Vietnamese Iced Coffee is an intensely brewed coffee concentrate that drips down into a tall glass of ice and a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.
To make Vietnamese Iced Coffee, start with medium grind French Roast coffee, brew in a Vietnamese coffee press with 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, and then pour over ice.
If you love coffee, and have only tried weak, watered down coffee served over ice, you’re in for a big revelation.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee is creamy, rich, smooth and sweet. Oh, and intense coffee flavor. It’s bold in flavor and the coffee makes a wonderful Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream as well.
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 gallon of Vietnamese Iced Coffee for now….and another one to save for their afternoon treat!
Ingredients for Vietnamese Iced Coffee
- Medium-ground coffee
- Sweetened condensed milk
What type of coffee for Vietnamese Iced Coffee?
Option 1: The Standard Coffee
To make Vietnamese Iced Coffee, start with using the right grind of coffee. Look for MEDIUM coarse grind coffee. I’ve found French Roast is best, but you can use any type of coffee, as long as the coffee is medium coarse grind.
Fine grind coffee would fall right through the little holes of the coffee press.
Many Vietnamese in America like using Café du Monde coffee from New Orleans. If you are interested in the history of why the Vietnamese use Café du Monde, head over to The Secret Ingredient to America’s Vietnamese Coffee. The yellow can is the most popular (I prefer this over the Café du Monde French Roast – but try both!)
Option 2: The Upgrade Coffee Experience
The coffee in the mustard yellow can is okay. It’s not the best coffee, but it is the standard amongst 90% of Vietnamese restaurants in America.
To me, the stuff is bitter and flat. But the sweetened condensed milk will cover the coffee’s flaws.
If you are looking to upgrade your Vietnamese Coffee experience, try Nguyen Coffee Company.
Nguyen Coffee Supply is the first ever Vietnamese-American-owned importer, supplier, and roaster of green coffee beans from Vietnam in New York. They’ve partnered with a 4th generation farmer, Mr. Ton, who owns and operates his family farm in Vietnam’s famed Central Highlands.
Give their coffee a try! UPDATE: They are giving Steamy Kitchen readers 10% off (use code STEAMY)
Use Sweetened Condensed Milk
It’s the sweet, sticky, thick stuff – NOT evaporated milk! No substitutions here! Find this at any grocery store.
Get a Vietnamese Coffee Press
Found at any Asian market – they usually cost a few dollars, or online – Amazon sells them! I’ve purchased several from this seller on Amazon and they’ve been fantastic. Don’t pay more than $12 per press.
How to make Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)
Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a glass
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.
Step 3: Screw on the press tight. The coffee should be packed well.
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.
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.
While it’s dripping, go get some ice in a glass. You’ve got nothing else to do!
Step 6: Once it’s finished, stir well.
You can set your coffee maker on top of its overturned lid to prevent dripping onto your nice table.
Step 7: Pour over a tall glass filled with ice and enjoy!
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Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)
- 2 tablespoons Medium-Grind French Roast 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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That looks very good! Throw some Bailey’s in there, too!
very well for the post, I liked it a lot as you expressed it and the good way you are carrying, regards
I love Vietnamese iced coffee!
Thank you for these links and the discount code! My favorite Vietnamese restaurant is too far to get to given the circumstances. I ordered from the Nguyen company and it was perfect. My order arrived fast and the coffee was delicious. I’m already planning to get their sets as gifts for family this year. This recipe made a perfect treat!!
One of my favorites is Cafe Sua Da of Vietnam because of its rich, creamy taste. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I can finally make them in the comforts of my home. 😉
I love ca phe sua da! Especially the one at Lee’s sandwiches!
How is the Black & White condensed milk compared to Longevity brand?
This is probably my favorite thing. I love it! I tried it for the first time a couple years ago and it blew my mind. (Thanks so much for everything! I love this site.) I’ve been looking for one of those coffee “tophats” for a while and haven’t had much luck. I’ll have to check out that link in the morning, I’m so excited- I’ve been dying for one of these since the place I usually go to closed for quarantine.
Great article! Vietnamese coffee is delish.
Oh my it looks so rich and creamy..I can hardly wait to try it!
I love Iced Coffee
Going to have to try this version.
