Traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Espresso

Chances are if you walk into our house or work with us in our studio, you’ll end up sipping on some of our favorite coffee drinks: Vietnamese Iced Coffee.  For the morning, a manual pressed espresso or cappuccino will start the day. In the afternoon when we start feeling sluggish, a Vietnamese iced coffee is the perfect “pick-me-up”. If you’ve never had a Vietnamese Iced Coffee, it’s a combination of strong coffee and a hit of sweetened condensed milk, add iced and a super refreshing “ahh”. Our Vietnamese iced coffee recipe is simple and can be made by various methods.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe @whiteonrice

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe @whiteonrice


How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee and different brewing methods:

Vietnamese iced coffee can be made in an number of ways, so have fun in exploring the different methods. We’re here to show you how we make it:

Starting with good coffee grinds: Many Vietnamese cafes or restaurants will use often Cafe Du Monde grounds or they will grind their own coffee. Cafe Du Monde may be thought of as classic, however most of the better coffee shops around in Little Saigon here in Orange County and the shops Diane’s cousins took us to in Vietnam use a much better bean. We personally use our favorite coffee beans for our morning cappuccinos which lately have been either from Kean Coffee or La Barba Coffee (a great roaster we discovered on our travels).

Traditional Vietnamese Coffee Filters: For the method of brewing the coffee there are usually two schools. One which does it the slow and poetic way with the Vietnamese coffee filters. If you want to customize each glass and have time to brew it the old fashioned way, this Vietnamese iced coffee filter is a cool to be able to watch the coffee drip into each glass.

Using Espresso: For the other Vietnamese coffee shops, you’ll often see espresso shots being used for each glass. Either the slow traditional filter or being made with espresso, they both make a great Vietnamese Iced coffee. For the classic coffee filter method, there is something beautiful and relaxing in having to wait for 5 minutes while the coffee brews one drip at a time. There is also something quite beautiful in quickly pulling a luscious shot of espresso and then flicking the tip of the spoon to stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Fire up the espresso machine , pull a crema laden shot of espresso and then convert it to a beautiful Vietnamese iced coffee.

The quicker, espresso method also gives the added convenience for when you want to make Vietnamese iced coffee in bigger batches. Pull a bunch of shots then stir in the sweetened condensed milk to taste. You can even do this ahead of time if needed. Then when you are ready serve; ice, pour, and enjoy. Now you have a couple options to make Vietnamese iced coffee for one or for a big party. Quick or slow a meditative. Have fun and drink up while the weather is still warm so you can hydrate yourself with lots of iced coffee!

Watch our Video making our Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe:

Fun Facts:  Vietnamese Coffee doesn’t just come sweetened and iced here’s a quick summary of common options found in Vietnamese coffee shops:

Cà Phê Sữa Đá (literally – Coffee Milk Ice) This is the most popular Vietnamese Iced Coffee recipe.  A base of sweetened condensed milk, over which about 2 oz of potent coffee is brewed using a individual serving size filter.  The coffee itself is syrupy and strong, similar to an espresso.  Add ice and enjoy.  The combination of the caramel sweetness of the milk, the potent brew of the coffee, and the cool refreshing addition of the ice is heavenly.

Cà Phê Sữa Nóng (literally – Coffee Milk Hot) Same concept as above, except omit the ice and in Việtnam they often warm the whole glass in a cup of hot water.  Again, the taste is wonderfully rich and sweet, especially when enjoyed over a casual morning taken in small sips at a time.

Cà Phê Đen (Coffee Black) Just the coffee this time, no sweetened condensed milk.  Not for the weak.

Cà Phê Đen Đá (Coffee Black Ice)  I think you can figure this one out.

-diane and todd

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe @whiteonrice

Hope you enjoy our Vietnamese iced coffee recipe and here’s More Beverage and Cocktail Recipes Here. 

Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee Traditional Style:

We tend to be a bit obsessive over coffee. Here’s some of our favorites for traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee:

Single Cup Vietnamese Coffee Maker – Love the solid construction of this filter.  Screw down internal filter. Heavier duty stainless steel than most filters.
Vietnamese Coffee Filter (multiple size options) – Another good filter. Screw down internal filter. Multiple sizes available.
Fellow Pour Over Kettle – Stylish pour over kettle. Three color options, Matte Black, Copper, and Polished Stainless. Built in thermometer. Love this kettle!

