It may be called King Coffee, but do not let the name fool you. The chairperson and CEO of Vietnam’s burgeoning coffee brand, Le Hoang Diep Thao, is more a queen than a king. With a valuation upwards of US$60 million and thousands of Vietnamese farmers as beneficiaries of her benevolent reign, she is building a model of coffee cultivation that demands more than just good PR. But Ms Thao, as she is respectfully referred to by her ever-present aides – and who was recently in Dubai to promote the King Coffee brand and sign an MoU to begin distributing it in the UAE – was not always coffee royalty. Her rise is inextricably tied to her origins and she makes it a point to never forget that.
Coffee in her blood
“I was born in a coffee plantation,” says Thao. “This is why coffee is so important to me. It is in my blood. I have lived around coffee all my life.