Photo cred - The Sugar Hit
North American iced coffee has nothing on its Vietnamese cousin. Our native cold coffee is basically just regularly brewed coffee with ice thrown in, and maybe some flavour syrup, you know, if you're at Starbucks. Cold Brew coffee is a tad more legit, yet still pales in comparison to Ca phe da , or more commonly referred by us Westerners as Vietnamese iced coffee.
What makes Vietnamese iced coffee so special? Well, first, rather than being brewed in a crummy coffee machine, a true VIC is made in a small metal-filter coffee contraption that is placed directly over your cup of Joe. Simply put in some (ideally Vietnamese) dark roast coffee, pour hot water on top, and let the coffee drip down directly into your cup, for a flavour that is argued to be unparalleled.
Brewing method aside, it's what goes into a VIC that makes the cold coffee drink so delectably amazing. Before you add in any coffee, your cup should have a big ol' layer of sweetened condensed milk, from a quarter to half the glass full, depending on how much cream and sugar you like. If you've never had sweetened condensed milk in your coffee, you've been missing out.
Top everything off with enough ice to cool the whole drink down, and you have yourself a Vietnamese iced coffee. Cold coffee drinks are slowly going out of season, but thankfully the recent burst of warm weather has extended the amount of time you can sip on a VIC outside. Even when it gets cold though, this drink is enough of a treat to enjoy. It's not like people stop eating ice cream in winter entirely.
Not exactly widespread in the city, a Vietnamese iced coffee can be hard to find, unless you know where to look. Vietnamese restaurants will likely have the beverage on their menu, such as Pho Tay Ho in Rosemont. Café Saïgon by UQAM is another option. The coffee-centric food truck Dispatch also has a VIC as one of their premiere drinks, which has gotten rave reviews, so be sure to try Dispatch's before food truck season ends this Sunday.
There's also nothing stopping you from making your own Vietnamese iced coffee at home. All you really need is the special filter, but even then, you can use a regular French press. Sticklers for authenticity may cry blasphemy, but don't mind them, you just need some condensed milk in your coffee. The Sugar Hit did it without a special filter and it looks amazing, see the recipe here.
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