How to Make Perfect Vietnamese Iced Coffee at Home

Joshua Allerton
February 21, 2024

If you're a coffee enthusiast on the hunt for a refreshing twist, Vietnamese iced coffee, also known as cà phê đá, is your next must-try. It's a bold, sweet, and creamy concoction that's not only a staple in Vietnam but has won hearts worldwide. I've been making this delightful beverage at home for years, and I'm here to show you how easy it is to recreate this coffee shop favourite in your own kitchen.

With just a few simple ingredients and minimal equipment, you'll be sipping on this indulgent treat in no time. Say goodbye to your local coffee shop runs and hello to mastering the art of Vietnamese iced coffee. Let's dive into the simple steps to bring this aromatic and rich coffee experience to your home.

Overview of Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê đá, is more than just a beverage; it's a ritual that captures the essence of Vietnamese coffee culture. Known for its bold flavour, sweet undertones, and creamy texture, this drink has won the hearts of coffee enthusiasts around the globe. What sets it apart is the use of condensed milk, offering a unique sweetness that balances perfectly with the intense coffee, and the slow-drip brewing method, which ensures a full extraction of the coffee's rich flavours.

Making Vietnamese iced coffee at home is surprisingly straightforward, and one doesn't need to be a barista to get it right. Here's how I do it, with some simple steps that guarantee a delicious result:

  1. Find the Right Coffee:
  • Robusta beans are traditional, but any strong, dark roast will do.
  1. Gather Your Equipment:
  • A Vietnamese coffee press (phin), a glass, and a spoon.
  1. Brew the Coffee:
  • Add 2 tablespoons of coffee to the press.
  • Place the press over your glass.
  • Pour a small amount of hot water to let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds.
  • Fill the press with more hot water and cover it. The coffee will slowly drip over several minutes.
  1. Add Condensed Milk:
  • While the coffee is brewing, add 2-3 tablespoons of condensed milk to your glass, depending on your desired sweetness.
  1. Mix and Ice:
  • Once the coffee has finished dripping, stir it thoroughly with the condensed milk.
  • Add a generous amount of ice and stir again.

The joy of making Vietnamese iced coffee lies in its simplicity and the personal touch one can add. Adjusting the amount of coffee or condensed milk allows for a tailor-made experience that caters to individual taste. Adopting this brewing method not only brings the rich, aromatic world of Vietnamese coffee into one's home but also offers a moment of tranquillity in the midst of a busy day.

Ingredients Needed

When I'm brewing up a batch of Vietnamese iced coffee at home, I make sure I've got all my ingredients lined out on the counter. It's all about the simplicity and authenticity of the components that bring this beloved beverage to life. Here's a quick list you'll need to follow along:

  • Robusta coffee beans: Ideally, you want to use coarsely ground coffee to ensure that full, rich flavour that's characteristic of Vietnamese coffee. Robusta beans are your go-to because of their strong, slightly bitter flavour which complements the sweetness of the condensed milk perfectly.
  • Condensed milk: This is the sweet, creamy heart of the beverage. A few tablespoons per glass, depending on how sweet you like your coffee, will do the trick.
  • Hot water: Essential for brewing, of course. The temperature should be about 195-205°F (90-96°C) for optimal extraction.
  • Ice cubes: To chill the coffee and add that refreshing cold coffee experience.

Now that we've got our ingredients laid out, let's dive into how to piece them all together to create the perfect cup of Vietnamese iced coffee.

  1. Start with 2-3 tablespoons of coarsely ground Robusta coffee in the Vietnamese coffee press.
  2. Place the press over your cup and tighten the press slightly. Not too tight, as you want the water to drip through slowly.
  3. Pour in enough hot water to fill the chamber and cover with the lid. Allow the coffee to brew and drip into your cup. This should take about 4 minutes.
  4. Once the coffee has dripped through, stir in 1-3 tablespoons of condensed milk, depending on how sweet you like it.
  5. Fill a glass with ice cubes to the top and pour the coffee-condensed milk mixture over it.

And that's it! The perfect Vietnamese iced coffee is all about the balance between the bold, robust coffee and the sweet, creamy condensed milk, served chilled for a refreshing twist. With the right ingredients and a bit of patience during the brewing process, you can bring a taste of Vietnam into your home any day.

Equipment Required

To bring the authentic taste of Vietnamese iced coffee into your kitchen, you'll need a specific set of equipment. It's not just about having a coffee maker. The traditional method involves a unique brewing tool that's central to the process. I'll walk you through everything you need, ensuring you're well-prepared to create this delightful beverage.

