Vietnamese Hot Coffee – Camp Drinking

by White on Rice Couple on July 16, 2009

vietnamese coffee

I’m an addict and I don’t care.

It’s not that I can’t go anywhere without having my daily, tasty coffee.  It is just that I don’t want to.  Headaches aren’t an issue, nor do I get all that grumpy without a morning hit of caffeine, however my morning coffees provide a brief moment of calm bliss.  Sanctuary lies in a cappuccino with a perfect, velvety foam, Vietnamese coffees (hot or cold – ca phe sau da or ca phe sua nong), or a simple espresso (maybe topped with a dollop of whipped cream.)

They each have the textures, taste, and calming fortitude to embed a bit of sanity in my soul.  A day without one of them is akin to wandering through a crowd and never seeing a smile.

vietnamese coffee

Now that we are on the road and in the mountains, the espresso fixes are a more complicated affair. However the Vietnamese coffee (particularly ca phe sua nong – Vietnamese Hot Coffee w/ milk) are as simple as ever.  Pack a filter, grab sweetened condensed milk, grind some coffee, and bring a cup and one now has all they need to prepare delicious soul sanity.  Don’t forget the stove to heat up the water as well.

Since the Vietnamese coffee filters are so small, they work beautifully for backcountry camping as well as the more common car camping accommodations. The minimal extra volume and weight are well worth their space in the pack. The sweetened condensed milk doesn’t need refrigeration, although it does help to repack the sweetened condensed milk from it’s original can into in a small Nalgene or other well sealing container. The coffee, a nice robust coffee (I tend to go for a Yirgacheffe roasted to a nice caramel brown from a couple of our great roasters down in So Cal.), blended coarsely then thrown into a zip lock is all that is required.

vietnamese coffee

With my Vietnamese Ca Phe Sua Nong set-up (Vietnamese Hot Coffee w/ milk), morning camp has never been so nice.  The clean, crisp morning air, cold hands ritualistically preparing my morning luxury, then wrapping hands, heart, and soul around that morning cup of Vietnamese coffee, steam wrapping itself around my like the mists of Avalon. I’m happy.

Now, back to enjoying the great outdoors. We’re taking the pups on a big, lots of creek crossing, hike today!

Todd

More Vietnamese Hot Coffee or Vietnamese Iced Coffee info:

Ca Phe Sua Nong (Vietnamese Hot Coffee) Recipe- Camping Style

Yield: 1 Serving

Although I'm writing this recipe from my recent camping perspective, this recipe can easily be duplicated in the home kitchen. Also, normally when you're camping, you usually don't have access to ice. But if you do have ice, toss some cubes in the cup and you have a  Vietnamese Iced Coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 T Coarse Ground Coffee (use a strong roast suitable for espresso, the grind the same as for a french press)
  • 2 T Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Hot Water (almost to a boil)
  • Vietnamese Coffee Filter
  • Small pan to use as a bain marie

Directions:

  1. Begin heating up some water on the camp stove (Whisperlite International is our stove of choice.  It still f#%!ing rocks after all these years.)
  2. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a camping mug.
  3. Remove the top screen from the coffee filter. Put the ground coffee in the filter, screw screen back on, compacting the grounds. Place filter on the mug with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour just enough hot water to cover the grounds and let sit for 30 sec.
  4. Loosen the filter screen screw at least 2 full rotations. Pour hot water to top of filter, cover and let sit until water has gone all the way through filter. (should be @ 5 min. at a rate of 3-4 drips/sec. If it is faster, coffees grind is too coarse. If slower, coffees grind is too fine. But by now you are in the boonies. Don't worry about it and fix the grind for next time.  It'll still be tasty.)
  5. When the water is all the way through the filter, stir up the coffee and sweetened condensed milk to combine, place mug in a pan with about a 1/2" of water in the pan to use as a bain marie (hot water bath), and bring water to a boil over camp stove.  Boil for a minute or so, or until ca phe sua nong is the temperature you like to drink.  Enjoy.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) July 16, 2009 at 3:59 am

Todd, that could be me, sitting on a stump, bundled up and barefoot, with my first cup of camp coffee of the morning. It’s not about the addiction to coffee, but addiction to the ritual, which is the best part of camping: the foods you cook, the way you pitch your tent, the style of campfire you like to build. All of that builds memories, and morning camp coffee is an important part of the memory.

