Vietnamese coffee ice cream

27 December 2011
by Phuoc

Một cà phê sữa đá và một cà phê đen nóng.

That is one iced coffee and one hot black coffee; our daily ritual in Vietnam. Either to start the day off or have a afternoon pick me up.

Introduced during French colonisation in the late 19th century (we gotta thank them for having a positive influence on our cuisine), Vietnam is now the 2nd top producer of coffee worldwide. Due to the limitation of fresh milk back in the day, sweetened condensed milk was use and still remains to be used today (I can’t imagine what it would taste like without it).

It is traditionally served in a Phin coffee filter; where a heaped tablespoon of ground coffee (although this is adjusted according to taste) is placed at the bottom of the filter cup and compacted with the filter press. The filter cup then sits on top of a saucer, which is placed on top of a cup containing about a quarter to half the amount of sweetened condensed milk and hot water is poured into the filter cup. The filter cup and saucer both have tiny holes on the bottom to allow for the coffee to slowly drip through; a process which could take 3-5 minutes (obviously the longer it drips through, the stronger the brew). The coffee and sweetened condensed milk mixture is then mixed and poured over a glass of ice. For those who prefer their coffee black, the sweetened condensed milk is omitted and you could either have it hot or cold.

With the iced coffee, you get a thick, sweet, syrupy coffee that you slowly sip on as you watch the world go by.

Sitting on tiny stools on the side of the road sipping our coffees and surrounded by cigarette smoke and constant commotion from others in the cafe or the motorcycles whizzing by, we couldn’t help but observe the different aspects of life happening in front of us. A few metres ahead, there would be a make-shift yet permanent barber along the wall of a street, people selling all types of things from fishes to pottery to fruit on bicycles or bamboo baskets and people snoozing wherever they can.

One day in Hanoi, we stumbled upon a cafe which was hidden upstairs, behind a store selling various coffee beans including the weasel coffee. It wasn’t busy or packed at all, only two teenage girls sat opposite us munching on their pumpkin seeds and gossiping. It was a nice little cafe to escape the hustle and bustle; a place where we could grab a refreshing drink and reflect on our day and watch the commotion on the street below.

Ant ordered a refreshing passionfruit smoothie (30000 VND/AU$1.50) whilst I wanted to be more adventurous and had the egg yolk coffee (cà phê trứng) (25000 VND/AU$1.25). By vigorously mixing an egg yolk in with hot coffee, the result is a warm, frothy and creamy caffeinated drink; it’s like drinking a liquidised tiramisu. As this was my second coffee for the day, I felt the buzz throughout my body. My hands were trembling! It was insane; a feeling that I’ve never experienced before from just 2 coffees.

Sen Cafe

Address: 24 Tạ Hiện

Hoàn Kiếm, Hànoi

Back home, in the first week or two, whenever I had a coffee, I would always screw up my face as I felt it wasn’t strong enough; even a piccolo latte wasn’t enough (I can’t do black coffee). I had bought a packet of Vietnam’s #1 coffee, Trung Nguyên‘s Gourmet Blend which is a blend of 4 types of coffee beans; Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa and Catimor.  Clutching onto every grain of coffee from this packet for as long as I could, I would indulge in a cup of cà phê sữa đá on the weekends to transport me back to the coffee houses of Vietnam (minus the pillows of smoke that would fill the air and the constant honking of the motorbikes). Until I found that I could get this coffee in good ol’ Cabramatta, now I have it when I have a spare 10 minutes to prepare it.

For this month’s Delicious Vietnam, I thought I’d make something to pay tribute to the last blogging event and also to the highlight of my year; this Vietnam holiday. This ice cream encapulates all that is associated with my beloved cà phê sữa đá; it is creamy, sweet and highly caffeinated.

This is my entry to the last Delicious Vietnam blogging event, founded by A Food Lover’s Journey and Ravenous Couple and hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey. This monthly blogging event celebrates Vietnamese cuisine by Vietnamese food lovers around the world. If you have a post you would like to contribute by the 31st of December 2011, please send them to Anh, for more information visit this post. All entries go in the running to win 1 of 2 copies of Luke Nguyen’s Indochine cookbook courtesy of Anh, and US participants go in the running to win 1 of 2 fish sauce prizes from Red Boat Fish Sauce.

A Facebook page has been created for you to share recipes and reviews with others and for those who want to keep updated with Vietnamese cuisine.


Adapted from here

Makes about 1.5L


600mL thickened cream

1/3 cup ground Vietnamese coffee

200mL sweetened condensed milk


  1. Add 300mL of thickened cream and ground coffee into a saucepan and heat over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to let cream cool.
  2. Strain the cream and throw out the ground coffee. Chill in refrigerator for 20mins.
  3. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly stir in condense milk and coffee-infused cream.
  5. Pour into an empty 2L ice cream container and freeze for 12 hours.


Print this recipe


  1. Tina @ bitemeshowme

    No matter what time of the day a ca phe sua da will always hit the spot! This ice cream will sure be a hit with the parentals 😉

  2. billy @ A Table For Two

    love love love vietnamese coffee. wish i can go back and sit on a tiny stool and sipping away a glass of iced cold ca phe sue da!

  3. Tina@foodboozeshoes

    That looks beyond delicious.. I was just craving coffee gelato the other day too… 😉

  4. Katherine

    Vietnamese Coffee is my absolute favourite. I drink it all the time. As an ice cream, what a perfect dessert for summer. I love the simplicity of this recipe. I am making this for sure.

  5. muppy

    yum, i so want this ice cream, definitely saving to try (yay no ice cream maker)
    i would love to visit vietnam 🙂

  6. Phuoc

    Tina: Yes! I gave some to my mum and she loved it.

    Billy: Me too, I wish to be back all the time!

