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From Saigon to Your Kitchen: How to Make Authentic Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Get ready to boss your kitchen by whipping up an insanely good Vietnamese iced coffee and brace yourselves for a flavor roller coaster ride that's totally addictive!

11 min read
Vietnamese Iced Coffee
Photo-Illustration: Catchy Shopper

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If you love Vietnamese iced coffee, you're in for a treat! The unique character of Vietnamese coffee is something that must be experienced. Known for its potent flavor, Vietnamese iced coffee pairs dark, aromatic coffee with a dose of sweetened condensed milk. Traditionally served over ice, it's a real delight on a hot day, but it's equally satisfying served hot. What's more, it's surprisingly easy to recreate in your own kitchen, letting you bring a taste of a Vietnamese coffee shop right into your home.

cafe vietnamese
Vietnamese Style Coffee Served Over Ice

In Vietnam, coffee is more than a morning pick-me-up. Introduced by French colonists in the late 19th century, it quickly intertwined with the local culture to create a unique Vietnamese coffee tradition. The Vietnamese adaptation embraces robust, dark-roasted coffee beans typically grown in the highlands of the country. Dripped through a traditional metal filter known as a phin, the coffee infuses slowly into a base layer of sweet, creamy condensed milk, before it's poured over a glass full of ice. The result? A deliciously strong, sweet, and refreshing beverage that's perfectly suited to Vietnam's tropical climate.

In our Iced Coffee Series, we delve into the captivating world of iced coffee from various perspectives and origins. Discover a plethora of articles and content pieces, from understanding the basics with "What is Iced Coffee," to the intricacies of preparation in "How to Make Iced Coffee." Check them out below

But today, let's embark on a special journey from the comfort of your kitchen to the vibrant streets of Saigon as we delve into the art of making Vietnamese coffee. Prepare your taste buds for a cultural and sensory experience like no other.

Stay tuned, sip in hand, as we navigate the stimulating sea of the coffee world together. Welcome to the exciting and ever-evolving Iced Coffee Series!

What is Vietnamese Iced Coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da)

vietnam coffee
Ca Phe Sua Da

A traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, also known as Ca Phe Sua Da, takes on the bold flavors of Vietnamese coffee beans, typically a blend of Robusta coffee beans and Arabica. Vietnamese Robusta beans, known for their strong flavor and high caffeine content, dominate the blend. The beans are usually dark-roasted and coarsely ground, resulting in a brew that's bold, slightly smoky, and wonderfully aromatic.

This drink takes on the bold flavors of dark roast coffee and pairs them with the sweet creaminess of condensed milk, served over a bed of ice to offer a chilling respite from the tropical heat.

cafe vietnamese
Sweetened Condensed Milk

The other crucial ingredient in Ca Phe Sua Da is sweetened condensed milk. A carryover from the French colonial period when fresh milk was scarce, condensed milk has a thick, syrup-like consistency and a rich, sweet flavor. In Vietnamese iced coffee, it's the magical component that balances the strong, robust coffee, resulting in a drink that hits the perfect harmony of bold and sweet.

This dynamic pairing of condensed milk and coffee highlights the importance of using the right kind of coffee beans. The selection of beans can greatly influence the overall flavor profile of the drink. Especially when we talk about Vietnamese coffee, a blend of robust, dark-roasted Robusta and Arabica beans is the popular choice. But for those interested in deep-diving into the world of espresso, we have a plethora of articles and guides in our Espresso Coffee Series.

Dive into 'The World of Espresso Coffee' to immerse yourself in the invigorating world of this cherished beverage. Unleash your inner barista with our detailed guides below:

Dive Into The World of Espresso Coffee
Immerse yourself in the invigorating world of espresso coffee with our specially curated selections. Unleash your inner barista with our guide on How to Make an Espresso, Coffee & Espresso Maker Combos, Espresso Coffee, Types of Espresso Beans

Vietnamese Coffee Brewing Techniques

vietnamese coffee iced
Vietnamese Coffee Brewing

Vietnamese coffee is not just about the ingredients, but also about the method of preparation.  The brewing process involves a unique piece of equipment known as a Vietnamese coffee filter or phin filter. This small metal cup, also referred to as a Vietnamese coffee press, is a traditional method of brewing Vietnamese coffee.

However, if you don't have a phin filter handy, you can also brew Vietnamese coffee using a French press, which is more widely available. Although the method of preparation slightly differs, you can still achieve a delicious Vietnamese iced coffee using this tool.

viet drip coffee
 Phin Filter

To use the phin filter, you first add your desired amount of condensed milk into the bottom of your glass. Then, place the phin on top of the glass and add your ground coffee. The coffee should be coarse enough to not fall through the holes of the phin but fine enough to not let water pass through too quickly.

