In Vietnam, coffee, whether it is brewed and served at home or in restaurants, is brewed leisurely. Hot coffee (cafe nong) is preferred in the morning, while iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá) is saved for the heat later in the day.
I was talking to my Dad about coffee and he was reminiscing about cups from the past. This man loves his cup of joe.
He’s completely happy here in the States, but has an incredibly fond memory of his life in Vietnam. “There was nothing like escaping from the rain–running into a coffee shop with a lightly damp raincoat. I can immensely enjoy a cup in that kind of atmosphere.”
Although we Vietnamese “owe” the availability of ingredients for this coffee to French colonization, this creation is Vietnamese. Vietnamese coffee is uniquely characterized by a combination of French roast coffee dripped through a Vietnamese coffee filter mixed with condensed milk.
French roast pairs exceptionally well with condensed milk. The Vietnamese coffee filter gives a stronger brew than that of an American drip machine and different than that of a French press.
Any French roast can be used, but the most popular brands for Vietnamese coffee I’ve seen are Cafe Du Monde, Cafe’de Paris, and Trung Nguyen. For this recipe, we’re going to stick with Cafe Du Monde.
Notice that Cafe Du Monde isn’t pure coffee! This grind is laced with the ground root of the chicory herb. This mixture originated in Europe during WWII when money was tight and expensive foods like coffee needed to last. Chicory root was used to stretch the coffee supply. After the war, the preference for the chicory flavor became a trend and exists even today.
- Start by boiling some water. An electric kettle makes it a lot faster. I'm lucky my tea-loving roommate left it behind when she went back to Australia. I would have never thought to purchase one, but it I'm glad I have it!
- Remove the metal filter and pour in 1 heaping tablespoon of Cafe Du Monde (about 4 teaspoons). I love the smell of coffee!
- Twist the filter on gently until it just starts to stop. Then turn it little more, a bit less than ⅛ a turn.
- If you wanted to drink this hot instead, you can put the brewing cup in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water. For this recipe, we're going to stick with the iced version.
- Ideally you want to add the condensed milk to the cup before brewing because the boiling water actually cooks it. It does have a slight affect on the flavor. For this recipe we'll add it after since most readers probably don't know how much condensed milk they want.
- To brew, pour a tiny bit of water in the filter just to wet the grind and to let the grind expand a bit. Also this will help rid of some small grinds that happen to make it through the filter. You can toss it out if you see any.
- Then go ahead and fill the filter all the way and let it drip. Ideal brewing time comes to about 3 to 5 minutes so adjust the filter accordingly. Too loose and you'll just have runny brown water. Too tight and nothing will drip through. The filter will be hot, so use a fork or another utensil to adjust the filter. Place the cap on and watch the coffee drip!
- For condensed milk, I prefer Longevity Brand - Sua Ong Tho, because of the sweet graphic. :)
- Personally, I like it a little bitter. About 1 teaspoon of condensed milk does it for me. If you like it sweeter add 2 or 3 teaspoons.
- Pour the brew into a glass filled with ice and serve. Now make some for your coffee loving buddies!