EDIT: Thank you for joining this Reddit AMA and asking wonderful questions! Until next time, you can learn more about us at http://nguyencoffeesupply.com!

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of the unique heritages, cultures, and complexities that comprise the Asian American community. Asian Americans are not a monolith. We have been in the U.S. for a long time and we've been as integral to the foundation of this country as well.

I'm here to talk about culture, identity, activism, and share my perspectives as the daughter of refugees from Vietnam. In the wake of #StopAsianHate and our collective consciousness to address racism and violence against the Asian and Asian American community, I believe one of the most critical things we can do right now is understand the unique, complex and nuanced experiences of Asian Americans as people. Ask me anything about Asian American culture, history, identity, politics and activism!

Sahra Nguyen Wants to Change the Trajectory of Vietnamese Coffee

Bushwick Coffee Entrepreneur Uses Her Influence to Fight Anti-Asian Violence

How Sahra Nguyen Is Reclaiming Vietnamese Coffee

My photo: https://twitter.com/NguyenCoffeeNYC/status/1390727465790750723

Comments: 626 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

gqreader357 karma

How much nuoc mam you keep in the fridge?

Cuz I'm at 2 glass bottles and I consider it running low if its just 1 bottle and I have to call my mom.

Edit: some people questioning why its kept in the fridge. this is the great debate that is analogous to white people asking other white people why they keep the butter in the fridge vs on the counter in a covered butter dish plate. fridge is smarter because it just be like that.

nguyencoffeesupply212 karma

LOL, this 1000% relatable. Always 2 on deck.

Ivykite69 karma

In the fridge?? I’ve always kept it in the pantry

nguyencoffeesupply80 karma

I keep mine in the pantry, like my mom. However both ways are fine!

Elderlyat30310 karma

I live in Oklahoma and we have a large Vietnamese population.

The stories of perseverance are incredible.

Do you have distribution at Super Cao Nguyen in Oklahoma City? I’d love to support you.

nguyencoffeesupply140 karma

We do not! Please reach out via our website.

ProjectShamrock124 karma

I live in a part of the U.S. with a huge Vietnamese community and have friends who are both Vietnamese immigrants and descendants of Vietnamese immigrants. It feels like a lot of Americans who aren't of any sort of AAPI descent have become extremely familiar with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cultures.

Apart from the food, what other aspects of Vietnamese culture should Americans from other backgrounds look into because it's something that would likely appeal to the majority of people? What music, film, art, etc. should we look into to gain a better understanding of Vietnamese culture?

nguyencoffeesupply144 karma

Hi Project Shamrock! Great question about exploring the richness and diversity of Vietnamese culture!

Totally agree that food and beverage are easy access points into our culture, and, yes, there's so much more to appreciate!

For starters, Vietnamese music is AMAZING. You won't need to understand all the lyrics to feel the emotion of the song. Vietnamese music is very poetic, romantic and deep. I would start with some icons like Ngoc Lan and Khanh Ly. As a former painter, Vietnamese lacquer paintings are one of my favorite genres of art -- the colors, style and method are unlike any painting I grew up seeing in art museums here. In terms of films, my first rec is "A Village Called Versailles" which will offer one perspective into the painfully powerful Vietnamese American experience, post Katrina.

ProjectShamrock22 karma

Thank you for the great response. I don't know if you'll see this for a follow up but it's kind of sad that you would consider yourself a "former painter". If the inspiration comes to you, please make time to revisit it. Sometimes we don't give ourselves enough free time to pursue our artistic interests (which I don't know if that is your situation or not) but I feel like art makes the world a better place.

Also thanks for the movie recommendation. I live in Houston and in the wake of Katrina I volunteered to help people coming from Louisiana and ended up being tasked with helping reunite families. That film must offer an interesting perspective that I hadn't really considered before.

nguyencoffeesupply21 karma

I really appreciate the encouragement, thank you ProjectShamrock :) I'll keep the paintbrushes around.

twec2194 karma

This is gonna sound stupid, but, how do you pronounce "Nguyen?" I work in a caller center, I see it ALL the time, and I don't think I've ever heard it said the same way twice

nguyencoffeesupply125 karma

Great question! ProjectShamrock is correct!

If we're talking about the Anglicized version of "Nguyen" then common versions are "win" "nu-win" and "nu-yen".

