Vietnamese Drip Coffee / càfê sữa đá

Oh about 100% of the Vietnamese folks reading this post are rolling their eyes. Stands to reason if you were raised in a Vietnamese family and have been overexposed to dark French roast coffee dripping through a small phin (filter) onto rich condensed milk and served with crushed ice. However, it dawned on me when my friend Brian asked me to show him how to make it, was when I realized not everyone grew up drinking it. It wasn’t the most exciting thing for me to make, I grew up drinking this stuff but I showed him how and it was genuinely bizarre to watch someone else become enthralled by the technicality of this coffee drink whose characteristics would’ve never seemed technical to me if I didn’t have to measure it to teach someone else. People describe càfê sữa đá as buttery and rich. It’s so strong for such a short cup of coffee. I’m sharing this post for my non-Vietnamese comrades or coffee enthusiasts. Some things to keep in mind: Using an authentic Vietnamese phin/drip and good french roast is quintessential to making this type of coffee.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small Vietnamese phin/drip
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons French roast grounded coffee
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of condensed milk
  • a teacup or glass cup that fits the phin
  • a separate glass of ice

1. This is what the phin/drip looks like. It’s got 3 parts: The filter chamber, the filter, and the lid.

2. First remove the filter from the filter chamber and add the coffee grounds. Screw the filter back on but not too tight since this makes the coffee drip too slow and you’ll end up with cooled water and tasteless coffee. In the small cup or glass, add condensed milk.

3. Place the phin over the cup of condensed milk. Slowly pour the super hot boiling water to the top of the phin. Cover the phin with the lid. Allow coffee to drip completely.

4. Once coffee has finished, stir well to mix the milk and coffee together. Pour over a glass of ice and enjoy.

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