First and foremost, let's talk about the Vietnamese coffee press, also known as a Phin. This small, metal brewer sits right on top of your cup and is the cornerstone of brewing authentic Vietnamese coffee. Its design allows for a slow drip, which is critical to achieving the concentrated flavour that makes this coffee so special.

Next, you'll want to have a sturdy, heat-resistant glass or mug. Once the coffee starts dripping, it's essential to have a reliable container that can handle the heat without cracking. Plus, you'll be mixing in sweetened condensed milk, so room for stirring is a must.

You should also have the following at hand:

  • A kettle or a saucepan to heat water. The water needs to be just off the boil when you pour it over the coffee grounds in the Phin.
  • A spoon or a stirrer for mixing the coffee with condensed milk, ensuring a smooth blend.
  • A measuring spoon for the coffee. The right amount of coffee makes all the difference, so precision here is key.

Finally, don't forget the ice! You'll need a good amount of ice cubes to transform your coffee concoction into a refreshing, chilled drink. A regular ice tray from your freezer should do the job perfectly.

With these tools in place, you're all set to start brewing Vietnamese iced coffee. Each piece of equipment plays a pivotal role in the creation process, ensuring you get that authentic taste and experience right in your home. Now, let's move on to the actual brewing and assembling of your coffee, step by step.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Making Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê đá, is straightforward once you've got your equipment ready. Here's how I do it, ensuring bold flavours and a refreshing outcome every time.

  1. Prep Your Coffee Press (Phin)
  • I start by placing the Phin over my heat-resistant glass. It's essential the glass can withstand the temperature because this will directly affect the brewing quality.
  1. Add Coffee
  • Using a measuring spoon, I add about 2-3 tablespoons of ground Vietnamese coffee into the Phin. The amount depends on how strong you like your coffee. For me, a medium grind works best, offering the perfect balance between strength and flavour.
  1. Bloom the Coffee
  • Next, pour a small amount of hot water (just off the boil) into the Phin to pre-wet the grounds. This step, called blooming, allows the coffee to expand for better water flow. I wait about 30 seconds before proceeding.
  1. Brew
  • After blooming, I fill the Phin with hot water to the top and cover it with the lid. The water should drip slowly, taking about 4 minutes to complete. If it's too fast, the coffee grounds are too coarse; if too slow, they're too fine.
  1. Prepare the Glass
  • While the coffee is brewing, I add 2-3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a new glass. The amount of condensed milk can be adjusted according to taste.
  1. Combine and Enjoy
  • Once the coffee has fully dripped through, I pour the hot coffee into the glass with condensed milk. Stirring well to combine, I then add a generous amount of ice cubes and stir again until it's cool and refreshing.

Throughout this process, it's essential to keep an eye on the drip rate and adjust the amount of coffee or water as needed. The goal is to create a smooth blend that suits your taste perfectly. With each step, I find myself closer to enjoying a delightful glass of Vietnamese iced coffee, just as if I were sitting in a café in Hanoi.

Tips for Perfecting Your Vietnamese Iced Coffee

When I first tried my hand at making Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê đá, at home, it quickly became clear that a few tricks could elevate the experience from good to extraordinary. Here's what I've learned along the way to help you perfect your own brew.

Use Quality Ingredients

First and foremost, the choice of coffee plays a pivotal role in the final outcome.

  • Robusta beans are the traditional choice, offering a stronger, more robust flavour compared to Arabica beans.
  • Ensure your sweetened condensed milk is of good quality, as this significantly impacts the drink’s creamy sweetness.

Nail the Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Achieving the perfect balance between the coffee and water is crucial. Typically, I use about:

Ice CubesTo Taste
Condensed Milk2-3 Tablespoons

This ratio ensures a strong coffee that perfectly complements the sweetened condensed milk without becoming too diluted when the ice is added.

Adjust Your Drip Rate

Adjusting the drip rate of your Phin is another critical aspect. If your coffee drips too slowly, it might over-extract, leading to bitterness. Too fast, and you'll miss out on the depth of flavour. Aim for a drip rate that completes the process in about 4-5 minutes.

Pre-rinse Your Phin

Before adding your coffee, it’s a good idea to pre-rinse the Phin filter with hot water. This not only helps to clean it but also warms the metal, which can help maintain a more consistent brewing temperature.


Crafting the perfect Vietnamese iced coffee, or cà phê đá, at home is more than just a recipe—it's an art. By focusing on quality ingredients and mastering the brewing process, you're set to enjoy this delightful beverage any time. Remember, the key lies in the balance between the robustness of the Robusta beans and the creamy sweetness of the condensed milk. And don't forget, adjusting your Phin's drip rate can make all the difference in achieving that flawless flavour. So, grab your Phin and let's make every sip of your Vietnamese iced coffee a testament to your brewing skills.

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