Special Blend

Coffee and computer work (structured thought and writing code in particular) go pretty much hand-in-hand. To quote:

I don't think there's a man, woman or child alive, who doesn't enjoy a tasty beverage.

- David Letterman

You got that right, Dave - especially when it comes to us computer geeks and our late night, caffeine-fueled "ultra-dev" sessions.

Ca phe sua da

A Vietnamese coffee filter delivers a special blend - slowly, but strongly.

Roughly translated to mean "on the rocks" according to one source, ca phe sua da is the traditional name for Vietnamese iced coffee. A nifty stainless-steel filter serves up a strongly-concentrated single cup of the black stuff, which mixes with sweetened condensed milk. The result: a damned good (and strong, if made right,) cup of coffee.

A good blend takes time..

The coffee can take from ten to fifteen minutes to drip through the filter, provided you tighten the press properly. It's interesting to see how the resulting coffee drips change in color as the water makes its way through, from a reddish-brown to nearly clear.

A bit of basic equipment is needed, too. The list is as follows:

  • 2 - 4 tbsp Vietnamese coffee, finely ground
  • 2 - 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • Vietnamese coffee filter
  • Boiling water
  • Ice cubes

This was pilfered from the Coffee and Caffeine FAQ. Thanks for the recipe. Also of note is the Coffee-flavored Coffee Wiki entry at C&C Inc., which mentions this style of coffee among others. The title (and subsequent quote) are credited to the infamous humor of one Denis Leary.

I have read also that a dark french roast can be used to the same or similar effect. The coffee filter can likely be found at your local Asian supermarket; I picked one up for $6 (CDN).

(Probably) not for daily consumption

I realised this coffee doesn't make a substitute for the usual morning caffeine jolt, as this variety is best served chilled - over ice, in fact.

I wonder also about the healthiness of this drink; condensed milk has a rather glutenous, not-terribly-appetizing sort of appearance by itself. The picture of the lemon pie on the label doesn't conjure up thoughts of healthy consumption, either. Despite this - damn, it makes for a good mix. I'd imagine you could use regular 2% milk, but that would likely water down the taste. My understanding is that refrigeration (and therefore, milk) was not commonly available years ago, so condensed milk served as an appropriate substitute.

One might wonder why the hell I'm even writing about coffee on this site in the first place.. I made a strong one before sitting down to write this; my stomach is giving off that "too much caffeine" grumble - a little strong perhaps. Note to self: Use less than 1 tbsp next time.