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2 Phoo-D July 16, 2009 at 4:39 am

That was us a few weeks ago! No matter how light our packs there is always room for coffee. We have a single cup coffee press that usually comes along, but I like your idea of a Vietnamese coffee filter. That looks like it would work perfectly! Enjoy the fresh air!

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3 Simone (junglefrog) July 16, 2009 at 7:14 am

I should get one of those vietnamese coffee filters! I could easily do without coffee for a short period but my guy is seriously grumpy when he does not get a good cup of coffee. Mind you not just any coffee! He will only settle for good coffee, which can sometimes be a real challenge when we’re travelling. This might just be the perfect thing to bring along!

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4 Veron July 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

I am useless in the morning without coffee. I don’t make mine in the morning though…have to kick the “Hungry” Hubby outta bed for that. And then I sit there like a zombie behind the counter until I get my first sip.

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5 Sarah July 16, 2009 at 8:53 am

Now there’s a camping innovation I can use– vastly superior to those nasty Folgers tea bags, or instant!

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6 Katie July 16, 2009 at 8:56 am

Do you think I can make decaf Vietnamese coffee by coarse grinding decaf espresso? I really miss my ca phe sua da since the cardiologist said no more caffeine…

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7 Katerina July 16, 2009 at 9:36 am

My boyfriend loves these things I am defintley going to pick up one in time for Xmas.

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8 matt July 16, 2009 at 9:37 am

The best coffee I have ever drunk in the US was made by Todd. So jealous. Looks like a fantastic setting. Awesome photos guys.

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9 Leah July 16, 2009 at 9:38 am

Damn, where were you when we were in the backcountry last week? I so wanted to enjoy that pristine Sierra lake whilst sipping on a steaming cup of Joe. Thanks for the recipe. Welcome home. Next time we’re going backpacking with you. :)

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10 Kristina July 16, 2009 at 9:50 am

Just bought 4 of those filters on the street in Saigon yesterday! Plus bought a bunch of coffee to bring home with us. I do like mine cold though (Ca Phe Sua Da, right?).
Had some of the special coffee where the beans pass through a weasel before being roasted. Not bad, but significantly better? Not sure about that…

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11 Rachel July 16, 2009 at 10:28 am

YES! I can’t wait to try this when I go camping next month. I jsut found your blog via a Craft Gossip link to your candied petals. I would love to link to those if you don’t mind!

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12 Diana July 16, 2009 at 11:07 am

What fun! I love vietnamese coffee and didn’t even think of making it camping. We’re going to be at Mt. Rainier for our anniversary this week so I’ll have to bring some sweetend condensed milk now :)

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13 Kimberly July 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

Yum! I think everything tastes better when you’re camping. Do you know of any place online where I can get one of those fancy coffee filters? I haven’t found any place that stocks them in Boulder, CO.

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14 Hélène July 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

I need my java fix when I’m camping also. Love the idea of vietnamese coffee. Never tried it. Love the pictures.

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15 White on Rice Couple July 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Lydia – I couldn’t have said it any better. Beautifully explained.

Phoo-D – The Viet filters are perfect for camping. It has only been the last couple years that we’ve figured that out, even though we use them all the time at home. I hate it when a great idea is right under your nose & you don’t see it. At least we finally figured it out.

Simone – I’m the same way. Once you get spoiled with good coffee, it’s hard to enjoy the mundane stuff. That’s a big part of why we like figuring out ways to cook better in the back country.

Veron – Ha ha ha. That’s like Diane. She’ll sit there waiting, “Coffee, please!” until I make it for her. I think she just likes me spoiling her.

Sarah – Back in the day we did the instant Vietnamese coffees. Palatable but not the same.

Katie – You have it exactly right. Use a decaf roast and your cardiologist will be happy.

