Vietnamese Ice Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)


Vietnamese Ice Coffee is an intensely brewed coffee concentrate that drips down into a tall glass of ice and a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.

If you love coffee, and have only tried weak, watered down coffee served over ice, you’re in for a big awakening.

Vietnamese Ice Coffee is creamy, rich, smooth and sweet. Oh, and intense coffee flavor. It’s bold in flavor and makes a wonderful Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream as well.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

When I made this on TV years ago, I was grateful that I brought extra coffee, ice and sweetened condensed milk – the entire television crew and morning hosts/hostesses all wanted a galls of Vietnamese Ice Coffee for now….and another one to save for their afternoon treat!

How to make Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

1) French roast medium coarse ground coffee: You can use any type of coffee really. Many Vietnamese use Cafe Du Monde French Roast Chicory coffee, but as long as the coffee is medium coarse ground, you can use it. Fine ground coffee would fall right through the little holes of the coffee press.

2) Sweetened condensed milk: It’s the sweet, sticky, thick stuff – NOT evaporated milk! No substitutions here!

3) Vietnamese coffee press: Found at any Asian market – usually between $1.50 and $6.00, or online – Amazon sells them!

4) 2 glasses: one filled to the brim with ice.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a glass

Add grounds

Step 2: Add 2 tablespoons of ground coffee to the base of the coffee press. Wet the grounds just a little bit with some hot water.

Screw on the press tight

Step 3: Screw on the press tight. The coffee should be packed well.

Pour boiling hot water

Step 4: Pour boiled hot water into the coffee press.


Cover with its little hat.
Step 5: Wait. It will drip veeerrrry….veeerrrry slowly. It takes 3-5 minutes to finish brewing.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

The longer it takes, the stronger the coffee. Notice that there are only a few drops per second. For me, I can’t wait any longer than 5 minutes. If the coffee is dripping too fast, then use a small spoon or tip of knife to screw the press on tighter, 1 turn clockwise. Or if it’s dripping too slow, unscrew 1 turn counterclockwise.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe

While it’s dripping, go get some ice in a glass. You’ve got nothing else to do!

Viet Iced Coffee

Step 6: Once it’s finished, stir well.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe

You can set your coffee maker on top of its overturned lid to prevent dripping onto your nice table.
Step 7: Pour over ice and enjoy!

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Vietnamese Ice Coffee Recipe

Servings: 1 Prep Time: Cook Time: 6 minutes

You'll need a Vietnamese Coffee Maker.


2 tablespoons medium course ground coffee
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk


1. Boil water, remove from heat to cool just a bit while you measure out your coffee grounds.
2. Add sweetened condensed milk to a cup. Fill a separate, tall glass with ice. The more ice you use, the weaker the iced coffee.
3. Spoon in the coffee into the Vietnamese Coffee Maker. Wet the grounds with about a tablespoon of the hot water. Screw on the press, finger tight. Pour in the hot water and cover. The coffee will slowly drip into the cup. Use the tip of a spoon or butter knife to turn the press clockwise (for tighter press, if the coffee is dripping too fast) or counter-clockwise (too loosen if the coffee isn't dripping at all.) It should take about 3-5 minutes to finish brewing. Adjust the press as needed.
4. Stir the hot coffee and the sweetened condensed milk well. Pour over the ice in the tall glass.

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Comments 95

  1. City Girl DC

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I always order the coffee when out at Vietnamese restaurants. Wish there were more in DC – the city, not the burbs!

  2. Victoria

    This looks so refreshing. This is the second Vietnamese Iced Coffee recipe I’ve seen recently, so obviously it’s a sign I must try this out immediately 🙂

  3. Vegeyum Ganga

    This is just like how the South Indians make coffee, except that they serve it with boiled milk rather than condensed milk, but also very very sweet. It is the best coffee I have ever tasted, so I will have to make it this way now.

    I did a post on South Indian coffee if you are interested.

  4. Marianne

    Thank you for the instructions. My Vietnamese friend gave me the press, the condensed milk and the coffee but the instructions were in Vietnamese! LOL! 🙂

  5. pixen

    That’s a yummylicious Ca phe sua da and Ca phe sua nong!!! I just ran out the coffee! Gorgeous photos as always!!!


  6. magrack

    I recently re-visited Viet Nam; the first two trips were 40 and 37 years ago I did’t get to try this style of coffee then, but I made up for it on this trip.

    Fantastic stuff. I brought back three of the coffee makers and a couple pounds of coffee and my morning routine includes an ounce of ca phe sua.

    Though my wife and some of my friends classify me as a “coffee snob”, I’m not really a snob, but I know what I like.

    In order to make this right, I believe you must use a real Vietnamese roast…I’ve experimented with others and though the New Orleans coffees make a suitable substitue, it just doesn’t have the same flavor.

    Vietnamese coffees are available here in the states (most orietal markets carry it) and is worth the effort to find some. Some stores carry the coffee filters and are cheap.

    If you haven’t tried it, I think you’re missing a real coffee lovers delight.

  7. Jessica

    I tried to make this, but how do you not get the coffee grounds from straining through the filter? I’ve screwed the filter as tight as it can go, but i still get little flecks that my BF hates. I really do not mind them, but he cannot enjoy it the same.

    Any suggestions?

