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Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Café Sua Da is usually served with the little brew pot dripping coffee into a glass with sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. You then stir and add ice and enjoy.

But what's the little screen with the screw for? Usually in restaurants I find it just sitting loose. Is it supposed to be screwed-on or loose? Is it supposed to constrain the expansion of the grounds or just help form the initial packed puck shape? Is the lid important?

Bonus questions: How important is it to have chicory in the coffee? What's a good proportion?

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Just Vietnamese. It is also served in Thai restaurants in the West, but (much to my dismay) is not actually a common thing in Thailand. There are other things that are called 'Thai coffee'. –  hunter2 Oct 13 '13 at 8:54

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Here's a website that goes into it and includes a picture of the gizmo to which you refer: http://www.instructables.com/id/Vietnamese-Iced-Coffee/

"This little single serving device is meant to fit over a cup, hold about two tablespoons worth of coffee, and the required amount of water for brewing. There is a screen on the bottom, and a plunger with another screen on it that screws down on top of the coffee to smush it between the two filters. The tightness of this top filter controls the strength of the coffee. The tighter it is, the slower water flows, and the stronger the brew."

EDIT: Regarding the "bonus question": I'm not aware of chicory as an ingredient in Vietnamese/Thai iced coffee, I'm only familiar with it as a traditional New Orleans addition, having migrated from France. It became a popular substitution during the French Revolution when coffee became prohibitively expensive. I dug up a recipe for New Orleans chicory coffee http://imbibemagazine.com/Chicory-Coffee-Recipe.

"Ingredients 1 lb. coarsely ground coffee, 1 1/2 oz. roasted and chopped chicory, 2 1/2 quarts water, 3 oz. simple syrup,

Tools Large stockpot, Wooden spoon, Fine-mesh sieve, Large Mason jar,

Combine the ground coffee, chicory and water in a stockpot. Stir with a wooden spoon, cover and let steep at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

Carefully break the crust of the coffee grounds with a spoon and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the Mason jar. Add simple syrup to concentrate and stir to combine.

Serve over ice and add milk to taste—most people opt for about a 50/50 ratio of milk to chicory-coffee concentrate.

Keep refrigerated and use within 1-2 days. Yields 4-5 cups of concentrate.

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It is common in the US to use NOLA style chicory coffee in Vietnamese-style coffee; this kind of coffee is also pretty widely available pre-made, in any grocery store. Worth noting, though, that the French culinary influence is in both place (NOLA and Vn). –  hunter2 Oct 13 '13 at 8:50
    
This looks worth a try. I wonder if you'd get the same taste just brewing in a French press? –  ElendilTheTall Oct 13 '13 at 11:39

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