Cafe du Monde Coffee – You’ll often see Vietnamese banh mi and coffee shops everywhere making their coffee with Cafe du Monde.
Trung Nguyen Premium Coffee – Another popular coffee for shops to use. Ground specifically for Vietnamese coffee filters. Quite and enjoyable cup.  
Copper Cow Coffee Single-Use Portable Vietnamese Coffee Kit – An all in one kit for Vietnamese Coffee. Filter, Coffee, Sweetened Condensed milk. Awesome for on the go.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe with Espresso for Coffee Lovers | @whiteonrice

This was originally published in 2013 and was re-pulished with new photos, video, and recipe format in 2018. 

3.8 from 5 votes
Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe (Cà Phê Sữa Đá)
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
7 mins
Three main factors effect the taste of the Vietnamese iced coffee. The quality and grind of the coffee and the quantity of the sweetened condensed milk. Find a good coffee and adjust the grind as needed for your filter. Adjust the sweetened condensed milk to your preferred sweetness. We will often mix the sweetened condensed milk with some half and half to reduce it's sweetness a bit. For a quick version, use a shot of espresso instead of the coffee brewed in the traditional filter.
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American, Asian
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 128 kcal
  • 2 Tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk *See Note 1
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons coarse ground Coffee (use a roast suitable for espresso, the grind the same as for a french press)
  • Hot Water (almost to a boil)
  • Ice
  • Vietnamese Coffee Filter
  1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an 8-10 oz glass.
  2. 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 glass with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour just enough hot water to cover the grounds and let sit for 30 sec.
  3. 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, coffee's grind is too coarse. If slower, coffee's grind is too fine.)
  4. When water has passed though filter, remove filter from glass. Stir coffee and sweetened condensed milk together. Add ice and enjoy.
Recipe Notes

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 and half.

Note 2: For a hot version, just omit the ice at the end of the recipe. In Vietnam the hot version will often be served in a cup of hot water to help keep it warm longer.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Brian Shea

    This sounds delicious. I’ve had iced coffee in Thai restaurants, but I wonder if it was actually Vietnamese iced coffee they were serving, or does Thai cuisine have their own version? In any case they were always delicious. I feel the slow drip version might be a good ritual for when company is over, as it sort of reminds me of absinthe and it’s procedure.


    Totally need to start making these for the summer. I start dragging really bad int he afternoon lately, and this would be a great tasty afternoon pick me up!

    1. Todd & Diane

      You’ll love it! We’re obsessed. 🙂

  3. Camilla Hawkins @FabFood4All

    I need to make this as a treat for my daughter who loves iced coffee:-) I’m intrigued by the condensed milk in here, must make it super yummy!

    1. Todd & Diane

      The condensed milk is a traditional way of making the coffee drink, which adds a rich sweetness. If it’s your first time, start with a bit of the condensed milk first and add more to your personal taste. Enjoy!

  4. Gina Kleinworth

    Having this while in studio with you was AMAZING – it was certainly the perfect way to re-energize after a long day of learning. It is DELISH!

  5. Minh Tran

    Great post! As a lover of Vietnamese coffee and culture I always get excited when I see others sharing the great things Vietnam has to offer.

    Being a fella born and raised in Saigon who lives for coffee it drove me absolutely crazy that I couldn’t get Vietnamese coffee beans in the States. Most brands from Vietnam are sold as ground coffee, often with filler and I much prefer whole beans for quality and freshness.

    When I would travel to Vietnam I started bringing Vietnamese coffee beans back to the US. At first for my own consumption but then the more people I shared it with the more people wanted it. The next thing that I know, we launched a business called ChestBrew, where we harvest and roast the best Vietnamese coffee beans and distribute it on Amazon.

    I recognize the brands you mentioned in your post but wanted to share this with you because, well the coffee is just too good not too and you sound like people who appreciate good Vietnamese coffee.

    I look forward to following your work!

