It took me no time at all in Vietnam to learn I love Vietnamese coffee, and especially their iced coffee. Now it doesn’t have to be swanky, weird-assed weasel coffee, made from beans eaten (and pooped) by honest to God weasels (I don’t even want to think about the collection process). Regular run-of-the mill Vietnamese coffee is just fine. It doesn’t even have to be brewed by a woman in a small boat with a brewing set-up – although the iced coffee I enjoyed that morning in the floating market near Can Tho was as good as it gets.
Note to self, I thought. Your mission is to learn to make this bodacious brew as soon as possible after getting back to Canada. Even while down for the count with that unfortunate combo of man-cold mixed with a dose of jet lag, I managed to get on the interwebs and order us up a couple phins, the single cup devices used to fix up the brew.
I sneezed and coughed my way to a grocery store today and picked up some stronger coffee than we usually drink, and also a supply of the other essential ingredient, sweetened condensed milk. I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I’ve had sweetened condensed milk in the house, but there is a first time for everything.
You start with the milk. Pour as much as you want in your cup, anywhere from just enough to take the edge off ,to the extra-sweet over-the-top deal lots of people in Vietnam seem to enjoy. Then add your coffee to the phin, place it on top of the cup and put the filter cover on top. Some models have little screws while others are simpler gravity filters. The water should be a little less than boiling. Slowly add a little water, enough to completely wet the grounds. Wait 20 seconds, then slowly add more water, filling the phin. It should take maybe 4 minutes for the water to drip through the coffee into your cup.
Once the brewing has completed, thoroughly stir the coffee until all the condensed milk gets mixed in. If it’s iced coffee you want, there is one more step. Load up a glass with ice, pour the freshly brewed coffee over the ice, stir and enjoy.
I think I’m going to brew one right now.