If you are a coffee lover and have looked for new ways to enjoy it, Vietnamese is an option that we recommend. But if you’ve never heard what it is, then you’re in the right place too.
Here is a quick and practical guide to how to make a tasty Vietnamese coffee from the comfort of your home and the best tips for you to have the perfect cup.
What is Vietnamese Coffee?
Vietnamese coffee or Cà phê sữa đá, in Vietnamese, is a sweet coffee that can be served hot or cold.
Its name comes from its place of origin. This recipe arrived in Vietnam in the late 19th century by French settlers. Its name translates coffee with milk and ice. But it turns out that during the time of colonization it was very difficult to get fresh milk. Therefore, from that moment they began to replace fresh milk with condensed milk and so this beverage was born.
For this brew, you will use the Vietnamese coffee maker (or Phin coffee filter), of course. It’s a drip coffee maker made of stainless steel that normally can brew only one coffee at a time, but it comes in different sizes. A coffee that is intense and strong-flavored. Physically, the coffee maker is very much like a metal cup or pot with a filter press, plate, and lid.
The other star ingredient of this recipe is condensed milk, which combined with pure and intense coffee, creates a balanced drink in flavor and body.
- 30 ml (1 fl oz) or 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk.
- 10 g or 2 tablespoons ground coffee (preferably of Vietnamese origin or Robusta).
- 240 ml (8 fl oz) or 1 cup of water.
- Vietnamese Phin. For this recipe, we’ll use a double serve Phin filter (8 ounces).
- A transparent, heat-resistant glass cup.
- Ice (optional)
Vietnamese coffee recipe instructions
1. Pour the two tablespoons of condensed milk into your glass. This will be the first layer of your Vietnamese coffee. There will be two layers since condensed milk is thick, so it will not easily combine with coffee.
2. Place the plate of the Phin in the glass.
3. Add the two tablespoons of ground coffee to the pot or container and gently tap to level it. Then, place it on the plate in the glass cup.
4. Place the filter inside the pot. With the filter, you can make a little pressure to compact the coffee. But don’t over press. The best way to make sure everything is in place is to give the filter a small turn clockwise without squeezing the coffee.
NOTE: If the coffee is very compact, the water will have no way of seeping through the coffee and falling into the glass.
5. Boil the 8 ounces of water and let it stand until it reaches a temperature between 91 to 96 °C (195 to 205 °F). This will be about 30 seconds after it has boiled.
6. Add just a little of the hot water (around twice as much as coffee) to the pot to let the coffee “bloom” for a few seconds (30 s usually). This is when water releases CO2 from the coffee. Then pour the rest of the water slowly and in circular movements until it fills the phin. Coffee will start dripping into the glass.
7. Cover the Phin filter with the lid to keep it warm. Then you just have to wait 3-5 minutes for all the coffee to drip.
8. It’s done! You can now enjoy your Vietnamese coffee. If you want it cold, just fill a larger glass with ice and pour over the coffee mixture. In addition, you can try it in two different ways:
- No stirring. This way you will enjoy the intense coffee first and you will end with the coffee-flavored sweet condensed milk. Two bodies and two flavors!
Combined. Stir the drink until smooth. Like this, you will have a drink with only one body, with a not very strong but sweet taste.
You have another way of making Vietnamese coffee. Not only will you use condensed milk, but also whole milk and coconut milk. In Vietnam, this preparation is also very common but in cold form.
The process is very similar: Add the condensed milk to the bottom of the glass and stir with coconut milk and whole milk in equal parts. Then add the coffee as the previous instructions. In the end, don’t forget to add ice.
Tips for having the best coffee
- The best coffee you can use for this recipe is one with a medium to high roasting degree. This is the ideal to give the drink an intense flavor that balances perfectly with the sweetness of condensed milk.
- The grinding degree that you should use for this preparation is between medium to coarse. Fine grinding doesn’t work since it is a slow brewing method. Remember, the longer the coffee is in contact with water, the thicker the grinding should be. As it is better to grind the coffee just when you are going to use it, we have a recommended list of grinders.
- Many parts of the world use Robusta coffee since it contains more caffeine and its taste is more bitter. That flavor will be ideal to blend with sweet condensed milk. However, using arabica coffee with a dark roast will work just fine.
- When you pour the water into the Vietnamese coffee maker, the extraction should occur in little drops. If you see that a continuous stream is pouring out, it is because the filter is not set properly. Flip the filter clockwise to make it fit tighter and therefore the brewing slower.
- Although the original way to make this coffee is with a Vietnamese Phin coffee filter, you can use other tools. You can for example make an espresso or a strong coffee in a drip coffee maker. If you want to know how to brew a good base coffee for this recipe, visit our step-by-step guide with tips.
Making Vietnamese coffee at home now is not a problem. If you love coffee in milk and sweet, this will be especially delicious for you.