Sahra Nguyen’s enterprise is founded on a single bean.
Nguyen, a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, had become increasingly disheartened by the dearth of Vietnamese coffee in the United States and the widespread disdain for the robusta bean — a resilient coffee species grown in Vietnam that has long been disdained by the majority of coffee connoisseurs in favor of the more popular arabica variety.
“I began to notice in 2016 that Vietnamese iced coffee had a significant presence in the specialty coffee scene, similar to chai and matcha tea,” says Nguyen. “However, whenever I ordered Vietnamese iced coffee, the beans were never Vietnamese; they were always Colombian or Ethiopian.” There was a contradiction in values.”
Across the nation, coffee brands are emerging with their mission statements prominently displayed, be it the introduction of new cultural heritages surrounding coffee, the consolidation of sustainability efforts, or the promotion of ethical labor practices. Nguyen Coffee Supply and similar brands have come to represent a new generation of kaffeeklatsch culture — one based on fellowship, community, and the desire to extend a legacy — and they’re rapidly proliferating across American neighborhoods and supermarkets.
Coffee, the third most consumed beverage in the world after water and tea, dominates the globe. Nguyen was perplexed by the fact that Vietnam is the second most prolific coffee producer in the world, as people were rapidly consuming Vietnamese-style coffee but were unwilling to accept robusta as a legitimate craft coffee bean. The New York Times predicts that in the coming year, an increasing number of Americans will consume the highly caffeinated and less expensive species.
Nguyen states, “What we are doing at Nguyen Coffee Supply is completely challenging the norm and the stigma that superior beans exist, because they do not.” “Our work requires education and narrative shifts, but we must also put in the physical effort to improve the bean. “We must invest in coffee beans.”
Bartholomew Jones, a musician, educator, and entrepreneur based in Memphis, Tennessee, founded cxffeeblack with narrative and education at its core. Jones had spent countless hours working and socializing in coffee shops, but he began to feel uncomfortable when he invited others into his newly discovered “third space.”