Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

July 10th, 2008  | Category: Ice Cream & Sorbet

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

Recently, I have been reading Dianne Jacob‘s “Will Write for Food”. No, wait. Not reading it – I am studying the book. As in taking notes, underlining important sentences and making a list of buzz words to avoid, etc. One of the chapters in the book talks about getting the passion across, which is to me one of the core elements of good food writing. Jacob quotes Colman Andrews, co-founder of Saveur, now with Gourmet: “When you turn a camera on people to get to their passion, they freeze up, use big words, and become stilted, especially when they’re very emotional about a subject. You can’t just open a vein and let it flow out. If you’re very passionate about some wonderful dish, you have to tame your passion to write about it, or it will probably come across sounding stupid.”

So, at the risk of sounding stupid, I want to say: The Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream from David’s book is one of the greatest ice cream flavors in the world.

How can it not be? It has sweetened condensed milk, strongly brewed dark roast coffee and David’s touch in it.

Seriously, I haven’t felt this passionate about an ice cream recipe for the longest time. I prepared three batches in a single week and didn’t even tell my friends about it. I don’t usually get secretive when I discover an amazing recipe like this. I feel this urge to tell the whole world about it and want my friends to taste it, too. But see, I had to tame my passion by eating loads of this ice cream – alone.

Sweetened condensed milk isn’t widely available in Turkey. In fact, I only know of a single store that carries the stuff. They usually stock it in low quantities and I buy the whole shelf when I stumble upon it.

To prepare the semolina halva for Janet, I bought their entire stock, which was 7 cans. I used 3 of them trying to figure out the best combination for the halva, one while I cooked it for Janet, which left me with three cans.

The preparation is a breeze. This ice cream is not custard-based, so the whole thing comes together in 5 minutes. After a thorough chill in the freezer, it is ready to go.

By the way, if you’d like to see how Vietnamese Coffee is brewed, here’s Jaden’s post about the iced version. She also has a link to a video demonstration she did for ABC7 inside the post. Check it out!

I haven’t made any changes to David’s original recipe. Ingredient list has “very strongly brewed coffee” and “a big pinch of finely ground dark roast coffee”.

Now, my idea of a strongly brewed coffee is already scary. And when you say “very” strong, I am destined for a hyperbolic version.

You say coffee, I ask how many gallons.

You say a big pinch, I add a tablespoon.

So that’s what happened. Feel free to play with the proportions to fit your taste.


recipe from Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz


  • 1 cup (400 g) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1+1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ( 1.3 oz or 40 g) + 1 tbsp dark roast ground coffee, divided
  • 1/3 cup whole milk


  1. Brew a very strong coffee with 1+1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of ground coffee. With a paper filter, that will yield 1 cup of very strongly brewed coffee. You can substitute with a cup of strongly brewed espresso.
  2. Whisk together the condensed milk, espresso, milk and ground coffee. Chill the mixture thoroughly (3 hours in the freezer worked for me), then freeze it in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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  1. 1 - Meeta on July 10th, 2008

    this looks really good. I love the perfect scoop it’s my ice-cream bible. Have to give this one a go soon!

  2. 2 - foodieguide on July 10th, 2008

    This looks heavenly. And even more so, served in an Iitala cup (my favourite!)…

  3. 3 - Rosa on July 10th, 2008

    It looks delicious! Wonderful…



  4. 4 - Nicisme on July 10th, 2008

    I’m crazy for coffee desserts and ice cream. This looks amazing!

  5. 5 - MariannaF on July 10th, 2008

    Mmmm, finally I get to see the story behind that condensed milk photo I had commented about a while back! This ice-cream looks delicious, will have to give it a try soon!

  6. 6 - Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy on July 10th, 2008

    Oh my! This looks too good! I really enjoy icy cold Vietnamese coffee on a hot day, but this ice cream could be dangerous for me!

  7. 7 - Amanda on July 10th, 2008

    It was like you said the magic words: Thank you for perking up my seemingly long and hot day.

  8. 8 - Sorina on July 10th, 2008

    You have a nice blog…keep up the good job:)

  9. 9 - Cyndi on July 10th, 2008

    I made this last week and was secretive myself about it. I was not willing to have ANYONE in my family steal even just a bite of that glorious ice cream!!! It is definitely in my top 5 list of most favorite ice creams……EVER!

  10. 10 - valentina on July 10th, 2008

    I remember drinking coffee throughout my trip around Vietnam, and how it is sweetned with condensed milk.this ice cream must taste delicious.Great shots!