Katerina – Make it Christmas in July! Nothing beats the summer heat like an iced Vietnamese Coffee.

matt – Awww. I’m totally flattered. But of course I would try to make it the best when I have such revered guests as you guys in the house.

Leah – This post actually went up while we were still in the woods. We are on the way home now from…. Yosemite. We have to make our yearly pilgrimage up there once summer hits. If we’re lucky we’ll get to go another time or two this year. The photos were at camp outside the valley on the way up to Glacier Point. It’d be great to get our clan up there together.

Kristina – Correct, the iced Vietnamese coffee is called ca phe sau dau. I’ve heard about the weasel coffee beans but have never seen them to try it. If you don’t think it makes it extra special, I don’t think I’ll take the time seeking it out. ;)

Rachel – Thanks for visiting. We’re glad you found us. The candied rose petals were just a couple posts back. Here’s the direct link to it: Candied Rose Petals. Have a great time camping!

Diana – Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! Mt. Rainer is so incredibly beautiful. Have a fantastic time.

Kimberly – We totally agree. A bagel with mustard never tastes so good as when we are camping, plus, beautiful places make everything better. We’ve added the filters to our Amazon store for those who can’t find them locally. The direct link is here. Although if anyone would know if you can actually get them in Boulder, it would be Jen at Use Real Butter. The woman is phenomenal.

Hélène – Thanks. It is such a treat to have good coffee while camping. Vietnamese coffee has become our staple.

Thanks for visiting everyone. Hope you all get the chance to take some time and go camping. To be surrounded by Nature’s beauty is one of the greatest pleasures in the world. Todd

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16 Haley J. July 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Love it! Ca phe sua da is one of my favorite beverages. And somehow, the morning ritual made rustic outdoors is very meditative. Thanks for a great single-serving recipe!

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17 Lori Lynn July 16, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Love it! I’m in the process of writing about a camping recipe too, although, its been years since I camped…
LL

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18 krysta July 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

my parents swear by camp coffee, that’s it’s the best ever. (it’s probably the onlt thing they could agree on)i know this sounds strange but those of some of the best memories i have of them before their divorce. funny how that works and that this post reminded me of it. love you guys and have a safe trip home.

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19 krysta July 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

only thing they agreed on (way to screw up a comment)

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20 zenchef July 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Wow.. thanks for the tutorial on making the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee. You can be sure i’ll be trying that very soon, maybe not out camping but.. in my car during rush hour? :) I LOVE vietnamese coffee! I’m always in awe looking at your pictures. Amazing.

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21 joey July 16, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I love the ritual of making my coffee in the morning and the peace it gives me, along with the fortitude to face the days challenges. I also love Vietnamese coffee (got my filters on my trip there!)! So your post hits a chord :) How lovely to have it in the gorgeous outdoors!

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22 LoveFeast Table July 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I don’t love the ritual of making coffee, like above….but, I do love the coffee (and so I love someone to enjoy making it for me)! That is hardcore coffee making, you did! Way to make a commitment to the moment!! :) Looks like a lovely place and lovely coffee! I agree, I love a warm drink to sooth the soul! -Chris Ann

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23 Kristina July 17, 2009 at 12:53 am

The friend we were traveling with bought us a bag of the weasel coffee to take home. You may just have to come up to LA to try it when we get back. :-)

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24 Tartelette July 17, 2009 at 6:40 am

Love my Vietnamese coffee filters! I love finishing a dinner with friends by taking them out and taking the time to brew some. The ceremonial, the anticipation, the incredible smell and letting everybody partake in the making. It makes the end result taste that much better!
Thank you for the recipe for the perfect cup!

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25 Dodie @AshevilleTravel July 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

coffee, camping, cool morning, warm hands …it doesn’t get any better than that. thanks for the reminder.

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26 White on Rice Couple July 17, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Haley – You’re welcome. Vietnamese coffee is one of the palate’s great joys. Especially when made the traditional way.

Lori Lynn – Years can’t erase the love. Can’t wait to see your camping recipe.

