How to make Vietnamese Coffee with Condensed Milk (Ca Phe Sua)

Vietnamese coffee, you love it or you hate it. Strong, bitter, yet extremely sweet, and a legend in its own time! This particular cup of Java seems to have a massive following worldwide, everyone singing sweet rhapsodies in its name.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

How to make Vietnamese Coffee
Vietnamese Coffee with a phin

What is Vietnamese Coffee?

For starters, it’s intimidating and it’s addictive.

Coffee, like baguette, was introduced to Vietnam by the French, but oh boy, have the Vietnamese turned it into a tradition for the ages!

The most famous Vietnamese coffee amongst non locals is the one you see in the images here, dark strong coffee, dripping onto an inch high of sweet condensed milk. This is known as ca phe sua (milk coffee) in Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of the south, and ca phe nua (brown/dark coffee) in the north.

To anyone born anywhere within Asia, like me, Vietnamese coffee is not all that big a deal; because that’s how we drink our coffee and tea, with condensed milk. Before the advent of Starbucks et al, naturally.

How do you like your Coffee?

I like mine any which way I can get it! Black, white, sweet, hot, cold, in a shake, in a smoothie, in cake, and in supplements. As you can see above, it makes a great workout drink. And one product I recently discovered, is Organo Gold, I just love their various coffee selections!

Coffee, Avocado and Banana Smoothie
Coffee, Avocado & Banana Smoothie

How to make Vietnamese Coffee?

It’s the same process as making any coffee with a coffee drip and coffee beans:

  1. Fill a small coffee cup or glass with condensed milk
  2. Coarse coffee beans are placed in the Vietnamese coffee filter called phin, which is placed on the cup
  3. The beans are lightly moistened with a little room temperature water, so they swell up and slow the drip down
  4. Hot water is poured over the ground coffee and allowed to drip onto the condensed milk, very, very slowly (3-4 minutes)
  5. Drink up!
phin vietnamese coffee filter
Phin, Vietnamese coffee filter

Vietnamese Coffee Filter

The Vietnamese coffee filter is called a phin. In Vietnam, you’ll find them everywhere, especially at shops that cater to tourists, like Ben Thanh Market. Here in the UK, they are easily found online, Amazon being an example. And if you happen to have a large Vietnamese community near you, well, that’s a no brainer!

The phin is a lightweight, cheap and cheerful contraption made up of 4 parts, from the top:

  • the lid (which will double up as a drip tray after)
  • a flimsy, lightweight plunger/press
  • the drip cup, which has tiny holes at the bottom
  • the filter tray, which the cup sits on
vietnamese coffee filter
the plunger, and the whole thing sitting on the lid

Other types of Vietnamese Coffee

Starbucks has nothing on Vietnamese Coffee! There is quite the adventurous range of coffee to be had in Vietnam! And slowly, but surely, I’ll get around to them all on this site! After all, it’s only taken me 3 years to do this one! Here are just some different types of Vietnamese coffee:

Coffee Smoothie (Sinh Toh Ca Phe)

Ok, nothing extraordinary about this one, except that the Vietnamese will add coffee to their fruit juices. Not so sure about that one! But see my coffee smoothie above? I thought I was being cool with that combination. Until I saw it in Hanoi! Huh! It is quite the thing there and is known as sinh to ca phe chuoi bo!

Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung)

Now this is a little different. That is, if you didn’t spend years in a gym being fed egg smoothies with coffee and milk by your gym instructor!

Seriously though, I really like this combination, condensed milk and egg yolk are whipped to a light, airy froth and poured over thick black coffee. This is something I do from time to time, to my kids’ disgust!

Yoghurt Coffee (Sua Chua Ca Phe)

Again, this is a beautiful combination, coffee adds just that little bit of flavour to the bland, sour yoghurt. Not unlike the many flavoured yoghurts you find these days.

coffee in vietnam in a glass with coffee filter above
This was in Saigon

Vietnamese Coffee Beans

Any strong coffee will do to make a good cup of Vietnamese coffee. As to whether you should be using arabica or robusta beans, well, that’s a matter of preference; the Arabica is naturally the coffee of choice for many connoisseurs.

