Authentic Vietnamese coffee -- Cà phê su'a dá (literally, "coffee, milk and ice") -- is very easy to make, but it requires a couple of things that might not already be in your coffee-making arsenal. The results are worth the extra effort. First, there's the coffee. One of the most popular brands is Trung Nguyen, which is readily available online, and can be found at some Asian specialty markets. You can also look for Cafe du Monde, a popular coffee-and-chicory blend that's typically associated with New Orleans that's popular with Louisiana's substantial Vietnamese population. Vietnamese coffee tends to be a darker roast, and if you're preparing using the traditional method, it's a coarse grind similar to what would be used in a French press. If you can't find Trung Nguyen, our Union Square dark roast whole beans or Park Ave Dark single-serve coffee packs will tide you over. You're not done just because you have your coffee. You'll also want a Vietnamese coffee filter, called a Phin filter. It looks like a metal top hat, typically costs between three and six bucks, and doesn't even need filters. They come in a variety of sizes, with the small size delivering four to six ounces of brewed coffee, and the larger ones giving you a larger serving size. To finish the coffee, you'll need some sweetened condensed milk (you can use milk or cream and add sugar, but the taste won't be quite the same).
A Phin, the traditional Vietnamese coffee filter
Now, let's brew. Coat the bottom of your glass with sweetened condensed milk and set it aside. Your coffee filter comes with a bottom filter, top filter, and lid (on some, the base that fits over the cup or mug is also a separate piece). Put about two tablespoons (one level coffee scoop) of coffee into the bottom filter. Give it a gentle shake or a tap on the countertop so the grounds are evenly distributed. Next, insert the top filter, being sure that it puts just a bit of pressure on the grounds below it. Too tight and your coffee will take forever to brew; too loose, it'll brew too quickly. Bring your water to just below boiling. Pour enough water over the grinds to moisten them, and allow them to bloom for about 30 seconds. Pour water into the filter 'til it's about half an inch from the top. Once the coffee starts to drip, you should see a drop per second. If it's dripping faster, tighten the filter. The coffee should take about eight minutes to finish dripping. Once it's done, stir. Serve over ice if you'd prefer an iced coffee, or just drink it as is (it's also quite good when it's hot). Learn More: From Vice's sister site Munchies, there's Henry McKenna's Vietnamese Iced Coffee is the Only Way to Cure Jetlag, along with an alternate recipe for Vietnamese Iced Coffee Or, if video's more your speed, try this tutorial:
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