    Tina: You should definitely make it, even I can’t believe how dead simple and quick it is to make. So worth it!

    Katherine: Awesome! Enjoy 🙂

    Muppy: Although I do have an ice cream maker, the fact that it takes up so much room to freeze for 24hours makes this recipe so appealing; quick and simple way to make ice cream. It’s great!

  7. john@heneedsfood

    What a great post! I can’t wait to get back to Vietnam and have that fabulous coffee again. LOVE this ice cream recipe! Am definitely making this.

  8. Nic@diningwithastud

    Love it 🙂 sounds absolutely delicious!! Perfect pick me up/afternoon (or a cheeky morning lol) tea

  9. Hotly Spiced

    A smoothie for just over a dollar! That makes a trip to Vietnam worthwhile. Happy New Year!

  10. Miss Piggy

    Great photos…I love the picture of the guy in his makeshift hammock, and the guy snoozing on the motorbike (how does he not fall off). I’d love too try proper Vietnamese coffee – in Vietnam of course.

  11. Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul

    OK! You’ve convinced me to get a Vietnamese coffee maker…just so I can produce that ice cream! Wow! Thanks again for your wonderful reviews and recipes…here’s to a great 2012! Happy New Year!

  12. Christina @ The Hungry Australian

    Your post makes me want to plan my next overseas trip 😀

    I love Vietnamese coffee – it’s just such a delicious caffeine shot! And coffee ice cream is one of my favourites – will definitely try your recipe this summer, Phuoc.

  13. Phuoc

    John: Oh me too! I’m dying to go back! Thanks and enjoy the ice cream 🙂

    Nic: Love that you can have ice cream at just about any time.

    Hotly Spiced: Happy New Year to you too! That’s what makes holidaying in Vietnam so awesome, it’s dirt cheap.

    Miss Piggy: Thanks! I was thinking the same thing too “How does he not all off!?” lol

    Peter: You can get them pretty cheap in Cabramatta and it’s such a different way to have coffee, but an experience you must have. Thanks Peter! Wishing you a fabulous and delicious new year too.

    Christina: It does that to me too, I want to go back to Vietnam straight away. Enjoy, it’s too damn easy to make!

  14. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    Have you tried recreating the egg yolk coffee? If you feel like experimenting, I am willing to be the guinea pig 🙂

    Your ice cream sounds wonderful, I really want to give it a go. Now to source coffee 😉

  15. Phuoc

    Sara: I haven’t tried yet, maybe one day.. I hope sourcing and pigging out is on the agenda soon 😛

  16. Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks

    Oh my, its wonderful! I’m going to have to track down one of those Phin Coffee Filters. It sounds amazing, I hope it isn’t too hard to find one in Australia. Thank you for opening my eyes to this wonderful new way of drinking coffee. I’m sure I’m going to love it 🙂

  17. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    I fell in love with the coffee when I was in Vietnam recently too. Especially the Legendee coffee from Trung Nguyên. I don’t usually drink coffee much but this converted me! 😀

  18. Phuoc

    Apple: I’m 100% sure you can find phin coffee filters in Cabramatta or on the “asian” side of Bankstown. I hope you find one soon so you can enjoy this amazing coffee. Mmmm….

    Lorraine: I am bias but it’s the best coffee in the world. It’s the sweetened condensed milk, it makes everything better 🙂

  19. beti

    it looks so smooth and delicious, lovely pictures!

  20. Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan

    Dear Phuoc,

    I’m not a coffee drinker but I did like aromas and flavours of Vietnamese coffee each time I visited Hanoi.

  21. Phuoc

    Beti: Thanks! It is delicious, but the best thing is that it’s easy and simple to prepare too!

    Chopinand: You can definitely feel the buzz after smelling the aromas in any of the cafes in Vietnam.

  22. shez

    That ice cream looks amazing – love the little flecks of ground coffee that appear through it. I’ve always wanted to go to Vietnam. My baby sister went without me in the Summer of 10/11 and I’ve regretted not jumping on a plane and joining her ever since!

  23. Jenny

    oooh yummo! I love vietnamese coffee since I’m lactose intolerant so it makes drinking coffee bearable!

  24. Martyna @ WholesomeCook

    OMG!!! I’m so making this ASAP! Love coffee, love ice cream, thanks for sharing!

  25. Phuoc

    Shez: Awww bummer! Vietnam is cheap anyway so I hope you get to go with her one day. I love that country!

    Jenny: It’s a shame you’re lactose intolerant but good to know that you can have Vietnamese coffee, I love it!

    Martyna: I love it. It’s so easy to make and is uber delish. Enjoy! 🙂

  26. Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse)

    YUM! It’s the condensed milk flavour in this which I love and which, I’m sure, makes for a wonderfully rich yet flavoursome ice-cream.

  27. JasmyneTea

    This would be amazing, I love ordering vietnamese coffe when I’m in Cabra, and I love the pictures of Vietnam too!

  28. Jen

    This is brilliant, the recipe looks so easy, I’m so making this. Dreaming of another visit to Vietnam now…

  29. Phuoc

    Rita: Yes indeed, it’s SO delicious!

    Jasmyne Tea: Thank you.

    Jen: Cool, I hope you enjoy it. I’m always dreaming of going back

  30. Girl Meets Sugar

    Can’t wait to try this coffee! I’ll be off to Vietnam in March for the first time yipeee!

  31. Phuoc

    Girl Meets Sugar: Awesome! I hope you enjoy your time there

  32. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy

    Thanks for telling me about this post! I have Vietnamese coffee on the brain now – can’t wait to try this 😀

  33. Phuoc

    Anna: HAHA yeah it can get like that sometimes… Just wait until you have it! You’ll be blaming me for your addiction 🙂

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