Many years ago I worked at a place that was in a small strip mall in downtown Orlando. Not only was it one of my favorite jobs ever, but it was also a few doors down from a Vietnamese restaurant. One day one of my coworkers bought me an iced coffee, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Vietnamese coffee is this magical mix of strong coffee with sweetened condensed milk. It’s the perfect caffeine boost for warm climates like Orlando. Or any climate—the stuff is addictive! I was thrilled to find this recipe for Vietnamese coffee spiced with cardamom because I love trying twists on the classics.
Hello, Vietnamese coffee. We’ve elevated the traditional recipe a bit by brewing the coffee with spices and adding some vanilla to the cream, which we cut with ½ & ½ to avoid major sugar overload. And man, it’s good. Really good.
Since there are only 5 ingredients to this recipe, my shopping list was nice and short. I had coffee beans, cardamom pods, and vanilla extract in my pantry. All I had to buy was the sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half.
The directions for this recipe were clear and easy to follow. The author doesn’t list the total time to prepare it, but these were my results:
- 5 minutes to prep the cardamom-infused coffee
- 24 hours for the coffee to steep
- 20 minutes to filter the coffee (more on that later)
- 2 minutes to mix the creamer and make 1 coffee drink with it
- 24 hours 27 minutes total
The first thing I did was make the coffee since it had to steep for 24 hours. That part was quick and easy. I just ground the coffee, lightly crushed 4 cardamom pods, and added them to a pitcher with the water.
This recipe calls for coarsely ground coffee, and it means it! I don’t drink coffee too often, so I grind my own beans. This time I ground them too fine, and I didn’t realize the consequences until I began to filter the coffee. I used a coffee filter in a mesh sieve placed over a small mixing bowl. Things went fine at first, then I noticed the rate the coffee was going through the filter slowed from a stream to a drip to almost nothing. What?!
It turns out that the filter was getting clogged with extremely fine coffee grounds. I had to wait (and wait and wait) for the coffee to drain through the filter and replace it. This time I poured less coffee because I knew the filter would clog again. So after 20 minutes of boredom watching coffee drip, I finally had all the coffee filtered and poured it into a pitcher. I’m going to buy coarsely ground coffee next time. Learn from my mistake, it will save you time and maybe your sanity.
Thank goodness mixing the creamer and mixing it with the coffee was as easy as I thought it would be. I didn’t have a mason jar, so I used a plastic Snapware® container instead. The top was very secure, so I knew it wouldn’t leak when shaken (trust me on this, I’ve dropped full Snapware® containers and never had a leak). Two minutes later, I had a delicious spiced Vietnamese coffee mixed up and ready to drink.