How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Recipe)

Throughout Asia, iced coffee is considered a regional delicacy with a wide variety of different preparations. One method that has gained worldwide popularity for its sweet and caffeinated refreshing qualities, is iced  Vietnamese coffee. During the hot summer months of the subtropics, iced Vietnamese coffee is a cool treat that works great as both an early morning energizer or as an after-meal dessert.


What is Vietnamese Coffee?

Iced Vietnamese coffee is known for being both sweet and strong. Cà phê đá, or iced Vietnamese coffee, is a coarse, dark roast coffee prepared in a specific drip filter known as a phin cà phê. Once filtered, the coffee is quickly poured over ice to prevent the grounds from expiring. Iced Vietnamese coffee is frequently served by adding two to three tablespoons of condensed milk prior to the drip brewing. While making iced Vietnamese coffee the traditional way involves a specific filter system, a French press can also get the job done in a pinch!  While still maintaining the rich, creamy, dessert-like sweetness that it is famous for, iced Vietnamese coffee can be prepared by first brewing your dark roast grounds in a French press before pouring the contents over iced, condensed milk.  


The History of Vietnamese Coffee

Coffee came to Vietnam in the mid-19th Century when a French priest brought an arabica coffee plant to the country. While not native to the region, the humid climate and landscape proved incredibly receptive to the environment. The robusta bean thrived even more in this atmosphere and soon overtook arabica as the region’s favored coffee plant. Over the next century, Vietnam grew to be one of the world’s leading exporters of robusta coffee beans.  

The use of sweetened condensed milk in iced Vietnamese coffee was initially used out of necessity. When dairy farming was in its infancy in Vietnam, cow’s milk was in short supply, leaving canned, condensed milk as the primary method for sweetening the drink. The combination of rich, strong, dark-roast coffee and sweetened condensed milk came to be recognized as iced Vietnamese coffee’s signature flavor. 

Lovers of iced Vietnamese coffee tend to prefer a darker roast when making the beverage, and many of them recommend a medium-coarse grind — which is perfect for a French press. Using a high-quality burr grinder (as opposed to a blade grinder) is more effective for finer grounds and ideal for brewing with a French press. This makes crafting your own iced Vietnamese coffee at home a breeze!


Iced Vietnamese coffee recipe:

Ingredients needed for a single serving:

  • 2 tablespoons, coffee grounds
  • 1-2 tablespoons, condensed milk
  • 150-250 ml. (6-8 oz.), boiling water
  • 1 glass of ice
  • French press

Instructions:

  1. To make iced Vietnamese coffee using a French press, start by pouring 1 to 2 tablespoons of condensed milk into the bottom of a glass. 
  2. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of coffee grounds to your French press.
  3. Carefully pour boiling water into the French press over the grounds.
  4. After about 30 seconds, press the plunger of the French press slowly downwards, allowing the coffee to filter up through the water. 
  5. Pour the coffee from the French press into the prepared cup with condensed milk and ice
  6. Mix the coffee and condensed milk using a spoon, and serve

In a rush? For a quicker brew and an even sweeter taste, try using one of our EspressoWorks machines that can get your coffee ready in just 45 seconds; then pour over iced condensed milk!