Once you've added the coffee, gently press it down using the provided press, but do not tamp it tightly as you would with espresso. Pour just enough hot water into the phin to saturate the coffee, wait for about 20 seconds, and then fill the phin with water. Cover it with the lid and let your coffee slowly drip onto the condensed milk.

vietnam condensed milk coffee
Vietnamese Coffee Brewer

To achieve the best taste, be patient. A typical brew can take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes. If it drips too fast, you may need to adjust the amount of coffee or the tightness of the press. Too slow, and you may need to loosen the press a bit.

calories vietnamese iced coffee
Vietnamese Coffee

Alternatively, if you want to make Vietnamese coffee with an espresso machine, you can pull a shot of espresso instead of using the phin filter. This method offers a quicker way to make Vietnamese iced coffee and a stronger coffee flavor, though it might not be as traditional.

If you're curious about the world of coffee machines, you can dive deeper with our various blog posts. 'The World of Coffee Machines' is a detailed guide for anyone seeking to understand the intricate world of coffee brewing machines.

Dive Into The World of Coffee Machines
Discover more coffee bliss with our enticing Coffee Series: Coffee Maker with Grinder, Iced Coffee Makers, Small Coffee Makers, Coffee & Espresso Maker Combos & Manual Coffee Makers

No matter which method you use, remember that making Vietnamese iced coffee is not just about the end result—it's about the journey, the ritual, and the pleasure of creating a little piece of Vietnam in your own kitchen.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe with Condensed Milk (Ca Phe Sua Da)

vietnamese coffee condensed milk
Iced Vietnamese Coffee Recipe with Condensed Milk


  • 2 tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee grounds (preferably Robusta)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • Ice
  • Boiling water


  1. Add the sweetened condensed milk to the bottom of your coffee cup.
  2. Place the phin filter on top of the cup and add the ground coffee.
  3. Gently press the coffee down with the press, then pour a splash of hot water just to wet the coffee.
  4. After about 20 seconds, fill the filter chamber with hot water and cover it with the lid.
  5. Let the coffee drip for 4-6 minutes.
  6. Once the coffee has finished dripping, stir to mix the coffee with the condensed milk.
  7. Pour the mixture over a glass filled with ice cubes, stir and enjoy.

💡Top Tip:  For a twist on the traditional recipe, try using coconut condensed milk instead of regular condensed milk. The coconut flavor adds an extra layer of depth to the iced coffee and complements the strong taste of the Vietnamese coffee beans

Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung)

vietnam drip
Iced Vietnamese Coffee Recipe with Egg


  • 2 tablespoons of ground Vietnamese coffee
  • 1 fresh egg yolk
  • 2-3 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • Ice
  • Boiling water


  1. Brew the coffee as you would for Ca Phe Sua Da.
  2. While the coffee is brewing, whisk the egg yolk and condensed milk together until it becomes frothy and creamy.
  3. Pour the brewed coffee over ice, then top with the creamy egg mixture.
  4. Stir gently before drinking to mix the coffee with the egg topping.

💡Expert Tips: The egg and condensed milk mixture should be smooth and frothy. Make sure your egg is fresh for the best taste and texture.

Vietnamese Coffee with Boba (Bubble Coffee)

vietnam drip coffee
Iced Vietnamese Coffee Recipe with Boba


  • 2 tablespoons of ground Vietnamese coffee
  • 2-3 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of cooked boba pearls
  • Ice
  • Boiling water

💡Top Tip: To enhance the flavor, you can soak your boba pearls in a little brown sugar or honey before adding them to your coffee.


  1. Brew the coffee as you would for Ca Phe Sua Da.
  2. Add cooked boba pearls to a glass.
  3. Pour the brewed coffee and condensed milk mixture over the boba.
  4. Add ice, stir, and enjoy with a wide straw.

💡Pro Tip: For an exciting twist, replace the sweetened condensed milk with coconut condensed milk for a tropical touch to your bubble coffee.

Whether you opt for traditional Ca Phe Sua Da, unique Ca Phe Trung, or a playful bubble coffee, each version of Vietnamese iced coffee offers a unique and enjoyable experience that brings the taste of Vietnam right into your kitchen. Happy brewing!

The Best Tools for Making Authentic Vietnamese Coffee

I am passionate about coffee, particularly when it comes to traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Here are some of my top picks:

Vietnamese Coffee Filter

vietnamese iced coffee with instant coffee
Shop on Amazon: Vietnamese Coffee Filter

A key to crafting a cup of hot coffee that tastes as if it was served straight from the bustling coffee shops in the streets of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City is a Vietnamese coffee filter or phin. This tool is not only unique in its design but also in the purpose it serves. The phin comprises a round perforated plate, a brewing chamber, a press, and a cap. The press compactly fits inside the brewing chamber to slow the water drainage and therefore enhance the extraction of the coffee flavor.

For a good-quality Vietnamese coffee filter, consider brands like Trung Nguyen or Thang Long. Both offer sturdy stainless steel designs that will serve you for years while delivering excellent results.

