Recipe: Cà Phê Sữa Đá from Bravo’s Top Chef Tu David Phu - Omni

Recipe: Cà Phê Sữa Đá from Bravo’s Top Chef Tu David Phu


Coffee has been a staple in Vietnam ever since it was introduced to the country by the French in 1857 to accommodate French colonialist's palates. By the end of the 19th century, the French had built a very successful coffee agricultural industry in the country. However, fresh cow's milk, a staple in French coffee culture, was yet to be imported. Given Vietnam's inaccessibility to fresh cow's milk at the time, sweetened condensed milk was used as a substitute.

However, despite the prevalence of coffee agriculture in Vietnam it wasn't until the early 1900s that the French started to import their distinct cafe culture into the country. Specifically, Vietnam's capital city, Ha Noi, already a major urban center, saw the French coffee culture take off, albeit taking on a distinctly Vietnamese tone. The use of sweetened condensed milk specifically soon became a favorite of both the French colonialists and Vietnamese alike in the city.

Cà Phê Sữa Đá — Vietnamese Iced Coffee — quickly spread from Ha Noi throughout the rest of the country, becoming synonymous with the Vietnamese coffee culture famous to this day.

To honor the tradition of Vietnamese coffee culture, we were thrilled to collaborate with Chef Tu David Phu, a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef and prolific chef who has carried his upbringing in Vietnamese cooking throughout his culinary career, to create a traditional recipe for Cà Phê Sữa Đá. Using a distinctly Vietnamese brewing method — the phin filter — Chef Tu’s recipe is an easy, accessible, and delicious take on Vietnamese Iced Coffee able to be made by everyone, from the most experienced barista to the at-home coffee drinker looking to try something new.

Chef Tu David Phu's Cà Phê Sữa Đá

Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 5 min.
Total Time: 10 min.

 6 oz. Boiling Water

 2 tablespoons of Omni's Signature Blend [ground]

 2 tablespoons Condensed Milk

 1-2 cups of ice


 Omni Bev Phin Filter

  1. Bring 6 oz. of water to a boil [195-200 F].
  2. Add 2 tablespoon of Omni Bev's Signature Blend Ground Coffee into a Phin Filter chamber.
  3. Lightly pat down ground coffee with press in the Phin Filter chamber.
  4. Put the Phin Filter on top of a glass (or mug) lined with 2 tablespoon of condensed milk.
  5. Pour 1 oz. of water onto to groud coffee for 10 seconds to bloom
  6. Fill the rest of the Phin Filter chamber with the remaining 5 oz. of boiing water [195-200 F].
  7. Allow the Phin Filter to drip for 5 minutes, or when all of hot water has passed through the Phin Filter.
  8. Remove the Phin Filter.
  9. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
  10. Fill a separate 8 oz. glass with ice.
  11. Pour the coffee mixture over the ice.
  12. Serve.

About Chef Tu David Phu

Photo of Chef Tu David Phu.

Oakland native Chef Tu David Phu is a first-generation Vietnamese-American culinary luminary. His distinguished culinary style of Vietnamese-California cuisine reflects a unique range of cooking cultures — from American classics and traditional European dishes to his mother's home cooking.

Chef Tu's family comes from the island of Phú Quốc, Vietnam. Since 1895 his family has operated a small-batch artisanal Phú Quốc fish sauce company. Through his family's business and mother's love for cooking, food played an integral part in his upbringing, fueling his passion for the culinary arts. 

After attending culinary school, Chef Tu’s culinary experiences included cooking in the nation's top Michelin-rated restaurants: Chez PanisseQuinceAcquerelloDanielBreslinGotham Bar & Grill, and Gramercy Tavern. He also served as an Executive Chef of Gather in Berkeley, California.

After a decade in the restaurant industry, he left to concentrate on his weekly pop-up dinners focused on a Vietnamese tasting menu that reflected his childhood and culinary talents. This pop-up series opened doors for him; in 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle recognized him as a Rising Star Chef. After, he was a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Season 15 and was a host for ABC’s Taste Buds: Chefsgiving. In 2019, Oakland culinary maven Chef Tu won the James Beard Smart Catch Leader for his advocacy in sustainable seafood practices and as an educator, sharing flavors and treasures of his heritage through food.

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