I first got a real taste for it sitting on a Restaurant Porch in the sun overlooking the Ocean on Aegina The Greek Island, it was Dark and over lots of ice in a large Brandy type glass with whipped cream over the top of it.
So need to buy a Vietnamese Coffee Press now, Yay!!!
Great Idea for a Competition Prize Jaden & Scott
A couple of the Coffee Presses and a tin of the coffee with 6 cans of the Condensed Milk
Not sure on the ice though, might be a big puddle by the time the winner gets it!!
For a coffee addicted, this recipe is a summer favorite, lol. Thanks for sharing this!
Perfect. Thank you. Very strong and creamy!
The first time that I tried this type of coffee was at a little Vietnamese restaurant with a NATO Advisor after dinner and upon leaving was shaking from the caffeine rush. Couldn’t get to sleep until just before the shelling started. So much for getting any sleep after that. But I loved that coffee and still do. Mahalo for the recipe. Mmmm onolicious. Much Aloha to you from Hawaii.
This is amazing. I am a coffee lover and thanks for giving me some variations in it. Now at last my tongue will get something good. Going to try this on this weekend.
My girlfriend is from Vietnam and she’s never heard of coffee with chicory in it, so if you want an authentic experience I recommend not using coffee with chicory. (Also, it’s ca phe… not cafe. (Cà phê sữa đá.) Just to pick nits.)
Here in the U.S., if you go to any Vietnamese restaurant, grocery store or cafe, you’ll find this brand of coffee, that’s made with coffee and chicory.
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?
Try a finer grind of coffee and add MORE coffee grounds to get a more rich coffee.
gotta have vietnamese sweetened condensed milk not the american stuff! longevity is the brand i believe.
Wow…looks like an art to make this coffee. The results look fabulous !
I highly recommend trying replacing the medium coffee that you say in the recipe and use a few shots of espresso instead. Wow…talk about a pick me up :).
You can use any one of the following espresso machines to easily make this in less than a minute! http://www.brownscoffee.com/best-espresso-machine-list/
The trick here is condensed milk (condensed sugar basically), without it its just another coffee.
I PURCHASE THE VIETNAMESE COFFEE FILTER BUT IT SEEMS ITS DRIPPING TOO FAST FOR ME
IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN MAKE IT SLOW DRIPPING?
Screw the filter in tighter to slow the flow.
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?
Hi Matthew – right around 3-4 minutes for the coffee to drip. jaden
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
Condensed milk makes all the difference! Love that stuff!
what if you substitute Bailey’s Irish Cream for the sweetened condensed milk? It’s pretty thick, it could work right?
YES! Wow, I think I might need to try that!
Now you are talking my language!!
Bailey’s with anything is good!
I live in Hoi An Vietnam, and always put Baileys or kalua in my Cafe Sua Da in the afternoon
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.
Hi Sergey – Yes, it’s true. Real Vietnamese coffee is 100% coffee – however Vietnamese Americans often use Cafe du Monde brand, which includes chicory. Check out this piece on Vietnamese Coffee on Salon.com: http://www.salon.com/2009/12/07/vietnamese_coffee/
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!
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.
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
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!
You can also freeze the SC milk in freezer trays and then pop out as many as you want
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
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!
This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe and visual shots – now I want to make it ^^
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.
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!!! =)
Is it true they also use cold press coffee because it doesn’t have a slightly bitter aftertaste?
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!
In Vietnam we make a big bitch of coffee, then store in plastic Coke bottles in refridgerator until needed. To make Cafe Sua Da Saigon, filling a tell glass with ice (Da) then coffee and and sweetened condensed milk last
Batch, not bitch….. DAMN AUTO SPELL lol
Looks so velvety and smooth. I love it.
May I suggest a guide for coffee grinding? I saw you were linking to one.
It’s here: http://www.coffeegrindersreviews.com/edu/coffee-grind.html
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.
Ask for cubed or block ice (Da)
gorgeous photos, great tutorial. found you through a google search! can’t wait to turn this into an ice cream! 🙂
What can we say – YUMMY!
uuhhh very nice… have to try that !
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.
You can fold a coffee paper filter into a cone and place it between the glass and slow drip.
