Cafe sua da is one of Vietnam’s absolute treasures! Otherwise known as Vietnamese iced coffee, once you’ve tried one of these beasts you’ll be hankering for a second within minutes!
The sweetness of the condensed milk, mixed with the legendary strong Vietnamese coffee and tons of ice, is just sheer pleasure on a hot, sultry day in Vietnam (and let’s face it, there are plenty of those!).
I first discovered cafe sua da on my third visit to Vietnam. How the heck I didn’t discover it on on my first couple of visits I will never know…but I have a feeling it was down to my pretty legit fear of iced drinks in Vietnam, something you’ve got to be wary of!
I’ll always remember that hot, sweaty afternoon in District 4 of Saigon, where I came across a cute, neighborhood coffee shop. I had previously been aware of cafe sua, a hot (absolutely no ice) coffee drink, but with the mercury a-rising and draining me dry, I decided to mix it with the locals who were all supping on an iced beverage of some sort. I went with a cafe sua da…
I was hooked.
The very next day, my Vietnamese friend took me to another local cafe in District 4, and again, cafe sua da was my favored tipple. And now I was in deep…
And yes, once you try it, you’ll also be in trouble!
Vietnamese coffee has gotten a great reputation over the last few years, and I had been a big fan of the cafe sua prior to trying the da version (da = ice in Vietnamese).
But once you try cafe sua da on a hot, Saigon-like afternoon, there is absolutely no going back!
Where are the best places to try Cafe Sua Da?
From my own experience, there are a number of great local coffee shops to try, in every major town. Be a little wary of the tiny, street-side coffee sellers, as they’re likely to give you low-grade coffee, plus the ice probably isn’t the cleanest it could be; if you’ve got an iron-clad gut, go for it…some of us mere humans have suffered for our bravery! But once you find a coffee shop you like, stick with it! I’ll try to come up with a must-try cafe sua da list real soon!
I’ve also tried the cafe sua da at some of the major chain coffee shops, and have to say, only Highlands Coffee comes close to really hitting the spot. I was very disappointed with the cafe sua da at two or three different Phuc Long (be careful how you pronounce these guys!) shops, way too much ice and way too little cafe…
How to make Cafe Sua Da?
If you’ve been bitten by the love for cafe sua da, buy some coffee from one of the many coffee stores you can find in any big town. Just make sure that the coffee is suitable for making cafe sua da!
Make sure you also buy the right coffee filter, get some condensed milk and ice, and you’re good to go!