  6. Mira L

    Looks refreshing ! And easy to make 🙂

  7. MyThy as in "Mighty"

    Delurking here! My mom lovingly (even after a vehement fight!) has made coffee for my dad every day for the past 36 yrs the old fashioned way with a drip filter. My dad likes Trung Nguyen for the added arabica and cocoa flavor where as my mom like’s Gavina (that comes in the brown paper bags often sold up at the register at Vietnamese super markets). Since moving from the great mecca of Little Saigon in OC, it’s hard to find good Asian coffee even at the little Vietnamese markets in suburban Detroit.

    We now make a big batch of Cafe du Monde using Pioneer Woman’s cold-pressed method. I loved introducing my fiance to Vietnamese Coffee but we work different hours for me to make him coffee (and coffee machines? Gasp! euww!) every morning. Stir in some condensed milk and top it off w/ a bit of heavy cream/half and half (my mom’s new technique). And we’re perky!

  8. sergey

    If you want to get a real taste of real Vietnamese coffee do not choose coffee with chicory. I have been staying in Vietnam for several years, professional in coffee industry and very surprised reading about chicory as component of Vietnamese coffee at western forums.What they use really here in Vietnam is 100% coffee, robusta or robusta/arabika blend, dark roast. No chicory.

  9. Ash- foodfashionparty

    Love coffee anytime of the day and the Vietnamese version looks interesting. I might have to get my hand on the coffee filter, it’s for coffee it.

  10. Donald @ Tea Time

    Yeah, some vietnamse iced coffee never too much. I always drink that without so many ice cubes.

  11. Alex @ Delicious-Knowledge

    I love vietnamese iced coffee! If I see it on a menu, I definitely get it. Never thought about making my own though! Going to pin to save later 🙂

  12. Lizthechef

    I remember sipping Vietnamese iced coffee in a San Diego restaurant with both my mom and grandmother, during my grandma’s only visit here. My absolute favorite coffee drink. Say, you want to fix that typo in your title, right?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thanks for the heads up Liz! That’s what we get for finishing up a post at midnight.

  13. Row

    I love Vietnamese coffee, either iced or hot. You must have read my mind… I had an open tin of condensed milk, so for the last couple of days, it’s been Vietnamese coffee, all the time! So far, I’ve been drinking it hot, so I really should try it on ice. 🙂

  14. Kathrynn

    I could never get the Vietnamese coffee filter to work properly. I always end up with grounds in my coffee. How course do the grinds need to be?

    BTW – longtime fan of your blog!

    1. charlotte

      Just my $.02. I got grinds in my coffee when I used a course grind. When I switched to a finer grind (not quite espresso fine, but I have used that too), I get less. What I do is pack the grinds by squishing them between the two pieces – not too firmly or it will clog – and then dripping about a tablespoon of boiling water on first. Once the initial tablespoon has soaked in, I fill the coffee chamber. No grinds will seep through.

      When I do pack the coffee too tightly, I’ll remove the top filter, and use a fork to poke to the bottom to let the steeped coffee through. Works.

    2. White on Rice Couple

      The grind will depend on your filter but usually it is somewhere between medium to coarse. We have 3 different brands at home and they each need a slightly different grind. There is usually a touch of grinds which passes through w the individual filters.

  15. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    This looks excellent! I love iced coffee, and I am digging the Thai, now the Vietnamese, and I wonder what’s next. I pinned your Thai to a group board, and it got really popular and I get email notifications on it when people leave comments because I was the original pinner and don’t know if you get those or not, but seriously, people are LOVING that one 🙂

  16. Belinda @themoonblushbaker

    Thai coffee and tea are always on the menu at my place. I think my love for condensed milk draws me to this! Think of the icy desserts your could make with this, stunning.

  17. Norma @ Allspice and Nutmeg

    Love this! What a treat this is.

  18. Tieghan

    I think I need to start drinking coffee! Your ice coffee have been making me drool lately!

  19. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Dang, this IS easy!! Lovely way to start the day!

  20. hahaha, I’ve just made a Thai tee for my blog. But I will try your recipe for a vietnamese coffee as well. I loooove coffee.

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