Oh i can’t wait to try this! It is just what I am looking for, I will be saving it for my caffeine fix!
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.
That’s a yummylicious Ca phe sua da and Ca phe sua nong!!! I just ran out the coffee! Gorgeous photos as always!!!
Love, love, LOVE!!! Thank you!
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! 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
While we were in Malaysia, we had coffee similar to this and I LOVED it! Now, whenever we go to a Vietnamese restaurant in town, I order coffee and reminisce.
Jaden, the new look is awesome! sorry for the late feedback, was just tied up with work!!
keep up the good work, and keep drinking that iced coffee!!:)
I’ve never had Vietnamese iced coffee, but I’ve made Vietnamese coffee ice cream couple of times (recipe courtesy of DL). That was absolutely delicious!!!
I love iced coffee. And you look wonderful!!!!!
Thanks for the mention Jaden! You are looking so mighty fine girlfriend, you’re looking different every time I see ya. Is it the coffee? Chasing the boys around? What ever it is, tell me your secret to beauty!
Diane & Todd over at White on Rice Couple, made us some of this GREAT coffee when we had lunch with them last month. I always forget how much I enjoy coffee this way, until I have it again and we even have the tools to make it at home – may be time to dust it off and enjoy!
Yeah! I’m so glad that we Mac users can now watch your videos. You did a terrific job and look like you’re having a good time. Now I need to go out and buy one of those coffee filters. Like my kitchen needs one more gadget. Thanks!
Thanks for this! One of my best friends loves Vietnamese iced coffee, so now he’ll be happy indeed.
And, my mom wanted to make sure I sent you a message about how much she loves reading you in The Trib now. I mentioned that I’d send you emails after seeing her read the food section, and she got very excited. She especially approves of your use of fresh ginger.
YES!! I was wondering what to do with the cans of cafe du monde coffee sitting in my cupboard!! You’re my hero!!! 🙂
the first time i ordered this at a pho restaurant, i had no clue what to do with the metal thing. i ended up making a mess all over the table – but the coffee was delicious.
I have never tried this before but it looks amazing.
wiohohohoooo i think it will make me very very happy too…especially in the mornings when i have recently been super cranky, lemme blame it on the hot and balmy hk summer….
now i need some icy cold lime soda
The segment on TV is so cuute! You’re getting good at that TV thing. I watched it three times in the row, does that make me officially a stalker? haha 🙂
I love vietnamese coffee and i always order it at my favorite viet’ restaurant here in NY. Not a bad idea to start making it at home.
btw: i almost pee’d in my pants at the comment you left on my blog. hahaha.
I’ve always loved Vietnamese Coffee because of the Condensed milk. Yum. Now you’ve inspired me to use this flavour in home-made Ice Cream! or Tiramisu. hm.
Very cool! Nice pics, too.
YUM!!!!!!!!!!! I am making this with my french press for sure.
I do love the Vietnamese coffee but this also reminds me of a now defunct cheese-shop-that-turned-into-a-coffee-shop back in San Diego called Quel Fromage. They used to make the most ridiculously rich and awesome Mocha with sweetened condensed milk. I might have to try and recreate that this weekend.
By they way, Jaden, all of the photos you post in your blog are way better than your official photo in the masthead. Not that you look bad in any photos but I encourage you to use one of them instead! I’m just sayin’…
Oh, I loooooooooooooove Vietnamese coffee! I bought the little filters a couple of years ago but sadly have hardly ever used them. As you can imagine the Scottish climate doesn’t really lend itself to drinking coffee cold!
Put a shot of Baileys in it to warm up your day lol
i love this stuff, i get it at the places we go for pho. it never occurred to me that the little press would be so easy to get, and then i can make it at home!
Wow, thanks for breaking that down for us! I was always curious about it. I do believe that this coffee would make for fabulous, fabulous ice cream or pastry cream flavors.
I love that you recommended Cafe Du Monde! The chicory adds such a unique flavor that isn’t bitter like other roasts (even though the Sweetened condensed milk balances things out). Last I made Vietnamese coffee I used Cafe Du Monde and was not disappointed. Thanks for this Jaden!
