What is cà phê đá?
Vietnamese iced coffee, also known as cà phê đá or cafe da is a traditional beverage from the Land of the Blue Dragon.
Cà phê đá is made with medium to coarse ground Robusta dark roast coffee from Vietnam. It is thicker and more intense than traditional Arabica coffee. It is prepared with a small traditional metal Vietnamese drip filter called phin cà phê. With this drip filter method, hot coffee slowly drops into a cup after hot water is added.
The resulting cup, albeit small, bursts with intense flavors. It is either consumed black (cà phê nau), or with a splash of sweetened condensed milk (cà phê sữa đá).
Once the hot coffee is ready, it is poured into a glass of ice to make the Vietnamese iced coffee.
Cà phê sữa đá is typically prepared with a couple tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk added to the cup prior to the drip filter process.
Coffee in Vietnam
Although coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by a French Catholic priest, the country did not become a major coffee producer until the opening of the economy after the war. Coffee became a popular beverage with regional variations. Because of limited availability of fresh milk at the time, the French and Vietnamese started using sweetened condensed milk as a substitute.
Vietnam is now the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil, and the first producer of the Robusta variety.
What are the differences between Arabica and Robusta?
The two main varieties of coffee differ in taste, growing conditions, as well as price.
Arabica coffee beans tend to be sweeter and softer in taste, with undertones of sugar, fruits, and berries. Arabica has a higher acidity, with a winey taste that is characteristic of coffee with excellent acidity. Robusta, on the other hand, has a stronger and harsher taste, with a grain-like overtone and nutty aftertaste. Robusta beans contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans, and coffee connoisseurs generally consider Robusta to be of inferior quality compared to Arabica. Arabica coffee beans contain between 1% and 1.5% caffeine while Robusta beans contain between 1.6% and 2.7% caffeine, which contributes to its bitter taste.
Robusta is easier to grow and it can grow at lower altitudes than Arabica plants. They are also less vulnerable to pests and weather conditions. They produce more crop and grow much faster than Arabica plants, which require several years to come to maturity.
Different methods for preparing coffee
Drip filter method
Drip-filtered or drip-brewed coffee is brewed with the help of hot water slowly seeping through roasted, ground coffee beans contained in a filter. With this method, water absorbs the coffee oils, flavors and essences, as it passes through the filter.
The used ground coffee beans are kept in the filter as the liquid drips into a cup or a pot. Paper-based disposable coffee filters were invented in Germany by Melitta Bentz in 1908. However, in order to reduce waste, people have also used fine wire mesh filters, which can be reused. Many Latin American and African countries still prepare drip-filtered coffee using a small reusable bag made of cloth.
French press method
A French press or coffee press is a coffee brewing vessel that was patented by Italian designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. It typically asks for a coarser ground coffee, as finer grounds would seep through the press filter and into the coffee. With the French press method, you place ground coffee in the empty beaker and pour hot water (almost boiling at 200 F). After about five minutes (or more for a more intense flavor), the plunger is pressed to separate the ground coffee and keep it at the bottom of the beaker. At that time, the coffee is poured into a cup.
Cold brewing method
Cold brewing, which is also known as cold water extraction or cold pressing, defines the process of steeping coffee grounds in cooler water, whether room temperature or chilled water, for a longer period, usually 12 to 24 hours.
Once the steeping process is complete, the coffee grounds can be filtered out of the water using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, a French press, or other methods.
The coffee concentrate can then be diluted with water or milk, served hot over ice, or even blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate or caramel.
Cold-brewed coffee originated in Japan, where its was the traditional coffee brewing method for centuries. Slow-drip cold brew (or Kyoto-style) refers to the process where water drips through coffee grounds at room temperature over several hours.
With cold-brewed coffee, the beans produce a chemical profile that is different from conventional hot water brewing methods. Coffee beans contain a number of ingredients that are more easily released at higher temperatures, including caffeine, oils, as well as fatty acids.
When coffee is brewed at a cooler temperature, the end result can be up to 70% lower in acidity and it also produces a coffee that contains less caffeine.
A coffee percolator is a device that is used to brew coffee by constantly cycling the boiling liquid through the coffee grounds using gravity until the required intensity is reached. Those stove-top or standalone percolators were popular until the 1970s, until they were replaced by drip coffee makers.
The preparation of Turkish coffee, which is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey confirmed by UNESCO, consists of immersing fine coffee grounds with sugar (if sweetened) in water and heating until reaching boiling point, and obtaining a large amount of foam.
In the Middle East, four degrees of sweetness are offered. In Turkish, they are known as sade (plain; no sugar), az şekerli (little sugar; ½ teaspoon of sugar), orta şekerli (medium sugar; 1 teaspoon of sugar), çok şekerli (a lot of sugar).
