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 – cà phê sữa đá or cà phê sữa nóng), 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.
Now that we are on the road and in the mountains, the espresso fixes are a more complicated affair. However the Vietnamese coffee (particularly cà phê sữa nóng – 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.
With my Vietnamese Cà Phê Sữa Nóng 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 me 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!
More Vietnamese Hot Coffee or Vietnamese Iced Coffee info:
Here’s a recipe for a Vietnamese Vietnamese Iced Coffee
The Filters can be purchased here- Buy Vietnamese Coffee Filters
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.
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons (25ml) coarse Ground Coffee (use a roast suitable for espresso, the grind the same as for a french press)
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) Sweetened Condensed Milk *See Note 1
- Hot Water (almost to a boil)
- Vietnamese Coffee Filter
- Small pan to use as a bain marie
Begin heating up some water on the camp stove (Whisperlite International is our stove of choice. It still rocks after all these years.)
Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a camping mug.
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.
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.)
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.
Note 1: For a slightly less sweet version, combine the sweetened condensed milk with half and half before adding it to the cup. Usually we'll mix about 1/2 sweetened condensed milk - 1/2 half & half.