Vietnamese iced coffee – a how-to guide with tips, tricks, and step-by-step instructions
For coffee lovers around the world, the search for perfection is endless. There are so many flavors and styles out there just waiting to be tried, tasted or discovered. And Vietnamese iced coffee is one such coffee brew you need to taste to expand your coffee experience, so this how-to brewing guide will show you just that!
And the good thing is, you don’t even have to expensive equipment for fancy coffee brewers to get it done at home
You might be hearing about it just now, but Vietnamese iced coffee has been around for some time. Naturally, it is trendy in Vietnam, its country of origin, but coffee lovers around the globe enjoy it for its unique taste for decades.
What makes it different from the coffee you are likely used to – the strength of the beverage, and it is always made with a dairy product on the side.
Perhaps, one reason it is so prevalent in Vietnam is that of the hot weather. The iced coffee would cool you down in that tropical furnace. Or maybe, the Vietnamese love grew for the unique taste of coffee and milk blended.
What is Vietnamese Iced coffee?
“Cà phê đá” is the name of iced coffee in Vietnam. It means, yep – you guessed it, iced coffee.
The coffee beverage is known as “Vietnamese iced coffee” is a cocktail of coffee (preferably arabica coffee), sweetened condensed milk and ice cubes in a glass or mug.
How is it brewed?
Many are interested in a Vietnamese iced coffee brewing guide, so we obliged. It is brewed using a unique coffee press known as Phin. Around the world, the Phin is known as Vietnamese coffee press or Vietnamese coffee filter.
The Phin can be found in most online stores, and it is very cheap. It should not cost more than $10 for the basic or standard version.
The Vietnamese coffee press is designed to fit over a suitable mug or cup. It can take about two tablespoons of coffee in the main chamber. Then, the required amount of hot water is added to the coffee for brewing.
A typical Phin has two filters. One is at the bottom of the coffee press, and the other is attached to a plunger. The plunger pushes down on its filter to compress the coffee inside. Essentially, the coffee is trapped between the two filters during brewing.
The plunger regulates the strength of the coffee. If you want a solid brew, you’d need to screw down the plunger real tight to make the water flows slowly through the coffee grounds.
If you can’t get hold of the Phin for some reason, you can use a French press. It works just as well as long as you get the necessary ingredients right.
And the taste? For starters, it is delicious if you love your coffee with sweetened milk. The taste is closer to a well-made coffee ice cream than anything else.
Because the coffee is icily chilled, the bitter taste and other flavors associated with excellent coffee are tempered. At the same time, the chill enhances the nutty, chocolatey, roasted notes of the coffee.
How to make Vietnamese Iced Coffee
If you already have regular coffee ingredients at hand, all you need is the press. So order one online or ask around in malls around town. It’s not hard to find especially in stores that specialize in Chinese and Oriental goods and stuff.
- Medium or dark roast coffee
- 2 Glass cups or Mugs
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Boiling water
- Lots of ice cubes
- Pour some of the condensed milk in the glass cup. How much milk you use depends on the amount of coffee you brew. Generally, the coffee to milk ratio is 50:50.
But you can play around with the mix until you get your preferred combination.
- Pour two tablespoons of your ground coffee into the Phin.
- Screw the top filter down into the pot using the plunger. If the threads on the filter don’t engage, it is likely you poured in a bit too much coffee.
The rate of brew would depend on how tight the top filter is. It is an inverse relationship. The tighter you screw the top filter, the slower the brewing time and vice versa.
- Place the Phin on top of your glass or mug
- Add the boiling or just very hot water. The perfect temperature is about 94 degrees Celsius or 202 degrees Fahrenheit.
In practical terms, that temperature means the water is about to boil. So the best way is to get your water to boiling. Then allow it to sit and cool for a couple of minutes.
- Cover the Phin with the lid and let the coffee drip into your glass. Remove the glass when the dripping stops. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Add your sweetened condensed milk and stir very well.
Alternatively, you could allow the coffee to drip directly onto the milk in the glass cup or mug.
- Then pour the mixture into the second glass cup or mug filled with your ice cubes and stir.
If you want your coffee sweeter and creamier, you can add more of the sweetened condensed milk.
To achieve perfection in the brewing of Vietnamese iced coffee, the smart choice is to use a fresh medium to dark roast whole coffee beans and grind them yourself. A coarse grind is the best.
To reduce the amount of sediment in the coffee, tap the main chamber of the Phin lightly on the table to shake out dust and other small particles from the coffee grounds.
To get very strong coffee, screw down the top filter real tight. And if you want your coffee weak, screw it down loose.
Make sure the Phin stops dripping before removing it. This allows the coffee to further cool down before being added to the ice.
Ensure you always add milk to the coffee before adding ice
If the sequence is altered, the milk won’t dissolve properly, and you’d end up with a brew with somewhat uneven coffee.
Here is a cute guide from the Emmy League of Adventuresome Eaters.
So there you have it — a straightforward, comprehensive Vietnamese iced coffee brewing guide on how to make Vietnamese iced coffee right in the comfort of your kitchen. This is a very simple process that even a novice could attempt successfully.
And it doesn’t cost much as long as you have most of the ingredients at home.
Give it a try. At least you’d have expanded your coffee repertoire to include this strong, sweet, coolly refreshing beverage all the way from Vietnam. This is a drink for all those hot summer days.
Don’t forget though that Vietnamese Iced coffee is really strong. So be careful during brewing not to make it too strong especially if you have a medical condition that precludes drinking strong coffee.