Moka is a coffee that is brewed in a moka pot. A moka pot, an Italian invention first produced by Bialetti in the early 1930s, is a stovetop coffee maker which produces coffee by steeping steam-pressurized hot water through ground coffee, but at a lower pressure than an espresso maker.
Because of the higher pressure, the mixture of water and steam reaches temperatures well above 212 F that result in a more efficient extraction of the caffeine and flavors, and therefore in a stronger brew than the one obtained by the drip filter method.
The popular espresso coffee is brewed by using an espresso machine that forces a small amount of nearly boiling water and steam (at about 200 F) under pressure through very finely ground and compacted coffee.
The espresso machine was patented by Gaggia in 1901 from a machine that was developed earlier in 1884. The popularity of espresso coffee spread to the UK in the 1950s where people more often consumed it with milk as cappuccino. It became more popular in the United States in the 1980s with the help of larger chains of coffee shops.
Espresso is denser and more concentrated than coffee brewed by any other method. It typically boasts a creamy foam on top that is called “crema” in Italy. Espresso is used as the base for a number of coffee beverages including latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, and Americano.
Americano or Cafe Americano is a coffee drink that is prepared by adding hot water to a single or double-shot of espresso, depending on its required strength. Variations of Americano include long black and lungo.
Lungo or cafe lungo (or café allongé in French) is similar to an Americano. However, instead of adding water to an espresso, all of the water is brewed.
Café Cubano, also called Cuban coffee, Cuban espresso, cafecito, Cuban pull, or Cuban shot, is now popular throughout Florida. It consists in brewing the coffee, more often espresso, with sugar. When it is served with a splash of milk, it is called cortadito. Served with steamed milk, it is known as café con leche.
Doppio defines a double shot of espresso, served in a demitasse cup.
A Cafe Zorro is a double espresso (doppio) with the same volume of hot water added.
An espresso Romano is a shot of espresso served with a slice of lemon on the side. The lemon is sometimes rubbed along the rim of the cup in order to accentuate the sweetness of the espresso.
Unlike espresso Romano, Guillermo is an espresso that is poured over slices of lime. It is also sometimes served on ice, with a touch of milk.
Unlike a lungo (long in Italian), which is prepared with double the amount of water, a ristretto (“limited” or “restricted” in Italian) is a short shot of espresso made with about half the amount of water.
Coffee with espresso
Regular coffee (slow brewed) can be combined with espresso to increase the flavor intensity or the caffeine content. It is often called “red eye,””shot in the dark” or “depth charge”.
Coffee and tea beverages
Black tie and Red tie
Black tie is obtained by combining Thai iced tea with a double shot of espresso. Red tie consists in the same beverage but with one shot of espresso.
The term chai latte is often used to indicate that the steamed milk of a caffè latte is flavored with a spiced tea concentrate instead of with espresso. You can add espresso shots to make it a dirty chai latte.
Yuenyeung is a popular Hong Kong drink, that is prepared with a mixture of coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea. It can be served hot or cold.
Coffee and alcohol beverages
Irish Coffee is a mixture of coffee and Irish whiskey, sometimes topped with whipped cream.
Caffè corretto is an Italian drink, prepared with a shot of espresso “corrected” with a shot of liquor such as grappa, brandy or sambuca (anise liquor).
Karsk, kaffegök or svartkopp is made with coffee and moonshine.
Rüdesheimer Kaffee is a coffee beverage from Rüdesheim in Germany that was invented in 1957 by Hans Karl Adam. It is prepared with Asbach Uralt brandy, coffee and sugar, and is topped with whipped cream.
A Pharisäer is a coffee cocktail that is popular in the Nordfriesland district of Germany. It consists of a black coffee and a double shot of rum, topped with whipped cream.
Barraquito is a drink from Tenerife (Canary Islands) that is made with espresso, condensed sweetened milk, foamed milk, lemon, cinnamon and Licor 43, the famous Spanish liquor..
A Carajillo is a Spanish beverage prepared with coffee and brandy, whisky, anisette, or rum.
Vietnamese iced coffee is a very easy to make coffee and is a very refreshing and energizing beverage for hot summer days!
Cà phê đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) is a popular Vietnamese beverage which is prepared with Robusta drip-filtered coffee, poured over ice, and that is often sweetened with condensed milk.
- 2 tablespoons Robusta medium grind coffee (or medium coarse grind)
- 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Boil water in a kettle or a pot.
Add the sweetened condensed milk to a coffee cup.
Fill a separate tall glass with ice cubes.
Spoon the coffee into the Vietnamese coffee drip filter (phin).
Rotate the press to compact the coffee grounds. The tighter the grounds are pressed, the longer it will take for the coffee to brew and the stronger it will be.
Pour in the hot water and cover with the drip filter lid.
The coffee will slowly drip into the cup.
Once it is ready, stir the coffee and the sweetened condensed milk.
Pour over the ice in the tall glass.