Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)
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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You might enjoy these recipes too
- 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.