Taking coffee in Vietnam will likely be a foreign affair for first-time visitors to South East Asia. Typical Vietnamese coffee is a dark French roast, sometimes spiced with chicory. Like Italian hot chocolate, it’s thicker than its American counterpart.
First things first. Your coffee will come adorned with a metal top hat. Vietnamese coffee is filtered through this contraption, so you’ll have to wait a few minutes after it’s served to get your fix. Once the water has fully drained, remove the lid, set it upside down on the table, and then place the filter on top to prevent it from dripping.
Order cà phê nong (cafe naam) if you want your coffee hot and black. If your waiter doesn’t bring you a bowl of sugar, ask for đương (duh-ung).
For something sweeter, try cà phê sữa nóng (cafe suh-ah naam), coffee with milk. Vietnamese coffee is made with sweetened condensed milk, so sugar is rarely necessary. Condensed milk sinks to the bottom of your cup, so be sure to stir.
If you’re struggling with the humidity, cà phê sữa đá is Vietnam’s iced coffee with milk. This is more likely to be served in a tall glass with ice, sans top hat.
For iced coffee without milk, simply drop the sữa and order cà phê đá.