How to Make Vietnamese Coffee at Home

The first time I tried Vietnamese coffee was a spur-of-the-moment order for iced coffee while at my favorite pho restaurant. I normally cannot get my mind off of the delicious, aromatic soup I am about to eat, so coffee doesn’t even cross my mind.

That day I just hadn’t got my caffeine fix. I’d seen people drink Vietnamese coffee before, and always found myself drooling over how delicious that first stir of creamy condensed milk with thick, aromatic coffee looked. I’d never ordered it before though.

I ordered a Vietnamese coffee, and was so blown away by this drink I had not noticed my whole life that the rest of the meal was a blur. I am a total sucker for sweets, but I don’t usually consider coffee to be a drink I like to sweeten up. Since that day, I’m hooked and always have to order a cup with my meal.

The taste is so flavorful and rich, and the condensed milk adds a perfect sweet and thick touch to it. Sometimes I can’t help but film a slow-mo video of the contents blending together just to drool over later.

It can be consumed iced or hot, and both are rich, thick and decadent. My favorite part is when the coffee has finished dripping into the milk, and I get to stir it up for the first time, with the creamy goodness swirling together in a perfect blend.

I tend to stick to a few brewing methods for my daily coffee. I like an easy cup of black coffee in the morning, and I don’t deviate from it much. Sometimes I get the urge for something a bit sweeter and richer to get me through the afternoon.

For years, I relied on my spontaneous trips to Vietnamese restaurants to get my fix for the coffee. It wasn’t until I really thought about how simple the process is that I realized I could probably make it at home. I’m so glad I did, as it’s given me a delicious way to perk up midday. I really enjoy going through the steps to  make the coffee, which adds to the experience.

The process is pretty simple and straightforward, and you only need a few things. Most items I have at home, save for a Vietnamese coffee filter. I’d still recommend investing in one, as they shouldn’t cost you more than $10 and really add to the quality and novelty of the drink.

If you don’t have a Vietnamese coffee filter, and you don’t want to go out and buy one (we get it, the craving hits and it’s hard to think about anything else), there are still options out there. Making a Vietnamese coffee with a French press is an option we’ll go over.

It takes about five minutes total to get Vietnamese coffee prepared. Each cup is prepared individually, so it is definitely a single-serve method, though you can prepare more at a time and use multiple cups to brew individual coffees.

If you’re looking for a quick, single-serve caffeine fix, you’re probably better off using a quicker single-serve method. Making this coffee is an easy process, but it takes care and a bit of time and preparation.

What You Need To Brew Vietnamese Coffee At Home

  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Mug/glass
  • Spoon
  • Vietnamese coffee filter (here’s a cheap option)
  • Hot water
  • Ice (optional)

I always suggest using a grinder to freshly grind your beans right before brewing. This will result in the best flavor. You want your grounds to be coarse, about the same level you’d grind for a French press.

You can easily purchase a Vietnamese coffee filter at any Asian market, or order one online. Some people argue that you can make use a French press in place of a Vietnamese coffee filter if you’re in a pinch, or don’t want to buy another gadget for your kitchen.

How To Make Vietnamese Coffee

Step 1:

Begin heating some water on the stove. You shouldn’t need more than eight ounces for the coffee.

Step 2:

Add sweetened condensed milk to your glass or mug, using one to three tablespoons depending on your taste preference. Remember, sweetened condensed is sweet, so you won’t need to add as much as you would other milk.

Step 3:

Add two to three tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee to the Vietnamese coffee filter. Make sure you remove the top screen first. Distribute the grounds evenly, but do not shake around the filter as you risk clogging it up. Do compact the grounds a bit before moving to the next step.

Step 4:

Screw the top back on the filter, and place the whole filter on top of the mug or glass with the sweetened condensed milk. Using a glass is fun because you get a better view of the coffee as it brews.

Step 5:

Pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds, just enough to cover them. This is usually around 2 tablespoons. This will cause the grounds to “bloom” and expand. This will take about 30 seconds.

Step 6:

Pour the rest of the hot water over the coffee in the filter. This will cause the brewed coffee to slowly drip from the filter and into your cup of condensed milk.

This should take four to five minutes, so don’t worry if it seems to be dripping slow. If it is going much faster than that, the grind is probably too coarse. If it goes way slower than that, the grind may be too fine.

Step 7:

Stand back and wait.

It’s a good idea to keep track of the time on your first few gos at this. You can refer to the above if the coffee is dripping at a rate that is much faster or slower than four to five minutes to complete.

Step 8:

Remove the filter from the top of the glass or mug when all of the coffee has dripped through to the milk. Stir the condensed milk and brewed coffee together.

Step 9:


Vietnamese Iced Coffee

My favorite way to drink Vietnamese coffee is over ice. It’s extremely easy to do, and tastes rich, bold and cool.

If you’ve never had it, don’t expect it to taste anything like cold brew or iced coffee you buy at a cafe. This stuff is thicker, richer, and more decadent. And sweet, so sweet.

If you want to make Vietnamese iced coffee, all you’ll need to do is follow the above instructions exactly the same. Once you’ve finished Step 8, fill a tall glass with a generous amount of ice cubes.

Pour the brewed Vietnamese coffee directly into the cup with ice. I recommend waiting a few minutes after brewing so the coffee isn’t at its hottest temperature.

Iced Vietnamese coffee is a delicious drink, and I prefer it over the hot version.

Vietnamese Coffee With a French Press

I find that using a Vietnamese coffee filter is the best way to go when it comes to making this coffee. Sometimes you’re in a pinch though, or you get hit with a craving that cannot wait for you to go to the nearest Asian market or order online.

In situations like these, a French press can save the day and satisfy the craving for Vietnamese coffee.

Step 1 and 2:

Same as above

Step 3:

Coarsely grind 2-3 tablespoons of coffee using whatever coffee grinder you use to achieve this. Add the coffee to your French press.

Step 4:

Pour the 6-8 ounces of hot water over the coffee into the French press and stir gently. Allow the mixture four minutes to steep.

Step 5:

Press and strain the coffee in the French press, and pour it into the glass or mug with sweetened condensed milk.

Step 6:

Stir and enjoy!

You can also pour this mixture over ice if you’d prefer to have an Vietnamese iced coffee.

What Kind of Coffee to Make Vietnamese Coffee At Home?

You can get creative with your drink, and try out different roasts between dark and light for your Vietnamese coffee and see what you like best.

If you plan to make it over ice, I’d definitely recommend using a darker roast as the ice is bound to melt a bit and water the coffee down. This is why I also recommend letting the coffee cool for a moment before pouring it directly over ice.

Traditionally, Vietnamese coffee is made with a dark roast. Different variations were adapted by region, based on what was available.

The sweet drink so many have grown to love originated from people using what they had available. When Vietnamese coffee became a beloved beverage, it was because the dairy industry was still beginning and access to fresh milk was sparse.

People began to use sweetened condensed milk paired with a dark roast of coffee as an alternative. Because sweetened condensed milk is so sweet, it pairs best with dark roast, and follows tradition.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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