Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Coffee on Crack!

Condensed milk is wonderful. I don’t see how they can get a cow to sit down on those little cans.

~ Fred Allen

Last night I tried my hand for the first time on how to make Vietnamese Coffee. I say it’s coffee on crack because it definitely delivers a zing even the extreme coffee addicts can feel. Anthony Bourdain once exclaimed, “That kicks the shit out of Starbucks!” Dude’s right. So what is Vietnamese coffee (Ca phe sua da/cà phê sữa đá)? Simply stated, it’s brewed coffee (Cafe Du Monde is the widely accepted brand of French coffee used for Vietnamese coffee) mixed with a generous helping of sweetened condensed milk. It is then iced and served.

There is a special Vietnamese coffee press contraption that is a convenient minuscule size. (You can bring it camping!) I stole the spare one from my parents but anyone can grab it at any Asian market. Here’s a very rough recipe.

– sweetened condensed milk (eyeball it)
– 2 tablespoons of Cafe du Monde coffee grounds
– hot/bolling water
– clear glass (one of life’s little joys is appreciating the pretty swirls when you mix milk and coffee)


1. Unscrew the filter from the coffee press. Put in approximately 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds.

Vietnamese Coffee

2. Screw the filter back on.
3. Pour a little condensed milk (approximately a quarter ratio to the amount of coffee you want) into a clear glass.

Vietnamese Coffee

This is my first time experimenting with proportions. I followed a recipe that said 2 tablespoons condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of grounds, and 8 ounces of hot water. Next time, I’m going to increase the condensed milk and eyeball it to it’s a little less than a quarter cup. Definitely too bitter for me this morning!

5. Place the coffee press on top of the glass with the condensed milk.

6. Pour boiling/hot water into the press, fill it all the way up. You can adjust the drip by loosening or tightening the filter. The slower the drip the stronger the coffee. Repeat this step if you want to add more brewed coffee.

This is what it looks like as it drips.

5. Once done, mix, enjoy the swirls, and put on ice! I prepared the coffee without ice and put it in the fridge for this morning. Next time I definitely need to put more condensed milk. I’m feeling wired and haven’t even finished all my coffee yet!

P.S. I also added a few boba pearls (left over from an bubble tea experiment gone awry) all I did was soften the balls with hot water and added them to my iced coffee.

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