While the French may have introduced the arabica to Vietnam, today, Vietnamese coffee is mainly made with the robusta bean. In fact, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of the cheaper robusta coffee, and 2nd largest producer of coffee overall, behind Brazil.

Robusta coffee is harsher and stronger on the palate, and for the true Vietnamese experience, that’s what you want.

Vietnamese Coffee Stall
Vietnamese Coffee Stall at Ben Thanh Market, also selling the filters

Vietnamese Coffee without a Vietnamese Coffee Filter

Just make your strong black coffee the way you usually would. No instant coffee though. Use a French press, a moka post or your regular drip filter. Whatever you have, just make your coffee strong, and gently pour it over the condensed milk. Or not. You are, after all, going to be stirring that coffee and milk!

Let’s take a look at how to make Vietnamese coffee!

Shall we get our aprons on?

If you like the recipe and article, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood.

Lin xx

How to make Vietnamese Coffee

How to make Vietnamese Coffee (Ca Phe Sua)

How to make Vietnamese Coffee with condensed milk, using a phin, the traditional Vietnamese coffee filter.
5 from 35 votes
Print Pin Add to Collection
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: coffee
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 48kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 heaped Tbsp condensed milk
  • 1 heaped Tbsp coarsely ground strong coffee beans
  • 2 Tbsp room temperature water
  • Hot water just off the boil (count 10 seconds after boiling)


  • Place your condensed milk in your glass or cup.
  • Place the ground coffee beans in your drip cup and press down with the plunger to flatten.
  • Pour in 2 Tbsp of room temperature water, and count to 10. This will allow the beans to swell up and slow down the drip, making a stronger and more flavourful brew.
  • Pour the hot water, almost to the top, stopping about 1-2cm (1/2") from the rim. Or less water, if you want a stronger coffee.
  • Leave to drip, it should take about 3 minutes in all. The initial drip may be faster, it will soon slow down. If not, your coffee grains need to be coarser.
  • Stir and enjoy!


Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 56mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
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23 thoughts on “How to make Vietnamese Coffee with Condensed Milk (Ca Phe Sua)”

  1. Gregory Ricca

    5 stars
    Recently completed a 2.5-week trip to Vietnam. The coffee is amazing. This article is as well written as it is accurate. We make Vietnamese coffee at home now.

    1. That’s awesome, Gregory, I’m pleased you liked the article. It’s my favourite way of drinking coffee too, how I grew up drinking it in Singapore.

  2. 5 stars
    Such an interesting and informative read! I’m a coffee fan too and very intrigued by the yogurt and egg coffee flavoured coffees you have mentioned here.

  3. Being an Asian, I haven’t heard of Vietnamese Coffee, but after knowing how to make it, I’ll surely try at home. It seems really easy! Thanks for Sharing.

  4. We love Vietnamese coffee! And the owner of our favorite Vietnamese restaurant gave us that drip so that we can recreate the experience at home! 😀

  5. Autumn Murray

    YAAAAS! I have loved Vietnamese coffee ever since we first vacationed in Vietnam a little over two years ago. I am definitely trying this recipe out. Thank you!

  6. Becca Wilson

    This coffee looks like it would be interesting to try. I typically like my coffee with a lot of flavoring.

  7. Wow, Id heard of Vietnamese coffee but hadn’t realised how different it is to the stuff I usually drink! I can;t wait to try it – hoping to get to Vietnam in the next few years,

  8. Monidipa Dutta

    I love coffee, I love anything caffeinated. I have all the required stuff with me you have mentioned here and I am sick at home today so I will make it now.

  9. I would try Vietnamese coffee for sure, this is a great idea to try. I drink a lot of coffee daily so I will try this.

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