This blog is written by Mal James, Co-Founder of Art De Vivre Coffee.
In the heat of the morning and midday heat of Ho Chi Minh city, it's how we get refreshed. Really, I don't know what I would do without it!
Luckily, you can do it too; making a delicious, chocolaty Vietnamese coffee is more accessible than most think. In fact, it is one of the simplest coffee drinks to make. You don't need an expensive espresso machine or a professional pouring technique; just a few key ingredients and a simple Vietnamese coffee filter will do the trick.
While there is a range of Vietnamese iced coffee beverages like coconut coffee and Vietnamese white coffee, today, we will guide you on how to make the most popular one; Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk (aka Cà Phê Sữa Đá).
So, let's go on with it! Check out the video below for a quick intro and step-by-step guide on making Vietnamese iced coffee.
What You Will Need
Below is what you will need to make one serving.
20 Grams of High-quality Robusta Coffee
While you could use the more common arabica coffee for this recipe, it will not give you the true Vietnamese coffee taste you are probably looking for.
Robusta beans are more intense with notes of dark chocolate and pair exceptionally well with condensed milk. This is one of the key differences between 'normal' coffee and Vietnamese coffee. If you don't already have some, you can pick up a bag at Art De Vivre Coffee's store. We offer both ground and whole bean robusta beans. If you are just getting into Vietnamese coffee, we would recommend our starter kit which includes a bag of our Lantern Robusta, a bag of our Lotus Arabica, a Vietnamese coffee filter, and a Vietnamese coffee recipe book.
15 ml Condensed Milk
Unlike most western coffees that use fresh milk, the majority of Vietnamese coffee beverages rely on condensed milk. This is also essential. Condensed milk this thicker and sweeter than regular milk.
If you can find it, we'd recommend using Longevity Brand Condensed Milk but most sweetened condensed milk will do the trick.
A Vietnamese Coffee Filter (aka Phin Filter)
You can brew Vietnamese coffee without a Vietnamese coffee filter but it simply won't be as good as it could be. For best results, we highly advise using a Vietnamese coffee filter.
It is an underrated brewing tool with so many reasons to use it, and they are not expensive. There's really no reason not to have one. Of course, we include one in our Vietnamese Coffee Starter Kit.
Filtered Or Bottled Water
We always advise using filtered or bottled water when making any coffee. Home Brewers often overlook water quality but using good-tasting water is one of the easiest ways to make any coffee better.
It may be obvious but it's easy to forget, make sure you have some ice on hand. We use about 200 grams per serving.
A Measuring Jug Or A Gram Scale
Coffee is part of art and a lot of science. Measuring ingredients accurately will help you to make the best and most consistent beverages.
The most convenient way to do this is to use a gram scale. Mostly designed for coffee brewing, these are small, typically battery-powered scales. If you intend on taking coffee brewing seriously, we'd recommend picking one up. We use one similar to this one by Hario.
If you don't have a gram scale, a simple measuring jug will suffice for today.
A Grinder (if you have whole-bean coffee)
If you have whole beans, you will need a grinder. We're not going to go into details on grinders here but you will need a dedicated coffee grinder that is capable of grinding to a medium-fine texture. A blade grinder that you might use for spices will not work for this.
You get what you pay for with grinders and many are very expensive. If you don't have one and are just getting started with homebrewing, we'd recommend using our ground coffee, which is already ground for use in a Vietnamese coffee filter.
Step 1: Grind Your Beans (skip this step if you have ground coffee)
To use a Vietnamese coffee filter, you will need to grind your coffee to a medium-fine texture (finer than sand but not powdery).
Step 2: Boil 200ml of Filtered or Bottled Water
You'll need to boil 200ml of water for this recipe.
Step 3: Preheat Your Vietnamese Coffee Filter
With the filter placed on top of your serving glass, add around 100ml of boiled water to the brewing chamber and allow it to drip through to the glass below. Then, discard the water. Use a towel and be careful as the glass and filter will become hot.
Step 4: Add 15ml of Condensed Milk to a Serving Glass
Add 15 ml of condensed milk to a serving glass. It is easiest to use a gram scale but if you don't have one, a measuring jug could also be used.
Step 5: Add Your Ground Coffee to the Filter
Next, add 20 grams(approximately 4 flat tablespoons) of ground coffee to your Vietnamese coffee filter. Then, give it a little shake to level off the coffee before dropping the filter weight onto the bed of coffee. There is no need to compress the coffee; this will cause the coffee to be over-extracted.
Step 6: Start Brewing Your Coffee
This is the fun part– Brew your coffee!
Make sure your coffee filter is placed on top of the glass containing the condensed milk. Slowly pour 20ml of boiled filtered water over the coffee bed. Then wait for 30 seconds. This allows the coffee to bloom.
After that, add another 80ml of water to the filter and allow the water to make its way through the coffee grounds. If you have followed the previous steps and your grind size is correct, it will take 5-6 minutes for the water to cease dripping.
Step 7: When the Dripping Has Finished, Stir the Mixture and Pour Over a Glass of Ice
Once the coffee has finished dripping into your glass, remove the filter. Use a towel for this as the filter will be hot.
After removing the filter, stir the mixture. It will turn a light brown color.
Step 8: Pour the Mixture Into a Glass of Ice
While it can be enjoyed hot, for the most refreshing experience, pour your mixture over a glass of ice.
There you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to make a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee.
Once you have the right ingredients and you follow the above steps, you can be sure that you are making the best coffee possible.
We hope that you found this post useful and if you have been, it has brought you back to Vietnam. If so, you may also be interested in the other Vietnamese coffee recipes detailed in our free recipe book.
If you have any questions or experiences to share with fellow readers, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Until next time, happy brewing.