  11. 11 - brilynn on July 10th, 2008

    This has been on my to try list, looks great! I made lychee ice cream today…

  12. 12 - joey on July 11th, 2008

    My gosh that last picture is just calling out to me mercilessly! Aaah! Sweetened condensed milk is much loved over her by young and old alike…wish I could send you a gallon! I’m also a fan of Vietnamese coffee…love the sound of this ice cream 🙂

  13. 13 - aforkfulofspaghetti on July 11th, 2008

    Wow, that’s some recommendation. I don’t have an ice-cream maker (yet – planning to do so very soon), so this ticks a very big box for me. I am SO going to have to get my hands on a copy of his book…

  14. 14 - Emelll on July 11th, 2008

    hey cenk. I discovered this site yesterday and I’m already addicted. It’s great to know you. By the way, why English ? 🙂

  15. 15 - Cenk on July 11th, 2008

    Emelll – Why not? I also have a Turkish version here.

  16. 16 - Emelll on July 12th, 2008

    I meant why am I writing in English to you, as we both know Turkish. Of course, English version is a great idea and opens the gates to everyone in the world. You just misunderstood.

  17. 17 - Tartelette on July 12th, 2008

    This is one of my favorite ice creams out there! I like to make a custard version for tarts. Great pics!

  18. 18 - Haley on July 14th, 2008

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks 🙂


  19. 19 - Gulcan on July 14th, 2008

    hiya Cenk!

    the Vietnamese coffee ice cream idea sounds sooo tempting..having just returned from a lovely italian restaurant serving a selection of lovely ice cream, i can eat 4-5 scoops now! however, my question is what to do if i don’t have an ice cream machine but still felt so keen to try it at home? it seems like kosovo is not the best place to find an ice cream machine *sigh*


  20. 20 - Cenk on July 14th, 2008

    Gulcan – David has a great post explaining how to make ice cream without a machine. Have a look here! Hope you like it!

  21. 21 - Cenk on July 14th, 2008

    Hi Haley – Many thanks for your interest, but I’ll have to decline. The recipe belongs to David Lebovitz.

  22. 22 - pixen on July 15th, 2008

    Hi Cenk,

    Simply delicious! I posted a bit about Vietnamese coffee in my blog few months ago. It’s an interesting national drink of Vietnam. My Vietnamese friends won’t start the day without it! Even the coffee powder used is different blend which gives a sweet and fruity taste and of course the must have Sweetened Condensed Milk…yummy.

    One thing is the Sweetened Condensed Milk… you need to have the authentic version with no additional oil in it. That means only Milk Solids, Skimmed Milk and Sugar. Some well known brands combined it with vegetable oils like palm oil or Soya. This should have labelled as Sweetened Condensed Filled Milk. That includes Filled Evaporated Milk as well. The move was to cut down the prices due to petrol increased since few years ago and cost of importation of milk in certain countries especially 3rd world countries.

    Differences I discovered between the ‘Filled’ and original Condensed Milk were the former has oily texture after I left it inside the fridge and when I scooped with spoon, the milk mixture lumped up compared to the original prepared. Tastes were like heaven and earth… The Filled milk tasted more sugary and liquify instead of creamy and milky of what a milk should tasted like… 🙁

    Now, I’m thinking f making my own condensed milk 😀

    Any solid recipe for that?


  23. 23 - Gulcan on July 15th, 2008

    Cenk, thanks a lot for the link. It brought me to my childhood times where there was no ice cream machine or Dr. Oetker ready to eat ice cream satches. My mom was exactly doing what David recommended on his website and we always thought that it was a never ending process. And everytime when we lost hope and got more interested in the cartoon on tv, she was bringing the ice creams freshly made by her lovely hands. Aww I missed my mom a hell of lot now! :/

    Cheers, I will try and keep you posted!

  24. 24 - Tamami on July 15th, 2008

    mental note: must get the book…

  25. 25 - Cenk on July 15th, 2008

    Pixen – Thanks a lot for your valuable input! I’ve found a recipe online for homemade sweetened condensed milk (here) and posted it on my Turkish blog for the readers who will have a hard time finding the canned version. So you’re saying this homemade recipe is much closer to the authentic taste? I’ve got to try it! I’ll let you know if it’s any good.

  26. 26 - Cenk on July 15th, 2008

    Gulcan – You’re welcome. Hope you like it!

  27. 27 - emrah on July 16th, 2008

    YUM YUM 😉 🙂

  28. 28 - Miri on July 16th, 2008

    This ice cream looks so dreamy, I’d love a taste 🙂 And your last pic (scooping the ice cream) is beyond beautiful!

  29. 29 - Hillary on July 16th, 2008

    This sounds amazing! Coffee flavored ice cream is so genius.

  30. 30 - bee on July 17th, 2008

    what a spectacular looking ice cream !!

  31. 31 - Yaelian on July 17th, 2008

    I am so going to make this too!! And as a Finn it pleases me that you serve this lovely ice cream in a Finnish cup.

  32. 32 - Ed on July 21st, 2008

    Wow! This really looks good! I have been craving coffee ice cream lately and when I saw your pics I really had to have my coffee ice cream!! I’ll be featuring this in my blog, Great Pictures!