  8. lyndsay

    gorgeous photos, great tutorial. found you through a google search! can’t wait to turn this into an ice cream! 🙂

  9. Poor Taste

    This looks so good, thanks for the tutorial! One thing: I’ve noticed many bahn mi shops will serve their iced coffee over crushed, almost slushie-like ice.

  10. TuyetHoaTienTu

    I love this cafe drink! It tastes so good! I love how it’s not to bitter than other coffee and I love how it goes good with the condense milk! Definitely a favorite drink of mine!

  11. razzle

    Is it true they also use cold press coffee because it doesn’t have a slightly bitter aftertaste?

  12. Anonimous

    Thanks sooo much!!! I just had some of this at a Vietnamese restuarant, and it was sooo good I came home and looked up how to make it, thanks again!!! =)

  13. Nord

    Have enjoyed Vietnamese coffee since the 60s. One comment… if you grind the beans too much, they will fall through to the cup below and take just about forever to make a decent cup. Medium grind works for me and just back out the screw a bit before adding water.

  14. Lexy Vu

    Definitely was craving condensed milk with bread (a childhood favorite!) and I didn’t want to just pop open a can of condensed milk and leave it sitting there for days upon weeks… So I figured, since I had family in town, I’d make cafe sua da. What really got me was my uncle and my brother added a shot of cognac to their cups!
    What a big surprise! IT. WAS. DELICIOUS!

  15. Hai Van

    Good morning from Vietnam,

    Thanks fo the post with excellent pictures. I have Ca Phe Sua Da almost every morning before office. I can show you how to get the best coffee village in Vietnam

  16. Janis

    Love this coffee! I call it my liquid inspiration since I get a ton done after a glass. Because I only have it once in a while, I was wondering what to do with the milk. Then I discovered I could place it in a plastic yogurt cup and throw it in the freezer. Twenty seconds or so in the microwave will thin it enough to pour it. Also, I use the same glass to receive the coffee + milk. I once measured the weight of the two tablespoons of milk plus the glass, marked a dot on the kitchen scale and now I don’t have to use a spoon to measure the milk, which just makes a mess. I place the glass on the scale and just pour milk til the scale hits the dot. Take it off the scale, set the filter on top, and brew away!

  17. gaby

    Have just returned from a fabulous holiday in Vietnam and the first thing i needed to do was find out how to make that great Iced coffee, thank you so much for your very clear instructions. I will be making it the minute I get to the shops to buy the condensed milk

  18. daniel

    I recently “discovered” cafe sua da and love it. I have tried to recreate at home and have not been having success; I just can’t get that same great strong flavor. It seems like I am getting a cup of caffeine that upsets my stomach more than anything. For such a simple device, I think I just haven’t mastered the phin yet. I recently tried to really tighten the filter and that gave me a better cup, but still a little to much caffeine and after almost 10 minutes only half the water had gone through the coffee. I will keep experimenting on getting the right “tamping” of the coffee but not so tight the water doesn’t do it’s job…..but I would love some tips if you have any. For coffee I have used the Trung Nguyen gourmet blend and premium blend and have tried mixing in some espresso roast ground as well.

  19. anita h

    I found Organic Sweetened condensed milk in a dispenser bottle from Trader Joes that is excellent for this, if you are only using a couple T at a time. It is the same price as canned milk!

  20. sergey

    Where did you take it from? I have been staying in Vietnam for several years, professional in coffee industry and very surprised reading about chicory as component of Vietnamese coffee at western forums.
    What they use really here in Vietnam is 100% coffee, robusta or robusta/arabika blend, dark roast. No chicory.

  21. matt

    what if you substitute Bailey’s Irish Cream for the sweetened condensed milk? It’s pretty thick, it could work right?

  22. Senyth

    I love how creamy your cafe sua da looks. How many ounces does the phin filter you used have? I used 2 tablespoons of coffee with my 8oz phin and the coffee is kind of diluted and not as creamy. 🙁 Do you use 4oz phin filter? Thanks. 🙂

    1. Post

      I have a small filter, it might hold 2-3 ounces of water. You want the coffee STRONG! The ice cubes will melt nicely in the coffee to provide perfect iced coffee.

  23. Scott Claborn Blanchat

    I pour/fill more water after the initial fill has drained, as recommended by a Vietnamese woman who owns a restaurant in Bisbee, AZ (Thuy’s). Try to locate Trung Nguyen coffee for the most authentic taste. Creative 1 is the roast that is the best . . . in my opinion.

  24. Scott Claborn Blanchat

    Also, the longer it takes for the coffee to drip through the filter the better, as more time is given for the coffee to infuse in the water. I had one that took over an hour to cease dripping, but it was the BEST one I ever had. Scree it down tight and start it earlier.

  25. Matthew Epstein

    My friends and I went to a Vietnamese coffee shop and we love the ice cold coffee they served.
    Upon reading your blog, now I know why it tastes better. I wonder how many minutes do I need to wait till dripping of coffee into the glass?

    1. Post
  26. PETER


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  27. Khanh

    The trick here is condensed milk (condensed sugar basically), without it its just another coffee.

  28. enrico

    Hi! thanks for this explanations with pictures.
    One question: recently I was in Vietnam and most of the sua da coffee I tried the density was more intense that the coffee I do using the Vietnamese coffee press. I use Trung Nguyen (sang tao 5) coffee. Any suggestion for get more creamy and dense?

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