The long explanation is -- Vietnamese is a tonal language, and there are tones that don't exist in the English language. So technically the tones of "Nguyễn" don't exist in English, so it's not a perfect translation.

But for your work at the caller center, any of the Anglicized version above should work great! :)

AznSzmeCk19 karma

I think it'd be difficult for an English speaker to make the proper sound, so don't sweat it and 'Win' is probably the closest you'll get. There's a nasal aspect to it; the best I can do is point you to the International Phonetic Alphabet symbol for the consonant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiced_velar_nasal

nguyencoffeesupply34 karma

I agree! Love this approach -- don't sweat it. "Win" is a totally acceptable pronunciation of "Nguyen". How to pronounce "Nguyen" is one of the most defining questions of my generation! :-P

Magellie41 karma

Hi Sahra! I know that Viet Kieu often have a difficult time connecting with Vietnamese locals, especially if they aren’t as familiar among them towns and cities. How did you begin to build your relationship with the Vietnamese coffee farmers as a Vietnamese American?

nguyencoffeesupply61 karma

Hi Magellie! As a Viet Kieu with a majority of my family still living in Vietnam, I get a lot of assistance in connecting with Vietnamese locals. I may travel to Vietnam alone but once I arrive, I spend all of my time with family. One thing that has helped me build my relationship with Vietnam is studying the written language. By learning how to read and write in Vietnamese, it's improved my Vietnamese speaking skills. In regards to building a relationship with our coffee farmers, my family supported me in establishing this in the early days. Trust is the most important thing in building relationships so I'd recommend finding ways to establish trust with anyone you're trying to build with -- personal or professional!

Fun-Transition-508032 karma

It’s my understanding the indigenous Vietnamese have been run off their lands and coffee plantations run by the state constructed on these lands. Are your suppliers part of this?

nguyencoffeesupply55 karma

Our suppliers are not part of this as we work with a multi-generational family-owned and operated farm.

Fun-Transition-508021 karma

I’m glad to hear it. The locals in the highlands in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have had a rough couple of decades.

nguyencoffeesupply20 karma

Thank you for letting us know. We'll look into it!

Manaleaking19 karma

I remember your last AMA. Thanks for coming back. How do you hire the right people to maintain the relationships with your suppliers and clients? How can you tell someone in that position is good at their job? What are your plans in terms of succession in the business?

nguyencoffeesupply24 karma

Hi again! Thank you for joining us again :)

Hiring is always tough, especially in the early days. Currently, I am still the main point of contact to maintain relationships with suppliers -- especially all of our partners in Vietnam -- because this is a very special relationship rooted in my family history, cultural connection and trust. Also, it requires someone who can read, write and speak in Vietnamese, which I currently do to run the business.

In terms of succession plan -- I haven't thought this far yet since we are just getting started!! However, it is my dream to build this company up to be bigger than me, fully sustainable without me and to become a positive, regenerative ecosystem for everyone along the supply chain to consumers.

brodingus19 karma

Did you hear about the discovery of Coffea stenophylla? Arabica like flavor, but grows in warmer climates. I wonder if this variety would grow well in Vietnam?

nguyencoffeesupply30 karma

Based on the fact that Coffea stenophylla grows in similar conditions as robusta (Coffea canephora), and Vietnam is the #1 producer of robusta coffee beans, my assumption is YES, Coffea stenophylla would grow well in Vietnam! Did we just unlock the future of coffee???

alarmclock300015 karma

Why did you decide to use "Nguyen" Coffee Supply when there are so many Nguyens out there?

nguyencoffeesupply49 karma

Because I wanted to bring more visibility and representation to my community by putting "Nguyen" front and center. I also think it's a great access point to discuss pronunciation, diacritics, tones and linguistics.

caphesuadalover7 karma

What are some brew tools and techniques from Asian cultures we should know about?

nguyencoffeesupply25 karma

We're huge champions of the traditional Vietnamese phin filter or Vietnamese coffee maker!!! There's no paper waste, it's super easy to use, makes a versatile cup of hot or iced coffee, strong espresso style or light americano style (with the second pour). We are TEAM PHIN!!

Alwayssunnyinarizona6 karma

How did your upbringing and culture drive your interest in becoming a coffee entrepreneur?

nguyencoffeesupply25 karma

Hi Alwayssunnyinarizona! This is a great question.

