Wednesday, October 20, 2021

America’s new coffee obsession is Vietnamese

For ten years, the street vendors on Chinatown’s bustling San Francisco Street woke up before dawn and sold, served and shared Vietnamese style coffee. The customers, most of them young adults with laptops and iPhones in tow, were hip, hipsters who would wolf down their organic espressos and mochas without tasting. But in 2015, the tide began to turn. San Francisco’s bean farmers were gaining converts – the San

Francisco Chronicle ran an editorial in 2016 announcing the “war on caffeine” – and locals started to question the price tag for San Francisco’s favourite drink. “The way that Vietnamese coffee tasted was really different from the way I like coffee,” said Stacey Foe, a former stand-up comedian. “I wanted my coffee experience to match how I want to feel when I drink it – relaxing, with all the antioxidants, real

Vietnamese coffee,” she said. Just an hour west of the Japanese, Thai and other Asian-inspired bean and liquor alley shops, other business owners decided to take on that challenge. “Asian-American consumers have always respected the purity and better quality coffee that comes from around the world, versus the Americanized products they’ve grown up drinking,” said TJ Dannison, owner of Coffee Magnate, an artisan

coffee shop in Oakland, California. He said his customers were quickly developing a tolerance to the beans, but were eager to uncover what really counts – coffees with a Vietnamese culture. “A whole new world of small roasters was opening up in the Bay Area,” he said. From single-origin coffees to coffee bars popular with hipsters, new coffee makers in Oakland, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are serving up

Southeast Asian delights. Fresh from the tap, it can be expensive, costing more than $20 per latte, but coffee lovers are willing to pay up. The most popular coffees from Vietnam are known for being rich, rich in antioxidants and packed with plant protein. The local industry, decades removed from its legendary days with milk, coffee beans and ice, was curious to learn more about how the beans were made, the proper

way to grind the beans and the ways that coffee is made. Vietnam becomes important to large retail buyers like Starbucks for its exotic beans, highly prized for their potential for extending coffee’s shelf life. Same with mom-and-pop businesses with foreign investment in the coffee trade. Government regulations in Vietnam have put a hold on the export of coffee beans, but large retail buyers have found ways to reach

out to small-scale producers, who sell directly to them for less. At a recent tasting at coffee importer Double Blend Roasters in East Oakland, Son Nguyen, who co-owned the shop with her husband, told customers the Vietnamese are hard workers, showing up to work early in the morning at their small coffee farms before others arrive to work. “People that work for a living are working very hard to give you their best

quality coffee,” Nguyen said. “If you don’t want the quality, don’t buy it.” Read more:… “Americans are struggling,” said Dan Abela, who runs East Bay Coffee on the edge of San Francisco’s trendy Mission District. He said the coffee industry is much more interested in Vietnam than it is in Colombia, the country that produces most of the world’s fair trade coffee. The US

economy is $21.4 trillion, much of which comes from agriculture. “People are bored,” he said. “They have a lot of options, and coffee is one of them.”…

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