Single Cup Vietnamese Coffee Maker

vietnamese drip coffee
Shop on Amazon: Single Cup Vietnamese Coffee Maker

Brewing Vietnamese coffee doesn't have to be an extensive process, especially with the help of a single-cup Vietnamese coffee maker. These compact devices are designed to brew a perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee in minutes, making it easy to enjoy your coffee ritual even on busy mornings.

Benefits include convenience, easy clean-up, and the perfect brew size for one. Brands such as AeroPress and Hamilton Beach offer excellent single-cup coffee makers that are versatile enough to brew a strong, flavorful Vietnamese-style coffee.

Copper Cow Pour Over Coffee

vietnamese coffee pour over
Shop on Amazon: Copper Cow Pour Over Coffee

For coffee lovers who are always on the move, the Copper Cow Coffee Kit is a dream come true. This kit includes everything you need to brew a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee, wherever you are.

The kit features individual packets of pre-ground Vietnamese coffee and sweetened condensed milk, and a portable pour-over filter. The advantages of this kit are manifold, including its convenience, ease of use, and the quality of the ingredients provided.

To use it, simply open the packet, hang the filter over your cup, add hot water, and let it drip. Then, stir in the sweetened condensed milk, and voila – you have a delicious cup of authentic Vietnamese coffee.

Whether you're a frequent traveler or just someone who enjoys convenience, this kit from Copper Cow Coffee ensures you'll never be without your beloved Vietnamese iced coffee, no matter where you are. All these tools, when used correctly, promise a beautiful, traditional cup of Vietnamese coffee that is sure to delight your senses.

How To Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee by Todd & Diane

Vietnamese Iced Coffee FAQ

What is Vietnamese coffee?

Vietnamese coffee is a strong and dark coffee that's often brewed with a small metal Vietnamese drip filter. It's typically served hot or iced, and is well-known for being paired with sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a beverage that is both strong and sweet.

What are the key differences and similarities when comparing Thai iced coffee vs Vietnamese coffee? 

Thai iced coffee and Vietnamese coffee are both delightful but they do differ in taste and preparation. Thai iced coffee is often brewed with cardamom and other spices, then combined with sugar and condensed milk, and served over ice. Vietnamese coffee is typically stronger, brewed with a dark roast coffee, and sweetened with condensed milk, but without the added spices.

What does Vietnamese coffee taste like?

Vietnamese coffee tastes bold and strong, with a pronounced dark roast flavor. When served with sweetened condensed milk, it strikes a balance between robust and sweet, resulting in a full-bodied, slightly chocolatey taste.

Can you make egg coffee in a drip coffee maker? 

Vietnamese egg coffee can be made using coffee brewed from a drip coffee maker. However, the unique frothy egg layer on top requires whisking raw egg yolks with sweetened condensed milk separately, which can't be accomplished in a drip coffee maker.

What is coffee with condensed milk called?

Coffee with condensed milk is most commonly known as Vietnamese iced coffee, or Ca Phe Sua Da in Vietnamese. If it's served hot, it's called Ca Phe Sua Nong.

What makes Vietnamese coffee different from other coffees?

Vietnamese coffee is different from other coffees primarily because of the beans and the brewing process. The coffee is made using robusta beans, which have a bolder, stronger flavor compared to the commonly used arabica beans. The brewing process involves a phin filter, a small metal drip filter that creates a concentrated, espresso-like coffee. Additionally, Vietnamese coffee is often served with sweetened condensed milk, which provides a unique sweetness to balance the strong coffee.

Final Thoughts

Diving into the world of Vietnamese Iced Coffee is akin to embarking on an enchanting journey. The destination? A unique coffee experience marked by bold flavors, rich aromas, and a wonderful balance of sweetness that'll delight your senses. Whether you're a long-time coffee lover or a curious newcomer, there's something genuinely special about savoring a cup of Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

Throughout this guide, we've ventured from Saigon to your kitchen, exploring the rich tradition of Vietnamese Iced Coffee. We've touched upon the significance of its unique ingredients like the robusta coffee beans and sweetened condensed milk. We've also explored its brewing techniques, which vary from using a traditional phin filter to the more common espresso machine.

So now, the adventure lies in your hands. Try brewing a cup of Vietnamese Iced Coffee at home. Experiment with different ingredients, adjust the coffee-to-condensed-milk ratio to suit your preference, and who knows, you may even discover your new favorite coffee ritual!

We invite you to immerse yourself in the culture and tradition of Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Sip it slowly, enjoy it fully, and remember, every cup you brew carries with it a piece of Vietnamese history.

And don't forget, we'd love to hear about your Vietnamese Iced Coffee experiences. Feel free to share your brewing stories, your unique tweaks to the traditional recipe, or simply your thoughts on this incredible coffee drink. Here's to many delightful coffee moments ahead.


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