Vietnamese Iced Coffee ~ Ca Phe Sua Da

This Vietnamese iced coffee, or ca phe sua da, is made with sweetened condensed milk and strongly brewed coffee or espresso. Irresistible any time of day. Here’s how to make it at home.

A glass of Vietnamese iced coffee, made with layers of sweetened condensed milk, coffee, and ice cubes with a coffee drip over it.

You’ll encounter Vietnamese iced coffee at restaurants and street stalls throughout Southeast Asia. And, increasingly, in the states. The moment you first encounter it, wherever you are, you’re going to have an irrepressible desire to know how to make it at home. Keep in mind, it calls for a little patience in its preparation and a little pageantry in its presentation. The preferred cuppa is bracingly strongly brewed coffee, preferably made in an individual Vietnamese coffee filter* which forces boiling water to slowly, slowly drip through the grounds. But you can stir a little gooey sweet goodness into any strongly brewed iced coffee or espresso, regardless of whether it’s hot-brewed, cold-brewed, or Vietnamese-brewed. And then succumb to its seductive charms.–Renee Schettler

Vietnamese Iced Coffee | Ca Phe Sua Da

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 5 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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In each of 4 tall glasses, place 3 or 4 ice cubes.

In each of 4 small cups, pour 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk and top off each cup with the coffee.

Set a tall glass of ice cubes and a small cup of coffee in front of each person. Give everyone a spoon, preferably long-handled. Instruct everyone to stir the coffee thoroughly to dissolve the sweetened condensed milk.

Then instruct everyone to place the spoon in the tall glass and pour the coffee over the back of the spoon. (Pouring the coffee onto the metal prevents the hot liquid from shattering the glass.) Stir briskly. Sip slowly. Originally published July 31, 2011.

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    How Do You Make A Vietnamese Coffee With The Filter-and-Drip Technique? (note: as in the photo featured above)

    • Any strongly brewed coffee will work. But for the classic ca phe sua da experience, place 3 or 4 ice cubes in each of 4 squat glasses. Pour 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk in each glass. Place a small Vietnamese metal coffee filter (available at Asian markets or online) or a camping coffee filter (available at IKEA or REI or online) on top of each glass, fill it with a heaping tablespoon ground coffee or espresso, and pour in enough almost-boiling water to nearly reach the rim of the filter. Place the lid of the filter in place. Now wait. The coffee ought to drip, rather than stream, through the filter, taking anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Stay patient. Let it be a moment of zen for you. When done, remove the filter from the glass and stir briskly. Sip slowly.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Since I usually drink my coffee, whether hot or cold, black without sugar, I wasn’t so sure I’d like this. Boy, was I wrong! It’s creamy, sweet, and rich without the heaviness of cream. What a delight. It’s the perfect sweet pick-me-up treat to cool off with.

    And making a small ritual out of serving the coffee separately from the ice and having your guests blend the two at the table is fun.

    This tastes better than the so-called iced coffees from the various chains out there. It’s very easy to make and extremely delicious. It’s also excellent hot or cold, however, nothing beats it cold with lots of ice on a hot day. Better than iced tea, in my opinion!

    I’ll continue to make this regularly.


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    1. You can make a dynamite ice cream based on Cafe Sua Da. It takes some do-ing to get the proportions of sugar and condensed milk correct to give the right texture (scoopable, not too soft). Provides quite the post-meal jolt. 🙂

        1. I lost the original recipe I created for this, and subsequent attempts didn’t have quite the right consistency–too hard to scoop, too sugary to set up. It’s basically a custard base but using sweetened condensed milk for both sugar and cream. I also recall that trying to filter out all the Cafe Du Monde grounds from the steeping was a pain, since the liquid is so thick–lots of cheesecloth, IIRC. Here are my last notes, but I have to caveat that you’ll probably have to tweak the proportions.

          If you try it, do post your proportions and how it came out. Thanks!

          1. Hey, Chris, many, many thanks. Greatly appreciate it. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to quite replicate something. And anyone else who tries it, please let us know what you think and what you may have tweaked!

    2. It was fun to see the Ca Phe article today. I think folks should go to an Asian market and look for the brewers and whle there buy a bag of Trung Nguyen coffee THEN one will have the true Vietnamese experience.
      Sometimes the instructions for the brewer are only in Vietnamese so save the article !!
      I have used the Trung Nguyen coffee in my ADM and it works well. If I ever get a Technivorn I will try it in that.

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