Three key points for an authentic Vietnamese coffee:

  • Robusta Coffee: Robusta coffee is known for its robust, nutty, and dark chocolate-like flavor compared to Arabica. Choose a Vietnamese coffee blend with a high ratio of Robusta.
  • Phin filter: The metal Phin filter is the go-to method for dripping coffee in Vietnam. I’ll share some tips on how to use a phin to brew coffee like a true Vietnamese later.
A glass of Vietnamese coffee
  • Condensed milk: condensed milk helps balance out the bitter and bold flavor of Robusta coffee. If you want to make traditional Vietnamese coffee, don’t substitute it with evaporated milk or fresh milk.

Beyond Vietnamese Iced Coffee

A glass of Vietnamese Salted Cream Coffee (Cà Phê Muối)
Salt Coffee (Cà Phê Muối)
Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung)
Egg Coffee (Cà Phê Trứng)
Bac Xiu (Vietnamese white coffee)
White Coffee (Bạc Xỉu)
Vietnamese Coconut Coffee
Coconut Coffee (Cà Phê Dừa)

How to Choose Vietnamese Coffee

1

Coffee Brands

I’ve previously shared a post about the top Vietnamese coffee brands for your Vietnam trip. Personally, I like Là Việt and Sơn Pacamara the best.

However, outside of Vietnam, Trung Nguyên is much more accessible, whether you’re in North America or Europe.

2

Coffee Grind Sizes

Since we’ll be using a phin filter for coffee dripping, ensure your ground coffee falls within the medium to medium-coarse range . The phin filter takes its time to drip, and if the ground coffee are too fine, the result will be overly strong.

What is a Phin filter?

Phin filter, the most popular coffee brewing equipment in Vietnam, consists of a perforated plate resting on the opening of your glass, a chamber atop the plate, an insert tamper for compressing the coffee and a lid to retain heat during the brewing process.

Parts of a Vietnamese Phin filter

Instructions

Brewing Vietnamese coffee with a phin filter is a breeze, taking less than 20 minutes, but there are a few key points to keep in mind:

1

Heat the water

  • Start by bringing your filtered water to a gentle boil (175°F or 80°C).
2

Rinse the Phin filter with boiling water

3

Measure the coffee and place it in the phin

  • Add 1 heaped tbsp of ground coffee to the phin chamber. Lightly shake it to evenly distribute the coffee. Place the tamper on the coffee (DO NOT press it).
Rinse the phin filter with hot water.
Step 2
Fill the phin filter with Vietnamese coffee.
Step 3
4

Bloom the coffee

  • Pour a bit of hot water onto the phin lid. Next, place the chamber on top of the lid.
  • Now, add a bit of water to the coffee, just enough to moisten them and let the grind bloom a bit.
Filling the Phin lid with hot water.
Bloom coffee in the phin filter.

While some people prefer placing the chamber with its plate directly into their glass and pouring water over it to bloom, we do it a bit differently in Vietnam. This method ensures a consistent bloom from top to bottom , plus it helps eliminate those pesky small grinds that might sneak through the filter to the lid.

5

Drip the coffee

  • Move the chamber onto the phin plate and then over your coffee glass. Be cautious as the phin is now hot.
  • Fill the filter and let it drip. Place the lid on top. The ideal brewing time is about 4-5 minutes. If your phin gets clogged, use a spoon to unclog underneath the filter.
Drip Vietnamese coffee with a phin filter.
Vietnamese coffee
6

Add condensed milk and ice

  • Add condensed milk to your taste, stir to mix and you’ve got Cà Phê Sữa.
  • Add ice cubes (Northern stlyle) or crushed ice (Southern style), and your Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) is ready to enjoy.
Vietnamese iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da)

How to enjoy Vietnamese Iced Coffee

  • Bánh Mì and Cà Phê Sữa Đá are always best friends for breakfast. Besides, we enjoy having Cà Phê Sữa Đá with a piping hot bowl of Phở, Bún Bò Huế, Bò Kho or a delicious plate of Cơm Tấm.
  • Sometimes, we enjoy coffee with savory snacks like Bánh Hot Dogs (Vietnamese Hot Dogs) or Bánh Bao (Vietnamese steamed buns).
  • Local people love to pour cà phê sữa đá over Bánh Flan (Vietnamese flan caramel) – it’s just our way.
  • Or top the coffee with Vietnamese avocado smoothie, and you will have the locally loved drink: Avocado Coffee aka Cà Phê Bơ.

Bring authentic Vietnamese Street Food to your kitchen

1

Ready in Under 30 Minutes

2

Satisfying Weekend Meals

a bowl of Bun Cha Ha Noi
Bún Chả (Northern Rice Noodles with Grilled Pork)
Mi Quang (Vietnamese turmeric noodles)
Mì Quảng (Vietnamese Turmeric Noodle Soup)

Thanks a bunch for giving my recipe a shot! If you enjoyed it, I’d truly appreciate a 5-star rating or a comment to let me know your thoughts.

And don’t forget to stay in touch with me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and YouTube 🥰.

Vietnamese iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da)

Vietnamese Coffee (Iced Option: Cà Phê Sữa Đá)

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Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cà Phê Sữa Đá) not only introduces Vietnamese cuisine to the world but also embodies the spirit of Saigon! Making it is a breeze and much easier than you might think.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 1 person

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp Vietnamese ground coffee (heaped)
  • Filtered Water
  • Condensed milk (to your taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat your filtered water until it reaches a gentle boil (175°F or 80°C).
  • Rinse the Phin filter with boiling water. It will help the coffee bloom and extract better.
  • Add a heaped tablespoon of ground coffee to the phin chamber. Gently shake it to distribute the coffee evenly. Place the tamper on the coffee (DO NOT press it).
  • Drizzle some hot water onto the phin lid. Then, place the chamber on top of the lid.
  • Afterward, add a bit of water to the ground coffee—just enough to moisten them and allow the grind to bloom a bit.
  • Move the chamber onto the phin plate and then place it over your coffee glass. Be careful, as the phin is now hot.
  • Fill the filter and let it drip. Place the lid on top. The recommended brewing time is around 4-5 minutes. If your phin gets clogged, use a spoon to unclog beneath the filter.
  • Pour condensed milk to your liking, stir to combine, and you've got Cà Phê Sữa.
  • Add ice cubes or crushed ice, and your Cà Phê Sữa Đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) is ready.

Notes

For the blooming step, unlike some who place the chamber directly into the glass and pour water over it, we do it differently in Vietnam. This ensures a consistent bloom from top to bottom and helps eliminate small grinds that might leak to the lid.
 
 
 
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