If you walk into our house or work with us in our studio, you’ll end up sipping one of our favorite coffee drinks. It’s a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Cafe Sua Da.  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”. This popular Vietnamese Iced Coffee is acombination of strong coffee and a hit of sweetened condensed milk with ice. Our Vietnamese iced coffee recipe is simple and can be made by various methods.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe or cafe sua da in glass cups

How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Coffee Grinds

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:

Many Vietnamese cafes or restaurants in America often first used Cafe Du Monde grounds and often now they will grind their own coffee. Vietnam mostly grows robusta beans, which are know for their strong flavor and high caffeine. Cafe Du Monde may be thought of as classic and follows that footprint, 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 Red Bay Coffee or La Barba Coffee (roasters we discovered on our travels).

How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Traditional Vietnamese Coffee Filters

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.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Espresso

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.

Quick Espresso Method for Viet 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 and meditative. Have fun and drink up lots of iced coffee!

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe or cafe sua da in glass cups

Video: Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe (Cafe Sua Da):

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Traditional Style Filters (cafe sua da)

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

We love the style and function of this phin. French style matte finish with solid construction. This is our personal favorite at home.

A good traditional filter with a press down screen instead of a screw down screen. Multiple sizes available.

Stylish stovetop pour-over kettle. Multiple color options. Built in thermometer. Love this kettle! Or if you want to get fancy, get their electric kettle.

Vietnamese grown coffee, robusta beans are the traditional coffee varietals of Vietnamese coffee. Famous for its strong flavor and high caffeine.

A New Orleans staple, this dark roasted coffee was often the base for Vietnamese coffee in banh mi shops in America.

An all in one kit for Vietnamese Coffee. Filter, Coffee, Sweetened Condensed milk. Awesome for on the go.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe with Espresso in glass cups

Different Types of Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Vietnamese coffee doesn’t just come sweetened and iced. Here’s a quick summary of common options found in Vietnamese Coffee Shops and restaurants.

  • 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. Here’s our recipe for Vietnamese hot coffee that we love making during camping.
  • 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.
Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe or cafe sua da in glass cups

Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe (Cà Phê Sữa Đá)

Three main factors affect 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 (phin).
4.75 from 16 votes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Sweetened Condensed Milk *See Note 1
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (22.5 ml) 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

Instructions 

  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an 8-10 oz glass.
    Adding sweetened condensed milk to glass
  • Remove the top screen from the coffee filter. Put the ground coffee in the filter, screw screen back on, compacting the grounds.
    Adding coffee to filter
  • Place filter on the glass with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour just enough hot water to cover the grounds and let sit for 30 seconds.
    Adding a little water to filter
  • 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.)
    Adding rest of water
  • When water has passed though filter, remove filter from glass. Stir coffee and sweetened condensed milk together.
    Stirring coffee and sweetened condensed milk together
  • Add ice and enjoy.
    Adding ice to the Vietnamese coffee

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.

Video

Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 128kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 50mg, Potassium: 148mg, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 105IU, Vitamin C: 1.1mg, Calcium: 114mg

Best Asian Coffee and Tea Drinks

We love good caffeinated drinks that can be made at home. We’ve traveled the world exploring Asian style coffee in Vietnam and Coffee in Japan. Now we love taking those experiences and making them at home and customizing them to our personal flavors. Try our popular Sea salt cream iced coffee and homemade Thai tea are two of our reader favorites.

More Easy Recipes:

This was originally published in 2013 and was re-pulished with new photos, video, and recipe format in 2021.  Hope you enjoy our Vietnamese iced coffee recipe (cafe sua da) and here’s More Beverage and Cocktail Recipes Here.