Krysta – Sometimes we just swear. But then we’ll have our coffee and all will be well. Love you, too. Say “Hi!” to the sous.

zenchef – Aww, daring commuter. Remember it takes a bit for it to drip through the filter. You might make it to work before getting your coffee fix! Thanks for the compliments.

joey – It’s one of the best things in the morning. And isn’t Vietnam such a great country to explore? Glad you brought home a part of it.

Chris Ann – Another one like Diane. Loves the goods, but love it even more if someone else makes it. It is such a daily routine for me, it seems like no work at all. As simple as brushing your teeth or putting on your clothes. Only much tastier and and there is the soul warming part of the ritual that gets you ready for the day.

Kristina – We may take you up on that. Are you back from Vietnam? Looks like your trip was/is great from your posts. We actually stopped at a couple of the same places in Hanoi. I miss it so.

Tartlette – i couldn’t have put it any better. Another reason to love you, my kindred soul. Cheers!

Dodie – You guys must have some incredible camping around Asheville, as well. Time to bust out the tent!

Thanks for visiting everyone. Hope you all take the time for a morning ritual to set your soul right before facing the day. It’s the little moments that make life special. Todd

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27 Chez US July 17, 2009 at 6:40 pm

love Vietnamese but never think of making it, even though, I can see the maker from here, sitting in our cupboard, begging to be taken out! great idea to toss it in the camping gear. we will have to whip out our trusty espresso maker and do a post next weekend when camping …. Italian coffee!

Hope you both had a GREAT trip!! Chat soon,

xxoo

d& l

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28 Manggy July 17, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Great idea? And condensed milk on the go? I’m so proud, hehehe :)

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29 Jeff July 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I can’t live without my coffee in the morning. Nice idea and I love vietnamese coffee. Also, my favorite hangover cure is the vietnamese restaurant and their coffee.

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30 White on Rice Couple July 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Chez US – Have a great camping trip. For us if it’s not Vietnamese coffee it’s espresso or so version of. Love the stovetop makers. One of my friends live and dies by his.

Manggy – I actually started doing the condensed milk on the go for work. It was a natural transition. So glad I could do you proud!

Jeff – I totally agree. Pho or Bun Bo Hue are the ultimate-hangover remedies when combined with ca phe sua da. Or maybe so fried eggs, pate and toast. Weird, I know, but I like it.

Thanks for visiting everyone. Any other camping or coffee must haves out there?
Have a great week. Todd

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31 Thien An July 22, 2009 at 5:59 am

I love your blog. I have hard times wording my love for vietnamese cuisines. Your blog entries just fills the words in for me, the description and the dedication to word and to describe the food you eat is beautifully poetic.

I would highly reccommend you try to find Cafe Trung Nguyen. It’s a vietnamese brand and I don’t quite know if they export whole beans or not. But the grounded kind that I do get is rich in flavor and unforgettable. Even now when I head abck to college I bring a small bag with me as a luxury, but priceless, item.

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32 April July 27, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Thank you for the recipe! I always enjoy vietnamese coffee in restaurants so I bought my own coffee filter and I wasn’t able to get it right. But now I will try it again and I’m very excited! Thanks.

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33 Marie July 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I’m just relieved to know that my husband and I are not the only crazy people out in the bush/jungle/woods using Vietnamese filters. We’ve used them since living in Vietnam (before that we lugged an Italian espresso pot…nothing like roughing it!) and couldn’t live without them now. I’ve just discovered your blog and, well, being cafe-sua-nong-in-the-woods kinda people has clenched it for me. I’ll be a regular visitor!

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34 Marie July 27, 2009 at 11:17 pm

P.S. I hope it’s OK that I’ve put a link to your blog on mine!

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35 Anna April 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Just discovered this post…when we were in Vietnam in January (the most inspiring 4 weeks of my life, I`m sure), we always had our coffee this way in our small hotels…I took a small filter and some Vietnamese coffee with me an even now and then, when I need a moment of “vacation”, I treat myself with a Vietnamese coffee…..

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36 Poor Taste September 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this! I love Vietnamese coffee. I’m going to try it with Cafe du Monde beans next time we go camping (the chicory kind from New Orleans, I’ve noticed many Vietnamese restaurants use these).

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