At its simplest, cà phê đá is made using medium to coarse ground dark roast Vietnamese-grown coffee with a small metal Vietnamese drip filter (phin cà phê). After the hot water is added, the drip filter releases drops of hot coffee slowly into a cup. This finished cup of hot coffee is then quickly poured into a glass full of ice making the finished Vietnamese iced coffee.
A popular way to drink Vietnamese coffee is cà phê sữa đá, which is Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. This is done by filling up the coffee cup with 2-3 tablespoons or more of sweetened condensed milk prior to the drip filter process.
Coffee was introduced into Vietnam in 1857 by a French Catholic priest in the form of a single Coffea arabica tree. Vietnam quickly became a strong exporter of coffee with many plantations in the central highlands. The beverage was adopted with regional variations. Because of limitations on the availability of fresh milk, as the dairy farming industry was still in its infancy, the French and Vietnamese began to use sweetened condensed milk with a dark roast coffee.
There is Vietnamese egg coffee called cà phê trứng that is served at cafes in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is made with brewed coffee, chicken egg yolk, and condensed milk. It has a similar texture and taste to tiramisu or eggnog.
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