5 Ways to Upgrade Your Iced Coffee
If you’re reading this, it may come as no surprise that we’re big fans of Vietnamese iced coffee. It is such a great beverage that has become immensely popular outside of Vietnam despite its humble beginnings in Vietnamese coffee shops and street vendors.
In this article, we’re going to teach you how to take your Vietnamese iced coffee to the next level: first, we’ll go over the base of brewed Vietnamese coffee and then we’ll cover five different recipes that are easy modulations to the base. Each of these recipes feature just a few extra ingredients to make a unique kind of iced coffee.
The Base: Vietnamese coffee
Brewing coffee with a phin filter and adding ice is a delicious way to enjoy coffee any day. Vietnamese iced coffee can be modulated to create a number of delicious coffee drinks. Using phin filter brewed coffee for drinks yields a concentrated brew similar to espresso in that it’s very low in volume, very strong, and very concentrated in flavor. Vietnamese phin drip coffee is often referred to as a style of Vietnamese espresso!
When making Vietnamese coffee, it’s important to use coffee grown and produced in Vietnam. As such, we recommend 100% robusta coffee or a 50/50 robusta arabica blend. Why? Vietnam is the leading producer of robusta coffee in the world, and the second biggest producer of coffee overall behind Brazil! Robusta coffee differs from other species of coffee– namely arabica– in that it has a deep, bold flavor often with flavor notes of chocolate, nuts, whiskey, and more. When paired with the recipes in this guide, the flavors complement each other quite well and create unique coffee drinks that are both easy to make and incredibly delicious.
Now, the next step concerns how to brew the coffee. There are two ways you can approach this
- Hot: you brew coffee as you normally would, and then add ice. It’s straightforward and simple.
- Over ice: this way of brewing iced coffee is becoming ever more popular. You brew the coffee over ice, which means that you’ve already added ice to your mug or decanter before setting the phin on top.
The classic Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá), made by adding condensed milk to coffee, is already an incredibly delicious drink that people all over the world enjoy daily. But as coffee lovers, we suffer from a restlessness that drives us to try to shake things up a little and, if we’re lucky, make a great drink in the process.
These are five ways to upgrade your iced coffee:
If you are a lover of the creaminess of Vietnamese iced coffee, we highly recommend our coconut iced coffee! Coconut milk, the star ingredient of this drink, can be easily added to base iced coffee. The flavor pairs well with the nuttiness and chocolate notes of robusta coffee, and the texture of coconut milk with condensed milk is velvety and, dare we say, irresistible.
Pro tip: use a tall glass for a better visual experience!
- 2 ounces robusta/Vietnamese coffee (think Truegrit or Loyalty)
- 1.5 ounces coconut milk. Canned coconut milk is creamier and thicker, and much more suited for this drink than carton milk. If there’s any secret to this recipe, it’s this one.
- 1.5 ounces milk of choice
- 1.5 tablespoons of condensed milk
- Ice as needed
- Brew coffee regularly using a phin filter. Note: if brewing espresso, brew a double shot.
- Keep the brewed coffee in a separate cup.
- Take your tall glass and add condensed milk to it.
- Open the coconut milk can and pour it into a milk pitcher. Whisk for about 15 seconds.
- Add coconut milk on top of the condensed milk. Pour right into the center.
- Add milk. Same as with the coconut milk, aim at the center of the glass.
- Now stir well using a spoon or a stirrer.
- One by one, add ice cubes until they fill the glass all the way up.
- Pour the brewed Vietnamese coffee over top.
- Add garnish if desired (such as coconut shavings) and enjoy!
If you don’t have access to canned coconut milk, powdered coconut milk is an alternative option. You can use double the amount of powder-to-water ratio to achieve a creamy milk that is close to canned coconut milk.
Another great way to upgrade your iced coffee is to add ube mix. Ube is the name of a purple yam native to Southeast Asia that has a deep, vibrant purple color. It’s sweet in taste—much like a sweet potato—and has been used throughout history as an ingredient in desserts. In Filipino cuisine, ube is used to make all sorts of desserts.
The sweet taste of ube plus its smooth, silky consistency makes it a great ingredient for iced coffee and can even substitute condensed milk.
- 1 ounce of ube mix*
- 2 ounces of milk of choice
- 3-4 ounces of brewed coffee
- Ice as needed
- Grab a tall glass and add the ube mix.
- Add milk. Aim at the center of the glass.
- Add ice cubes one by one all the way up.
- Pour your phin brewed coffee over the ice.
