Vietnamese Coffee and Empowerment in Brooklyn

Sahra Nguyen, founder of the country’s first specialty Vietnamese coffee importer. (Photo courtesy of Nguyen Coffee Supply via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

In November, Sahra Nguyen of Bushwick started Nguyen Coffee Supply, the first specialty Vietnamese coffee importer in the U.S., which uses beans grown in Vietnam and roasted in Red Hook, writes Heather Chin in Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Sahra Nguyen, the company’s founder and CEO, leverages a vision of culturally authentic collaborations to fuel the startup’s steady growth over its first six months. Nguyen Coffee Supply launched its own “cafe speakeasy:” Cafe Phin opened inside the popular Lower East Side Vietnamese restaurant An Choi this April.

Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, says she wanted to “help change the perception around Vietnamese coffee” which uses robusta beans, considered the “inferior” alternative to arabica beans. Vietnamese robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as arabica beans.

Vietnam exports roughly 3.6 billion pounds of coffee a year, but the companies that buy them typically use the beans in “cheap products or instant coffee products,” Nguyen said. “So Vietnamese coffee has gotten a really bad reputation.”

Nguyen envisions her business as offering more than just a different kind of coffee.

“Nguyen Coffee Supply has a very strong storytelling angle to it,” Nguyen noted. “Because it’s not just about selling coffee, but selling coffee and using the platform of coffee to talk about the stories of the Vietnamese experience, the Vietnamese economy, maybe corporate exploitation, about how to increase sustainability and transparency, how to talk about representation and visibility and community empowerment.

How did Nguyen start a coffee business importing beans from Vietnam when she had never roasted coffee before she moved to Brooklyn? Find out at Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

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