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How to make Vietnamese iced coffee

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What do you need to make Vietnamese iced coffee?

Coffee lovers are always searching for a new and exciting way to enjoy their joe, and one traditional drink from Southeast Asia is hitting coffee shops around the United States. Vietnamese coffee also called cà phê đá or cà phê sữa đá when iced, is a traditional type of coffee drink with a unique preparation and flavor. You can enjoy it hot or iced, making it the perfect drink for any time of day or year. Best of all, it’s easy to make by both amateurs and professional baristas alike, so prepare yourself to make delicious Vietnamese iced coffee all summer long.

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What is Vietnamese iced coffee?

Since its introduction in the 1800s, coffee has played an integral part of Vietnam’s culture and economy, becoming a staple in everyday life. Because of the tropical climate, the country’s signature is to serve the drink over ice. There are a few ways Vietnamese iced coffee stands out from other beverages. It’s made with dark roast coffee, leaning heavily on the bitter end of the flavor spectrum, and is then diluted and sweetened with sweet condensed milk. The combination of bitter and sweet creates a unique drink with a smooth mouthfeel that keeps you cool, caffeinated and satisfied.

A critical component is the preparation method. Rather than preparing iced coffee by the batch ahead of time, Vietnamese coffee is made by the cup using manual brewing methods. That means forgoing your usual coffee brewers and becoming comfortable making coffee more hands-on. To brew the coffee, you use a phin, a hybrid brewer combining pour-over and French press methods to create a robust, earthy and complex-tasting cup.

What you need to make Vietnamese iced coffee

  • Ground coffee or whole bean coffee and a manual grinder
  • An electric kettle or stovetop kettle and a timer
  • Sweetened condensed milk, preferably transferred into a squeeze bottle
  • Small measuring cup and mixing spoon
  • A phin brewing set or a French press
  • Proper glassware and fresh ice

How to make Vietnamese iced coffee

  • To prepare, measure 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk and add it to the bottom of the glass or ceramic cup you’re using to brew the coffee.
  • Grind coffee on a medium-coarse setting until you have a little more than 10 grams, or enough for 2 tablespoons with a small amount leftover. Add it to the bottom of your phin coffee press, where it should evenly top the bottom filter.
  • Place the phin on top of your glass with condensed milk at the bottom.
  • Using an electric or stovetop kettle, heat 10 ounces of water to 200 degrees. Once ready, pour a small amount of water onto the grounds to “bloom” the coffee. Try to keep your water at 200 degrees.

2 Pack Digital Kitchen Timer

Attach the filter top and screw it in snugly. It should press down onto the top of your wet grounds. Set a timer for between 3-5 minutes. Do less time if you want a milder coffee or more time for a stronger brew. Don’t steep the grounds for longer than 5 minutes, or your coffee will be too bitter.

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  • Fill the phin with 200-degree water and start your timer. Your coffee will drip slowly into the cup of condensed milk, forming an attractive layering effect.

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  • Using a thin mixing spoon or another device to stir the coffee and condensed milk until the two are fully incorporated.

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  • Top your glass off with ice, garnish the top with a light sprinkle of coffee grounds and enjoy.

What you need to make Vietnamese iced coffee

Vietnamese Phin Coffee Maker Set

This stainless steel set is high quality and highly affordable, proving that you don’t have to break the bank to make delicious Vietnamese coffee drinks.

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MITBAK Manual Coffee Grinder

A manual coffee grinder is smaller and more convenient than an electric grinder, plus it’s great for producing more coarse coffee grounds. Since you only need a small amount of ground coffee for each cup of Vietnamese iced coffee, a small hand-grinder ensures freshness.

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Zwilling J.A. Henckels Sorrento Double-Wall Coffee Glasses

Double-wall coffee glasses help retain the heat of your beverage without burning your fingers, and this set is sleek and small enough to make sipping visually appealing as well.

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Truegrit Whole Peaberry Robusta Whole Bean Coffee

Nguyen Coffee Supply is an innovative Vietnamese-American-owned coffee importer and roaster, bringing fresh green coffee from Asia to Brooklyn for a modern-yet-traditional brew. This roast features dry and smoky aromas and flavors that pair perfectly with condensed milk.

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FIFO Refillable Squeeze Bottle

Condensed milk is difficult to handle unless you have a solid squeeze bottle to help dispense it. A small measuring glass goes hand-in-hand to keep your ratios spot-on.

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Black & White Sweetened Condensed Milk

Although any sweetened condensed milk will do, Black & White is a Hong Kong-based brand that is popular for making Vietnamese iced coffee and traditional Hong Kong-style milk tea.

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Willsence Electric Gooseneck Water Kettle

This all-in-one electric kettle, with temperature control and timer, is an excellent tool for making all sorts of manual coffee drinks, like pour-overs or French press, in addition to traditional cà phê sữa đá.

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Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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