Monday, August 17, 2015

Vietnamese Coffee: Some More Experience Required

As many of you may or may not know, Ninin and I are avid fans of coffee. So, on a hot summer day, I figured, what better to enjoy than a cold glass of iced coffee? And even better, why not a cold glass of Vietnamese iced coffee since I had a new set of coffee toys to test.

Metal filter and coffee grounds with chicory
The basic requirements for Vietnamese coffee are the metal filter and coffee grounds with chicory, Trung Nguyen is one of the more popular brands along with Cafe du Monde. Coffee is made by placing the coffee in the filter, wetting the grounds a little to let them "blossom" (coffee term, still trying to figure it out) screwing the inner part of the filter in to let it compress the grounds and pouring the remaining water into the filter for the rest of the cup. My personal favorite is to have it with condensed milk for the sweetness and richness. Having successfully made coffee different ways (French press, pour over), I figured this method would be simple enough for me to handle, but I learned very quickly there are lots of places to make mistakes (because I made them all).

Ready to go (not pictured boiling water and ice)
So I set up by placing a couple tablespoons of condensed milk at the bottom of my cup and placing the filter on top of it. My first mistake was using too much coffee, the instructions said 3 teaspoons, but they meant 3 level teaspoons not heaping. Using that much coffee affects the whole process because of the way the filter works. The inner part of the filter screws in and compresses the grounds and also controls how fast the water flows through the filter. Using too much coffee makes it hard to properly screw the inner part of the filter on properly and adjust how fast the coffee flows by screwing or unscrewing the inner part. Vietnamese coffee usually takes about 5 minutes to make but because of my blunder, the water hadn't filtered through by the 10-minute mark. This is where mistake number 2 happened, hearing that unscrewing the inner part would release pressure and help the water flow faster, I did just that. But with all th e grounds, the inner part came loose and the water still wasn't flowing because the grounds were too compressed from the beginning. Mistake number 3 was stirring the compressed grounds with a spoon to "help". It helped the water get through the filter....along with the grounds. After all was said and done, I stirred up the coffee with the condensed milk and added ice. The end result was really awesome tasting but had some coffee grounds in it. The lessons learned today will be used for making the next Vietnamese iced coffee even better.

The finished product (notice the floating grounds). But practice makes perfect.

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