Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 26, 2012

No Need for Amphetamines, We’ve Got Vietnamese Coffee!

Café sua da, or ice coffee, is Vietnam’s answer to speed.  After drinking 2 café sua das over the course of an entire day, admittedly on a relatively empty stomach, I am awake at 5:30 in the morning. Over 12-hours since I drank the last drop of my second café sua da.  Awake and without the first hint of exhaustion, or even hint sleepiness pulling at my eyelid.

Vietnam is coffee country, and unlike Colombia where people often drink instant coffee, traditionally ground coffee is en vogue here.  You can hardly walk  a block in a city in Vietnam without happening across a coffee shop.  Cafes and drinking coffee is a huge part of daily life.  Traditional cafes throw their doors open to the street.  As if someone had robbed the country’s kindergartens, child-sized chairs surround miniature tables are set up on the street.

But these are just the street-side cafes.  There are of course the air conditioned chain cafes for tourists, or the stunning traditional coffee houses.  In fact some of one of most beautiful restaurants I have seen in Vietnam Vi Da Xua Garden café in Hue, Vietnam’s forbidden city.  Step through the formidable gateway to enjoy the remarkable landscaping.  Sit on the terrace waiting for your coffee to percolate, admiring the rich furnishings,  while waitresses in traditional dress assist you.

After having sampled coffee at fincas, or coffee farms, in Colombia, sipped espresso on the streets of Italy, and drunk delicious creations at some of the reportedly best coffee shops in Seattle and Portland.  No matter what you compare it to: Vietnamese coffee holds its own.

The thick black drink, so thick it’s syrup more than liquid, mixed with sweetened condensed milk, and poured over ice deserves its reputation.  Not only is it delicious, but it is some of the most potent coffee I have ever consumed.  You can’t use too much sweetened condensed milk, or it is too sweet, not enough and it’s too bitter.  There is an art to making and to drinking café sua da.

Wait for it to percolate, mix the coffee with the milk, pour it over ice, and wait.  After all, you can’t drink it too fast, or it doesn’t give the ice enough time to melt.

Caffeine doesn’t usually effect me very much, but wired wouldn’t even begin to describe what that coffee can do to you.  It may not even be the coffee alone but some sugar/coffee one-two punch. This drink may be delicious but handle with care.  It is serious stuff: not to be drunk on an empty stomach.


  1. Great post! I’m a great believer of coffee too 😉

  2. The apparatus you show is common in France. What is the crucial proportion of coffee to milk?

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