This Aeropress Vietnamese Coffee recipe combines strongly brewed coffee with condensed milk and cinnamon to make a coffee that tastes like a sweetened latte.
Vietnamese coffee brewers use a traditional Vietnamese coffee maker or dripper that brews a single serving of coffee directly into a mug with condensed milk at the bottom. An Aeropress is well suited to add a third-wave coffee spin to a Vietnamese coffee tradition because it's strong and brews directly into a mug.
A Vietnamese coffee maker is a simple, metal coffee dripper that has two metal filters. One filter is called a tamper and can be removed from the top. The other sits over the mug under the dripper.
A Vietnamese coffee maker looks like a little pot sitting on your mug and brews coffee slowly and strongly.
I love coffee culture. I love that every country and region has its own way of making coffee and I even think there's something poetic about how every household makes it differently.
My dad owns a Technovorna Moccamaster and it's a whole event when it's coffee time as the grandkids love to flick the switch and see the water bubble and go shooting up over to the filter.
It's a completely different experience at your house or your friend's house. We have a friend who was gifted a Tassimo coffee maker and the delight she gets from being able to offer lattes amidst a busy visit with kids makes it taste so good and feel so special.
And at home, I make pour over coffee in an intensely focused way. We chat as it brews or silently watch our caffeine juice come alive in the bottom of a carafe.
People often apologize when making coffee for us when we're visiting but I say no. Make coffee your way and let us enjoy the beauty of differing cultures, walk in each others' shoes and drink to every person's unique journey.
Similarly, I always look on a menu for how they serve coffee. I had Vietnamese coffee for the first time while out for lunch with my boss and was amazed by how sweet and milky it was - but still so strong.
One of my favourite restaurant experiences was when I was out for lunch with my brothers at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was a quiet day and we were the only ones there.
The owner, our server, was obviously multitasking as she took our orders and served us while working on paperwork.
I noticed she offered a 'coffee ceremony'.
Well, we had to order that.
And it didn't disappoint.
When we asked for it, she ran off and returned wearing a shawl and without explaining closed the restaurant doors. She then proceeded to walk around with a big stick of incense, ensuring the cloud of smoke travelled along every wall.
She then returned to the back and emerged with a frying pan of crackling and smoking coffee beans. She explained that the beans were to be shown to the drinkers before they were used.
She wafted the coffee smoke around the restaurant and went back to the kitchen. When she came out next she had a set of small mugs, popcorn and an Ethiopean coffee maker (a metal jug with grounds and water combined) and explained that we were to try it from oldest to youngest.
As the oldest, I was first.
She poured me a small cupful and asked, 'Would you like salt in it?'
"Would you like salt?"
"No, thank you."
She paused, and the excitement she had displayed as she was performing the coffee ritual up to this point disappeared. I was clearly doing something wrong. "You have to have salt with your coffee," she pressed.
Who was I to say no? I forced a laugh and gave in.
The coffee was strong and dark without being bitter. The salt brought out the flavours without making it salty. This coffee was unique and incredible.
She left the coffee with us once we had all tried it and explained it was traditional to eat popcorn with coffee in Ethiopia.
Coffee culture is great. My advice to you is to always say 'yes' when someone offers you coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make Vietnamese coffee iced by making Vietnamese coffee but brewing the Aeropress directly into a mug that contains three icecubes.
Vietnamese coffee is made of condensed milk and strongly brewed coffee. This recipe adds cinnamon to the Aeropress brewing process to give it extra flavour.
No. Although strong like espresso, Vietnamese coffee is brewed using gravity rather than pressure to get the water through and the coffee out.
Vietnamese coffee uses Robusta beans and therefore has twice as much caffeine as typical coffee brewed with Arabica beans. An 8oz cup of Vietnamese coffee has 265mg of caffeine. (This is the same as 4 shots of espresso.)
Because Vietnamese coffee has a unique brewing method and uses Robusta beans, it has a unique flavour profile that is very strong. Vietnamese coffee tastes like a dark roast but without bitterness and has a thicker texture. It tastes like a sweetened latte when combined with condensed milk.
Vietnamese coffee is so strong because it uses Robusta beans rather than Arabica which is what we're used to in North America. Robusta beans are known for producing a strong bitter taste and have nearly 3 times the caffeine of Arabica.
Condensed milk is the traditional way of making Vietnamese coffee; the sweet and milky flavours balance the bitter robusta coffee. Historically, fresh milk wasn't widely available in Vietnam so coffee brewers used condensed milk as it doesn't go bad outside the fridge.
How to Make Vietnamese Coffee (or or Cà phê sữa đá)
Boil water (about three times the amount of water your mug will hold ) and measure out 20 grams of fresh coffee beans.
Place 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk in a mug.
Grind the coffee beans finely so they look like powder and form a flat surface when you push your finger into them. Grind your beans more fine than you would for a coffee maker or pour over but not as fine as your would for your espresso maker.
Place a paper filter in the filter holder of an Aeropress and pour boiling water over it to rinse it.
Put the plunger in the chamber and pull it as far out as possible without breaking the seal. Place the entire thing upside down, plunger first.
Add the ground coffee and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to the chamber.
Slowly pour in 50 grams of water (to bloom the coffee beans, let gasses escape) and wait 30 seconds.
Pour 200 grams more water into the chamber and wait 15 seconds. Screw the filter holder (with a wet filter inside) onto the chamber and flip it onto your mug ( which has the condensed milk at the bottom).
Push down on the plunger until you feel a lot of resistance and pause while still maintaining some pressure. Wait 2 or 3 seconds and repeat until you reach the bed of coffee beans or hear a hiss.
Remove the Aeropress, unscrew the filter holder and pull out the plunger. This will make your Aeropress last longer.
Stir the condensed milk and coffee together and enjoy!
Tips for Making The Best Vietnamese Coffee with an Aeropress
- You can adjust the amount of cinnamon and/or sweetened condensed milk to your own preference.
- You can also exchange cinnamon for cardamom. We tried this and it was great! You may want to experiment with other flavours as well.
- Sweetened condensed milk cools down your coffee so plan to drink it right away or heat up the condensed milk before brewing.
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These Coconut Flour Oatmeal Cookies are soft and chewy with a great melt-in-your-mouth texture from the coconut flour.
Vietnamese Coffee in the Aeropress
Vietnamese Coffee Made With An Aeropress
- 1 Aeropress Coffee Maker
- 1 Gooseneck Kettle
- 1 Coffee Grinder
- 250 grams boiling water
- 20 grams ground coffee
- 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
- Boil about three times the amount of water as your mug will hold and measure out 20 grams of fresh coffee beans.
- Place 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk in a mug.
- Grind the coffee beans finely so they look like powder and form a flat surface when you push your finger into them.
- Place a paper filter in the filter holder of an Aeropress and pour boiling water over it to rinse it.
- Put the plunger in the chamber and pull it as far out as possible without breaking the seal. Place the entire thing upside down, plunger first.
- Add the ground coffee and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon to the chamber.
- Slowly pour 50 grams of water in (to bloom the coffee beans, let gasses escape) and wait 30 seconds.
- Pour 200 grams more water into the chamber and wait 15 seconds. Screw the filter holder (with a wet filter inside) onto the chamber and flip it onto your mug (with the condensed milk at the bottom).
- Push down on the plunger until you feel a lot of resistance and pause while still maintaining some pressure. Wait 2 or 3 seconds and repeat until you reach the bed of coffee beans or hear a hiss.
- Remove the Aeropress, unscrew the filter holder and pull out the plunger. This will make your Aeropress last longer.
- Stir the condensed milk and coffee together and enjoy!
‘Til next time,