Vietnam is the second largest coffee exporting country in the world. Many tourists and expats find the unique taste and the huge availability of coffee in all cities of Vietnam. Large amount of Vietnamese people like the atmosphere of having their cups on the street side café watching life passing by. But some prefer to have it at home since the first thing in the morning they need to do is to have a cup of coffee.
In Vietnam, coffee, no matter it is served at home or in cafe, is brewed leisurely. Hot coffee (cafe nong) is preferred in the morning, while iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá or cà phê đen đá) is saved for the heat later in the day. I like having my cup of joy on the street side in a cool Autumn morning or a cold rainy afternoon of Hanoi. There is nothing like escaping from the rain, running into a coffee shop with a lightly damp raincoat. I can immensely enjoy a cup in that kind of atmosphere.
But I also cannot start my day without smelling the freshly brewed coffee in the morning. Here I’m going to share with those who want to prepare their Vietnamese coffee at home.
Coffee filters in a Hanoi cafe
Instruction of making a Vietnamese coffee cup
There are different ways of brewing coffee in Vietnam: coffee machines, Vietnamese drips, coffee filters, the old style “boiled” coffee, and the new trend of “coffee in a tea jar”…. Although Vietnam owed the availability of ingredients for this coffee to French colonization, this creation has been well Vietnamized. Vietnamese coffee is uniquely characterized by a combination of French roast coffee dripped through a Vietnamese coffee filter mixed with condensed milk.
French roast pairs exceptionally well with condensed milk. The Vietnamese coffee filter gives a stronger brew than that of an American drip machine and different than that of a French press.
Any French roast can be used, but the most popular brands for Vietnamese coffee available here in Vietnam are Trung Nguyen, Highlands… Most coffee shops in Hanoi stick with café Trung Nguyen, which is the biggest brand in Vietnam.
- 1 heaping tablespoon (about 4 teaspoons) of Trung Nguyen grind coffee, a Vietnamese coffee filter
- Condensed milk to your taste
- A glass for the brew or a cup if you drink it hot
- Some ice cube if you drink it iced
Boil some water
1. First boil some water. You won’t need much so use a small electric water boiler. Water should be boiled up to 100 o C then leave it for a few second till’ it cools down to about 90.
Put some coffee powder in the filter
2. Put coffee powder (about 4 tea spoons) into the Vietnamese coffee drip. I also love to smell coffee powder.
Press the inner cap to make coffee powder stay tight inside the filter
3. Press the filter to make sure coffee powder stay not too tight not too lose in the filter.
A bowl of boiled water will keep your coffee hot
4. If you wanted to drink this hot instead, you can put the brewing cup in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water. This will keep your Vietnamese coffee hot until the last drop. If you are drinking cold then no need.
Pour condensed milk into the cup before if you know how much milk you need
5. Ideally you want to add the condensed milk to the cup before brewing because the boiling water actually cooks it. It does have a slight effect on the flavor. You have to know how much condensed milk you want in your Vietnamese coffee cup as this milk is really sweet.
Pour a bit of water, wait for a minute then fill the filter with up to the cap
6. To brew, pour a tiny bit of water in the filter just to wet the grind and to let the grind expand a bit. Also this will help rid of some small grinds that happen to make it through the filter. You can toss it out if you see any. Then wait for about 1 minute.Then go ahead and fill the filter all the way and let it drip. Ideal brewing time comes to about 3 to 5 minutes so adjust the filter accordingly.
Too loose and you’ll just have runny brown water not Vietnamese coffee. Too tight and nothing will drip through.( Believe me you’ll hate this). The filter will be hot, so use a fork or another utensil to adjust the filter. Place the cap on and watch the coffee drip! This is one of the most relaxing thing watching the drops! The dark brown drops will fall on the creamy white condensed milk. What a great combination of colors!
Adding condensed milk after will ensure the sweetness to your taste
7. Personally, I like it a little bitter. About 1 teaspoon of condensed milk does it for me. If you like it sweeter add 2 or 3 teaspoons. Again, add condensed milk bit by bit as it is really sweet. Too much milk can destroy the taste! Stir it well so condensed milk is well mixed with coffee. The final production is a nice Vietnamese coffee cup with a unique beautiful creamy brown color. And the smell! Need I tell you again about it?!
Enjoy your Vietnamese coffee
8. In the hot weather of Hanoi you may want to have your Vietnamese coffee with ice. Pour the brew into a glass filled with ice and serve. Or drink it hot according to your taste. Repeat the whole process if you want the second round. (True for me!)