  33. 33 - Pille on July 21st, 2008

    I made that ice cream last summer, and I agree – it’s absolutely delicious!!! (Though at the moment it’s co-sharing the first position with David’s Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream).

  34. 34 - Steamy Kitchen on July 25th, 2008

    aawww thanks Cenk!

    I’m making Thai Coffee Ice Cream tomorrow – I think you’d like that too!

  35. 35 - Alexa on July 25th, 2008

    I just discovered your site via David’s. Great post, very well written and I love the pictures. I am going to try this recipe this weekend. It looks so refreshing, and delightful.

  36. 36 - B5 on August 4th, 2008

    Coffee and Ice!!! You are wonderful as usual!

  37. 37 - Hot Days, Cold Food « food vagabond on August 6th, 2008

    […] were not only ice creams and granitas in my kitchen. I also adapted David’s Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream (via Cafe Fernando). Just mix a can of condensed milk, one can (use the […]

  38. 38 - Seattle Tall Poppy on August 9th, 2008

    I hear you…this is absolutely one of my favorite recipes. Easy to make with ingredients I now always have on hand. Absolutely wonderful photos…

  39. 39 - Christiane on August 16th, 2008

    This looks absolutely amazing! I’ll have to give it a try sinc eVietnamese Coffee is one of my favorite things!

  40. 40 - Victoria on September 24th, 2008

    Cenk, I have to say that I enjoy reading your blog very much. I am traveling to Turkey in 2 weeks, so I was browsing the web for some restaurant recommendations and that is how I found Cafe Fernando. I spent the entire evening reading it! Keep up your great job.

    Anyways, condensed milk is a bittersweet subject for me, because I used to adore it as a kid. Nowadays, most of the versions I find do not have that true caramelized, but delicate taste that comes from long condensation of milk and cooking of its natural sugars. As for a home recipe, I found a couple, but it is essentially cooking milk over low heat until it is reduced in quantity by 3/4 and then adding sugar and cooking it some more. I have tried making it, and while it was successful, it is truly timeconsuming. I simply ate it with pistachios and fruit.

    For cooking purposes, I like Vietnamese Longevity Brand, but it is still not perfect. I am searching still. 🙂

  41. 41 - vietnamese music on December 29th, 2008

    yummy that look delicious..

  42. 42 - Paula Pereira on March 5th, 2009

    hi cenk!

    I love this recipe, one question what kind of coffee did you use and did you use any special equipment to brew it? I am passionate about this and I blushed when you said you couldn’t tell your friends because i am guilty of the same crime at times!

  43. 43 - Cenk on March 5th, 2009

    Hi Paula – I use Starbucks Ethiopian blend and prepare it with a coffee machine (paper filter).

  44. 44 - L on March 8th, 2009

    Mmmmm… this looks good!!! I’ve tried using Starbucks coffee to make vietnamese coffee and it’s just not the same. I did find a site though that sells everything you need to make the authentic vietnamese coffee — It’s pretty affordable considering it would normally cost $3 for a cup in restaurant.

  45. 45 - Cenk on March 8th, 2009

    L – Thanks for the link!

  46. 46 - Micas on March 26th, 2009

    U-A-U! looks delicious. i already paste the recipe to repeat it!

  47. 47 - Cristina on March 23rd, 2010

    Please, where is this only store that sells condensad milk in Istambul?

  48. 48 - Cenk on March 24th, 2010

    Cristina – You can find condensed milk at Carrefoursa (Markomilk brand). Many branches across town.

  49. 49 - alan on April 29th, 2010


  50. 50 - linz on July 4th, 2010

    How much does this recipe make?

  51. 51 - Cenk on July 4th, 2010

    linz – About a liter.

  52. 52 - Jennifer on July 21st, 2010

    I read that same, wonderfully informative and motivational book, Will Write for Food.

    Have you finished it? How did you like it?

    Now for some ice cream! …..

  53. 53 - Cenk on July 22nd, 2010

    Jennifer – I think I’ve read it three times already. I also have some favorite chapters that I go back to. By the way, an updated 2nd edition of the book is out. Here’s the announcement from Dianne’s blog. There’s a whole new section dedicated for food blogging.

  54. 54 - Megan @ Caramel & Chili on August 21st, 2010

    I just used your recipe in making homemade drumsticks. It’s delicious! Glad I made a double batch!

  55. 55 - Gabe on August 16th, 2011

    Ditto to all the posters’ comments. Your recipe varies from David’s where he uses half and half instead of milk. I found the half and half made the ice cream more creamy. I like your recipe for strong coffee and used Cafe du Monde coffee in a French press. Magnificent! Your blog for Vietnamese coffee ice cream is bar far the best one out there. Thank you!

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