Vietnamese coffee

Before visiting Vietnam, I’d read lots of raving accounts about Vietnamese coffee. Earlier this May, when Mr. P and I visited Saigon together with my folks, I of course made it a point to try the local coffee. We arrived to a scorching sun, and during our first outing to the Ben Thanh market, we stopped by a little roadside stall for drinks to quench our thirst. Perched on a stool beside a low table, I had my virgin taste of ca phe da, or iced Vietnamese black coffee. It was strong and flavourful, so unlike the watery versions often encountered in Bangkok and Singapore. Now I know why so many people sing praises of Vietnamese coffee. And for the subsequent three days in the city, I’d always order a cup of Vietnamese coffee for breakfast.

Before leaving Vietnam, my brother, Mr. P and I were adamant about getting ca phe phin (French drip filters) and Vietnamese coffee as souvenirs. We bought a few packs of ground coffee from Trung Nyugen, a popular cafe with outlets dotted across the city.

Upon returning to Bangkok, we were eager to recreate Vietnamese coffee at home. However, we placed the filters incorrectly and some of the coffee grounds got through, resulting in yucky, grainy brews. And we also thought we could compensate for the sweetness of condensed milk with sugar. Totally wrong!

After a few tries, we finally got the method and proportions correct, and Vietnamese coffee has become our staple weekend drink. Our favourite is ca phe sua nong, or hot milk coffee. Vietnamese coffee advocates suggest adding 1/3 inch of condensed milk, but we usually add just enough to balance the bitterness.

The only bad side to drinking Vietnamese coffee at home is the extra care needed to clean up the drip filters, making sure the ground coffee do not wash down the drains.

So if you go to Vietnam, do buy Vietnamese coffee and drip filters as souvenirs!

8 thoughts on “Vietnamese coffee

  1. I really like iced black coffee. I used to get it from Starbucks where they give me iced espresso so that it doesn’t taste like black water. Then came in TCC which is famous for this massive glass coffee drip thingy on display which emphasized that cold coffee can only be achieved by dripping water SLOWLY through a compact layer of ground coffee, which makes sense as I was taught to make coffee in the cafe properly by compressing as much coffee into a pellet as possible. Unfortunately there was a few years I had a bad reaction so i had to stay away. Slowly getting back to coffee now and I’m definitely going to buy one of those gadgets like you mentioned! One of my colleagues has that in the office for his coffee.

    Lastly, Trung Nguyen is also available in Liang Court! =D

  2. Hey, there’s a third coffee wave brewing in Singapore, so do check out some of the indie cafes—40 Hands; Papa Palheta; Loysel’s Toy; etc—when you’re back. Stop supporting Starbucks and TCC, heehee. And yes, do get this French drip filter if you can find it in Scotland or anywhere else, but do remember to buy Vietnamese roasted ground coffee and condensed milk too!

    • Ahh.. condensed milk. I am actually not a fan of condensed milk. I love TCC and Starbucks! hahaha I wished those interesting cafes had opened way before I left Singapore. Right, are you going back for CNY because I think we should start planning a massive foodie day out!

  3. I totally agree. Vietnamese coffee rocks but I think it has to be made by a Vietnamese in the Vietnamese way. I’ve had Vietnamese coffee in Vietnamese restaurants in Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong but nothing blew my mind like the glass of iced coffee I had in a pho restauarant in Vietnam.
    I bought some ground coffee home hoping to recreate the same euphoric results but fell short over and over again. I made Vietnamese coffee everyday for a month using condensed milk but it just wasn’t the same. I can’t wait to visit Vietnam again to experience the coffee and food all over again. It’s an amazing country and the people were so friendly.

    • I think Vietnamese coffee, just like food, always taste better in their place of origin, isn’t it? The taste, the atmosphere, maybe even the water used is different… Looks like you had a great time in Vietnam, you definitely should visit the country again!

  4. Pingback: Ca Phe Da – Vietnamese Iced Coffee « A Girl & Her Dot

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