I’ve never had it but sounds like a good change from what I’m used to. I also fell in love with something probably kind of similar–the teas and coffees they would prepare in India. Some times, you can pick out the spices that flavor something, but other times, everything is just in such harmony, that it becomes hard to pick apart. It was a delightful way to wake up each morning.
This is possibly my most favorite drink in the whole world. I recently made DL’s Vietnamese coffee ice cream (4 batches in two weeks *cough*) and it is as good as the drink itself. thanks for the step-by-step photos and resources for the coffee press.
Vietnamese coffee is fantastic – don’t know why it never occurred to me to make it at home. Your site looks awesome – been out of the loop for a while.
nice Jaden , i’d seen this vietnamese coffe long back with nordjulus but havent been able to get my hands on the coffee press. know of someone who can mail it to africa ?
the pics are wonderful.
haha n carnation is such a honkie thing for me always 🙂
Wow looks so delicious. It is going to be amust try recipie for me.
I’ve only ever had this in a V restaurant, but I think I might get myself a maker for home.
Hahaha that orange can… so familiar!
I used to drink this stuff all the time… but I don’t drink coffee any more. 😉
Man, that looks good!
This is one of my favorite (non-alcoholic) drinks, period. Thanks again for the drool-worthy pics.
coffee and condensed milk! sounds fantastic. I will definitely have to buy one of those baby coffee presses (they’re cute!)
This press looks like the one from India, and I think the coffee sounds quite a bit the same, with the chicory… I’m not sure if there is a difference but I’m going to try this with my Indian filter coffee… Looks too good not to try!
I love the step by step instructions! That coffee looks sinfully rich in flavour!
Yum-e!! I love Vietnamese iced coffee.. perfect for breakfast with a hot bowl oh Mi Bo Kho! Vietnamese sure know where its at!
Thank you so much for sharing!!
Jaden, Thanks so much for sharing these amazing recipes with us. I know I’ll be trying both and I absolutely love the shrimp chips for the Asian Nachos. Yumo!
I love me some cafe sua da! But I won’t make it at home (and rarely make Thai tea, another favorite) because I could chug 10 cups in a row (or an entire pitcher of tea). It’s exceedingly addictive.
One note: Most Asian groceries carry those cans of Cafe du Monde, so don’t worry that you have to go to New Orleans for it!
the press I have doesn’t have the little niche at the top, so I usually have to use some paper towel to keep my fingers from getting burnt when turning the knob….still, I love vietnamese coffee!
Looks great! Who needs Starbucks? 😉
oh that looks sooo good! I have never bought cafe du monde, but peter took me there when i took him to new orleans for his birthday (7 days before Katrina hit, go figure) and i LOVED their coffee (and their (as i yell to peter how do you spell ‘beignet’?!) beignet’s, of course!)
anyhow, have never had experience with Vietnamese Iced Coffee but I just love all coffee, so now i must try this.
btw, i love the pics, GREAT lighting on ‘how-to’, I almost thought those were stock from possibly cafe du monde site or something 😉
Oh, YUM. You had me at “coffee” and “sweetened condensed milk” – done. I adore that little coffee press too. Just what I need, another kitchen tool!
oh you are so beautiful and look so happy with the coffee 🙂
I don’t care for coffee at all but you do take the most wonderful pictures!
So why was the host standing on a box and you were standing in a hole in the floor?
PS: She looked like she needed a jolt of something.
I love Vietnamese coffee with a great bowl of pho. I’m also partial towards evaporated milk. My mom calls it sweet milk. Must be a Hong Kong thing. My son has grown up calling it sweet milk, and loves it spread on the Hong Kong style white bread, which looks like pain de mie.
Your pics are fabulous. Cafe Sua Da is soooo good. It gives me a buzz that lasts all afternoon.
Sharon – Thai coffee has cardamom!
That looks very good! Throw some Bailey’s in there, too! 🙂
MMM, Vietnamese coffee makes me happy too. Maybe a stupid question, but what’s the difference between Vietnamese & Thai coffee? I need to get one of those cute coffee presses!
I love Vietnamese iced coffee! But I haven’t had one in a LONG time. I’ve been caffeine free since 1994. I think I would be awake for days if I had one now.