*To make the ube mix, combine 1/2 can of all-natural, unsweetened coconut milk (about 7 fl oz) with 2 teaspoons of ube extract, 3 oz of simple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. It keeps in the fridge and makes multiple servings!
Ube, while not a common ingredient, is very delicious and easy to fall in love with. It’s growing popularity is a testament to its delicious taste! Paired with bold nuttiness of robusta coffee, the sweet and silky ube yields a tasty and not-too-sweet drink perfect for any occasion.
Pandan is a plant that is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia as well as South Asia. It has a rich green color and it is used in many cuisines to give aroma, infuse flavor, and even as food coloring. Sweetened pandan paste is a popular ingredient in all sorts of foods. Add it to your iced coffee for a delicious, floral flavor.
- 2 ounces ground robusta coffee (Truegrit highly recommended)
- 2 to 4 ounces of milk of choice (less milk makes for a thicker consistency and vice versa)
- ¼ tsp pandan paste
- ¼ tsp honey
- ¼ tsp water (preferably soft water)
- Ice as needed
- Brew 2-3 ounces of coffee using a phin filter.
- In a tall glass, mix pandan paste, honey and water. Stir vigorously for ten seconds.
- Add ice and milk.
- Lastly, pour coffee and mix gently.
Pandan paste is easily found in Asian markets in most cities. If not available, you can get it on the internet.
Flavored milk and coffee go hand-in-hand. Asian countries, such as India and Japan, are big consumers of flavored milk and are in part responsible for the popularization of flavored milk beyond just a children’s beverage. Surprisingly enough, however, Australia is the biggest consumer of flavored milk in the world!
Strawberry milk is arguably the best milk flavor out there (no bias). It is delicious, pink, and a great way to level up your iced coffee!
- 0.5-1 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbsp Nesquik Strawberry Milk Powder
- 2 ounces milk of choice (we recommend dairy milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk for this particular beverage)
- 3-4 ounces phin brewed coffee
- Ice cubes
- Brew coffee and set apart.
- Pour condensed milk into a tall glass.
- Add 1 tbsp of milk.
- Pour the 2 tablespoons of Nesquik Strawberry Milk Powder and stir well.
- Pour ice cubes all the way to the top of the glass.
- Add the rest of the milk.
- Finally, pour the coffee over the ice and stir.
We used Nesquik powder because it’s widely available and it tastes great. But if you find actual strawberry milk, you use 2 ounces of that instead. There’s plenty of Korean, Japanese, and other Asian brands circulating in the U.S. that carry flavored milk products.
Matcha is the name of a very special kind of green tea. The tea trees are grown exclusively in the shade—this causes chlorophyll levels to skyrocket, which is why matcha is of a darker color than any other kind of green tea. It also ups production of caffeine and has about ¾ the amount of caffeine of coffee (and many times the antioxidants!). The tea leaves are then made into a powder, which is what we know as matcha.
- 2 to 4 ounces Vietnamese coffee (Loyalty recommended)
- 2 ounces milk of choice (almond milk complements the flavor of matcha well)
- 2 tsp matcha
- 1 tsp sugar (or sweetener of choice)
- 1 ounce whipping cream
- Ice as needed
- In a bowl, add a dash of the milk.
- Sift matcha into it.
- Add sugar and whipped cream; mix thoroughly for 2 minutes until foamy.
- Brew your coffee using a phin filter.
- Add ice, coffee, and milk—in that order—to your glass/mug.
- Add matcha cream foam.
- Stir and enjoy!
It’s important to note that, because you’re mixing matcha and coffee, this is a beverage with enough caffeine for two. Consume in moderation.
As for the matcha, there are two types: culinary grade and ceremonial grade. You can make do with culinary grade, but ceremonial is best for drinking. Culinary grade has a grassier taste and is most commonly used for cooking and not drinking.
- If using milk alternatives, try to go for those that are on the frothier side, as iced coffee relies heavily on texture. Cashew, oat, and coconut milk are some examples of frothy vegan milks.
- Condensed milk can be substituted with simple syrup.
- If using artificial sweetener, we recommend liquid stevia as it’s more convenient. 5 drops of liquid stevia equals one teaspoon of sugar.
- Phin filter coffee is ideal, but you can also use any other type of strong coffee or bold coffee in its stead.
There are a myriad of ways to prepare iced coffee. The idea is that, even though there are already delicious recipes out there, we can still have a lot of fun experimenting with new recipes such as the ones aforementioned. What’s even more fun is, after you’ve practiced a lot and experimented with many different recipes, you can make your own! And no better time of the year to get good at this than iced coffee season!