How to Make Thai Iced Coffee

Four Methods:Overnight versionThai coffee powder versionQuick mix versionKah-Feh dahm yen

Thai iced coffee (Kah-Feh yen) is fantastic on its own day or night, or with your favorite Thai dish. A blend of ingredients and flavors from around the world, this is a great drink for parties if you want something exotic but not intimidating.

While there are several variants on this beverage, they all call for coffee, cream, sweetener, and spices. The three recipes listed below makes give you some leeway in faster or slower (and therefore stronger) preparation methods, noting that the first recipe requires overnight chilling.


Overnight version:

  • Coffee - use a ground appropriately for your brewing method – a medium-dark roasted Estate Java coffee is ideal (or use Thai coffee powder)
  • Granulated cane sugar, white or "raw", 2-4 tablespoons per serving
  • Spices, total of 2 teaspoons per serving. Cardamom is a must, addition of cinnamon, almond extracts, or other dessert spices are matters of personal taste
  • Condensed milk or heavy cream (half-and-half), 1-2 ounces (30-60ml) per serving

Thai coffee powder version:

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Thai coffee powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Crushed ice/ice cubes for each glass
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

Quick mix version:

  • 8-10 ounces (236ml to 295ml) iced coffee
  • 1 ounce (30ml) heavy cream (half-and-half) or condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely ground cardamom
    • For vegans and non-dairy diets: Soy evaporated milk can be substituted for evaporated milk, or see the explanation for Kah-Feh Dahm yen below


  1. Image titled Make Thai Iced Coffee Step 1
    Choose your version and assemble the ingredients and equipment. These are listed above in "Ingredients" and below under "Things You'll Need".

Method 1
Overnight version

  1. 1
    Brew the coffee according to the instructions for using French press brewing. See How to use a French Press for more details.
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    Pour the coffee into the carafe. Mix in the sugar and spices, stirring gently.
    • Refrigerate the carafe of coffee overnight.
      Image titled Make Thai Iced Coffee Step 3Bullet1
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    To serve, pour into tumblers over ice and leave a finger of room at the top. Pour cream or milk slowly to the top.
    • Mint leaves are recommended as a garnish.

Method 2
Thai coffee powder version

Thai coffee powder has a unique flavor owing to the roasted corn and roasted sesame seeds in its ingredients. If you can get hold of it, it's definitely worth trying this version.

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    Pour the Thai coffee powder into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and once it reaches boiling point, remove from the heat.
    • Alternatively, the Thai coffee powder can be brewed in the French press, as above.
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    Add the sugar and leave the coffee mixture to cool. It helps to stir it now and then so that the sugar dissolves.
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    Strain the coffee when cool. Use a fine-mesh strainer or a coffee filter to strain the coffee into a pitcher.
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    Chill until you're ready to serve. To serve: fill each glass with ice or crushed ice and add 3/4 cup Thai iced coffee to each glass. Add the evaporated milk or cream to the top (about 3-4 tablespoons per glass).

Method 3
Quick mix version

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    Pour the iced coffee into a tall glass.
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    Add the cream or condensed milk and sugar. Mix through.
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    Add the cardamom and mix in.
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    Spoon cream or condensed milk on top. It's now ready to serve.
  5. Image titled Make Thai Iced Coffee Intro

Method 4
Kah-Feh dahm yen

  1. 1
    If you'd prefer no milk or cream added to the Thai iced coffee, that's acceptable too. It's known as Kah-feh dahm yen (or o-liang in Chinese), and all you need to do is leave off the addition of cream or condensed milk at the end.


  • About 50 years ago, the US Military brought Eagle Brand Milk (originally formulated in 1856) with them to the bases in Thailand. It is still used today by the Thai people in their coffee.
  • To make the cream float on top of the glass for that classic Thai iced coffee look, float a spoon on top of the coffee and very slowly pour in the dairy.
  • An alternative to hot brewing is to use the cold-pressed method, leaving the coffee grounds to soak in the press overnight in cold water, then plunging and pouring the next day. This is regarded as a superior method for extracting iced coffee, but will require you to use a liquid simple syrup instead of granulated sugar.
  • Experiment with a variety of flavors. Additional spices can add complexity, and an interesting variant replaces dairy products with coconut milk.
  • Coffee for the first recipe can be brewed in a drip coffee maker; pressed coffee is recommended for superior flavor.
  • Another option is to use iced americano. Straight iced espresso is likely to overpower the other flavors, but this is a matter of taste. Experiment to discover your own preference.
  • Serve the drink quickly; the condensed milk soon gets lost amid the coffee color and then it's not as interesting to look at.


  • As always, be careful handling hot liquids. Do not transfer very hot liquids into anything made of glass, or very cold liquids into a hot glass container (basically, don't try to cut corners by dumping ice into a pot of hot coffee).

Things You'll Need

  • A coffee maker (press recommended) of suitable size. If you're serving your coffee in 12 oz. (354ml) tumblers, assume 8 ounces (226g) of coffee will be consumed per person
  • A carafe for mixing, chilling, and serving the iced coffee mixture. A ceramic, plastic, or a Pyrex® vessel is adequate; avoid using glass
  • Glasses for serving - iced tea glasses and milkshake/float glasses are commonly used in restaurants
  • A spoon may be used to "float" the milk in your coffee
  • Saucepan, fine mesh strainer, stirring spoon, pitcher (jug) and tall glasses for the Thai coffee powder version
  • Tall glass, mixing spoon for quick mix version

Sources and Citations

  • Nancie McDermott, Quick & Easy Thai, p. 134, (2004), ISBN 0-8118-3731-9 – research source for the second recipe.

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