Cafe Sua, or, Iced Coffee: Vietnamese Style

This is the simplest recipe I may ever post. I have no idea how many ingredients the chicken pho calls for or how many items go into the grilled shrimp tacos, but I can tell you that this recipe calls for two ingredients:

1. 2 tablespoons of medium ground coffee

2. 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk

Drizzle those two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk into a glass.

Brew your two tablespoons of coffee with a little more than 1/3 cup of water. I like to use one of these.

This Vietnamese coffee filter set isn’t required–whatever method you’ve got is fine. This is available online for less than ten dollars, but you can pick one up for just a few bucks at your local Asian foods market. It’s got three parts (l-r): the press, the filter, and the lid.

Put 2 tablespoons of medium ground coffee into the filter. Shake it a bit to get rid of any grounds that are small enough to fit through the holes. Then, set the filter on top of the glass that contains the sweetened condensed milk.

Screw the press onto the coffee grounds. You want the grounds to be pressed in there pretty tight, but not so tight that the water can’t get through.

Add about 1/3 cup of boiling water to the filter. Place the lid on top of the filter.

You know the press is screwed on just right when the liquid coffee s-l-o-w-l-y drips out of the filter and onto the sweetened condensed milk. For me, this process takes several minutes. I try to find something else to do so I don’t agitate myself more than the caffeine is about to.

(This may be stating the obvious, but it is not a good idea to try to tighten or loosen the metal press once you’ve added scalding hot water. Unless you have no feeling in your fingertips.)

This is a great time to fill a second glass with ice. If you’re really serious, you’ll use coffee ice cubes so your drink doesn’t become diluted. Mine never lasts long enough for this problem to occur.

When all of the water has filtered through, remove the coffee set and stir the sweetened condensed milk and coffee together. It will be the most incredible caramel color.

Pour it over ice.

Cafe Sua (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)

makes 1 serving

Note: I like my coffee very strong. Feel free to change the amount of coffee to suit your taste. Just alter the amount of sweetened condensed milk accordingly.


2 tablespoons medium ground coffee

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup water



1. Brew coffee with your preferred method. If using a Vietnamese coffee filter set, bring water to a boil in a teakettle. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of coffee in the filter, shaking it gently to remove any small grounds.

2. Set the coffee filter over a glass that contains 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.

3. Screw the press until it fits snugly, but not too tightly, over the grounds.

4. Add the water and cover the filter set. The coffee should drip slowly from the filter, taking several minutes to completely drain.

5. Stir the coffee and sweetened condensed milk until well blended.

6. Serve over a glass of ice cubes (or coffee ice cubes).

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