Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

April 10th, 2010

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Vietnamese coffee (often listed as cafe sua da on Vietnamese “pho” noodle restaurant menus) is incredibly good.  It’s perfect for me because I’m the only real coffee drinker in the house and this makes a flavorful, authentic cup of coffee for one.  Its intense, robust flavor is way better than drip machine coffee in my opinion.

The trick is the filter.  Don’t be tempted to try and make some “Mr. Coffee” machine stuff and put condensed milk in it.  It won’t have the right flavor or strength.  You’ll need a Vietnamese coffee filter.  They sell them at a Vietnamese marketplace near me called Eden (made somewhat famous by a recent visit from Anthony Bourdain on his show No Reservations)  I think it costs about $3.

If you don’t have a Vietnamese grocery neaby, Amazon has a selection of these filters.  I just didn’t want to pay the shipping online, which costs as much as the filter itself.

The filters don’t usually come with much (or anything) in the way of instructions, so here is the rundown:

Making the coffee is quite easy.  If you make loose-leaf tea, you’ll feel right at home.  You’ll need:

  • A Vietnamese coffee filter.
  • 3 TB condensed sweetened milk (adjust to your taste).
  • 2-3 Tsp ground coffee – Cafe Du Monde is popular for this preparation.  Imported Vietnamese coffee is also good.
  • A cup to drip the coffee over.
  • A glass with ice.

Put the condensed milk in the coffee cup or glass to drip into.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Add the 2-3 Tsp coffee to the filter and screw the top piece down until just snug but not too tight.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Place the filter with coffee on top of the cup with the milk in it.

Add near-boiling water (the Zojirushi strikes again!) to the filter until about 1/4 full, let drip through.  It should take about 20 seconds if the filter top is screwed to the right tightness.  If it’s taking longer, simply loosen the filter top a little bit.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Add more water until the filter is full to the top.  It may not seem like much but this is plenty of liquid for most people when combined with the previous 1/4.  Cover and let sit for 5 minutes or so until all of the water has slowly dripped into the cup.

This is a good time to get a glass full of ice.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

You can lift and check to make sure the coffee is slowly dripping out.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Remove filter and set it on its overturned lid (to prevent spilling from the filter bottom).  Stir the contents of the cup.  You will see the condensed milk mixing with the coffee we just dripped.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Pour over ice and enjoy!

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)

What you’ll end up with should be a smooth, perfectly balanced brew of good, strong coffee and sweetened milk.  Delicious!  It packs quite a jolt of caffeine, too.

Vietnamese Coffee (Cafe Sua Da)
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“Tell me what you eat, I`ll tell you who you are.”
~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin