Monday, October 24, 2011

Lingering Summer

Summer is hanging on here in Northern California. The forecast this late October weekend was 83° and sunny. The children donned shorts and pleaded (again) for a sand-and-water table. Darling Husband decided it was perfect weather for pumpkin ice cream. We even contemplated turning on the air conditioning. (We resisted.) While waiting for autumn to assert itself, we are trying to enjoy these few last bursts of summer, including their perfect excuse for making Vietnamese-style iced coffee. 

I became smitten with the drink during one of our summer visits to my brother- and sister-in-law, who are friendly with the owners of a wonderful Asian restaurant. We dine there at least once during our stay, and always on order are the sweet, tangy, saucy house tofu and the sublime Vietnamese iced coffee, the bitterness of the brew tamed delightfully by the sweet creaminess of condensed milk.

Many months later, I have eschewed caffeine and realized a decaf version will be more difficult to find when dining out. I’d thought of making it myself, but it seemed wasteful to open a new can of sweetened condensed milk for one or two drinks, when I knew the remainder would languish in my fridge for weeks, alongside the box of almond milk no one remembers buying.

Enter Trader Joe’s. While browsing the aisles the other day, I came across this new gem: 

Sweetened condensed milk in a squeeze bottle. As Little Man would say, “That be perfect!” Now I can easily make something akin to Vietnamese iced coffee at home. Although traditionally the coffee is brewed in a phin*, which is similar to a French press, we make do with our Bunn. Which makes coffee in 3 minutes, so really, we can't complain.

On this warm, lazy Sunday morning, we brewed some extra-strong dark-roasted coffee, filled our glasses with ice, and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. I may have enjoyed mine with a slice of chilled pecan-pumpkin pie, content to wait a few more days for autumn to claim victory.

*For more information on traditional methods and a tutorial on how to use a phin, visit CoffeeGeek.


  1. Love your autumn language, love the new blog, love you!

  2. Hands down this is my favorite treat all year long! I love to keep iced coffee around (I use a cold brew method), but am always a little put out with the can of sweetened condensed milk that has to be transferred to another container. Tonight, I'm off to Trader Joe's and on a mission!