Vietnamese Coffee Maker

Cheap and Portable - Yet Making Great Coffee

The rich, sweet, exotic taste of Vietnamese coffee is wildly popular in restaurants. To reproduce this taste at home you will need a Vietnamese coffee maker which is inexpensive and easy to purchase. Here I will tell you how to make Vietnamese coffee, how the Vietnamese coffee filter works and where to buy it.

Vietnamese coffee maker

The most well known Vietnamese coffee drink is a concoction of dark coffee and condensed milk over ice. This drink is called ca phe sua da which means iced milk coffee. If you exclude the ice, the drink is called ca phe sua nong - hot milk coffee. The proportion is about 1/3 sweetened condensed milk to coffee (or to taste). The taste is not unlike melted ice cream, with a rich mouth feel. You can obviously use the Vietnamese coffee maker also to make plain hot black coffee - ca phe den nong. Although ca phe den nong is not very popular in the west, it is certainly worth a try (especially if you use coffee with chicory).

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

What You'll Need
  • Ground dark roast coffee or coffee with chicory (the grind should be fairly coarse - between French press and drip coffee) Not sure which coffee to use in your Vietnamese coffee maker?
    For authentic flavor it's best to use Vietnamese coffee with chicory. You can try Trung Nguyen, Cafe Du Monde, Medaglia d'Oro, French Market, or even Luzianne. If you'd rather just have a good, fresh ground bean, any dark roast will do the trick.
  • Boiling water
  • Vietnamese coffee press
  • Sweetened condensed milk (optional)
  • Ice cubes (optional)

Instructions for making Vietnamese coffee
  • Put 3 rounded teaspoons of coffee into the brewing chamber and screw the perforated lid down on the grounds. It should be snug, but not tight (this part can take a little practice.)
  • Put the sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of a coffee cup (or glass, if you want to watch the process).
  • Place the coffee maker on the rim of the cup and pour just enough hot water (between 195°F and 205°F) to cover the upper disc. Wait for about 20 seconds for the water to seep into the coffee.
  • You may need to adjust the tension on the screw so that coffee starts dripping slowly out the bottom of the press. Bear in mind that loosening the top disc speeds up the brewing process, but also weakens the resulting coffee and adds sediment to the brew.
  • Now fill in the coffee maker with hot water, cover it with the lid and wait until all coffee drips into your cup. It should take about 5 minutes if you have adjusted the screw right.
  • Once the liquid has stopped dripping into your cup you can stir, add ice, and enjoy!

How Vietnamese Coffee Maker Works

The Vietnamese coffee filter resembles a mug sitting on top of a plate. The rim of the plate allows the maker to sit right on top of the coffee cup that the brew will be drunk from. The middle of the plate has tiny perforations and acts as a built-in filter. Above this is a threaded rod. The top of the press, also perforated, screws into the rod.

So you have two perforated discs that form a sort of brewing chamber that holds the coffee tightly packed. You pour water over the upper disc, it then seeps through the upper disc, sieves its way through the coffee and finally trickles through the bottom filter into your cup. Very simple and effective. This is a slow way to extract flavor from the grounds and gives a unique taste to the end product.

Where to Buy Vietnamese Coffee Press

Vietnamese coffee maker is often called also Vietnamese coffee press or Vietnamese coffee filter. You can get it very cheaply at many Asian grocery stores. If you don't have any such shop nearby you can also order it from Amazon - still very affordable (especially if you buy it along with some other items to save on postage).

Further Reading

Coffee Makers: Various Ways to Brew Coffee