Growing up in Boston as a 1st generation, Vietnamese American and daughter of refugees in the late 80s and 90s, I often felt invisible due to the lack of representation in media, music videos, magazines and TV. When I discovered activism in high school through the Coalition for Asian Pacific American Youth (a non-profit org housed within the Asian American Studies Program at UMass Boston), I grew a passion for social justice, which put me on my lifelong path to increasing visibility and representation of my community.

When I discovered that Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world, I realized that many people including myself were unaware of this fact, and this is due to lack of transparency and representation. Vietnamese coffee has essentially been excluded from and rendered invisible in the coffee community. This is when I saw a connection between the Asian American experience and Vietnamese coffee (beans & farmers) -- we are rendered invisible by mainstream society.

This is when I decided that I would change this by becoming a coffee entrepreneur and starting Nguyen Coffee Supply. By bringing visibility and transparency to Vietnamese coffee farmers, the 2nd largest producer of coffee in the world, we create opportunities for economic advancement and agricultural, social and cultural sustainability.

We established our first farm partnership in 2016, incorporated in March of 2018, and launched nationally (product in market) on November 17, 2018.

pngoo5 karma

Loyalty or Truegrit for you? I just bought a bag of Loyalty and it tastes great, but not as strong as I was expecting. I’m planning on trying Truegrit next for that Vietnamese-coffee kick

nguyencoffeesupply7 karma

It depends on the drink recipe I'm making! If I'm making a coconut or pandan latte, 100% robusta with Truegrit is the way to go. If I'm making a Vietnamese latte or cappuccino with a smidge of sweetened condensed milk and steamed milk, I go with Loyalty.

When you say "not as strong" -- is this related to the taste or the caffeine kick? Admittedly, our Truegrit is a medium roast to bring out the most flavor notes, so it won't have a dark roasted experience. However, the darker the roast, the more caffeine content is lost through roasting. So if you're interested strong coffee in terms of caffeine content, Truegrit is the way to go! Also depends on your brew method and coffee to water ratio. But if you wanted a dark flavor that signals strong, I can totally see where Truegrit may not meet your expectations there.

Thank you for trying us out!

ActionPoker5 karma

Pho or bun bo hue?

nguyencoffeesupply9 karma

This is tough....... if I HAD to choose, I would say pho. You?

ScarletFeverOrYellow4 karma

Your coffee is delicious! My partner and I are big fans. Which one is your favorite?

nguyencoffeesupply12 karma

Thank you so much. This is like asking which child is your favorite. I love them all equally! And I drink Loyalty everyday. :)

whatsajawsh4 karma

Your roastery is in Brooklyn, so what’s your favorite coffee shop in NYC?

Mine’s gotta be Joe on Waverly place. Just wish there was sitting room

nguyencoffeesupply9 karma

My favorite coffee shop in NYC/BK is Mixtape Bushwick!

Ipad_is_for_fapping2 karma

Is this the same coffee as the G7 instant coffee I see in Asian stores?

nguyencoffeesupply7 karma

No, we are not the same brand.

cdnkevin2 karma

Thank you for doing this.

When the pandemic started I stood up for Chinese people when a neighbour said “fuck the Chinese” and a bunch of racialize epithets, including that the pandemic was that average a Chinese person’s fault. I told her that she can’t say that and that the majority of Chinese people are powerless and don’t have information or power to change anything. I think she ‘socially blacklisted’ me with some people in the building and life got lonelier.

Some questions:

(1) in what ways, if at all, have political statements from leaders contributed to anti-Asian hate in your part of America?

(2) have people of power (politicians, police, etc.) in your area helped Asians as they face racism and other hateful acts?

(3) what isn’t being done, that should be done, in your area, in America, and in other parts of the world?

nguyencoffeesupply-2 karma

Hi cdnkevin! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and standing up for Chinese folx against racially charged verbal attacks. Your building community is a better place with folx like you looking out for others!

1) Personally, I feel political statements from leaders who insisted on scapegoating the Chinese for COVID-19 by saying things like "Kung Flu" and calling it the "Chinese virus" has contributed greatly to anti-Asian hate in America today. This behavior models and encourages hate, scapegoating and violence. Due to failed leadership in creating a cohesive national plan to respond to COVID-19 early enough, the spread of the virus has led to 32.6M cases and 580K deaths in this country, in addition to hundreds of thousands of restaurants and storefronts forced to shut down, and millions of jobs lost. There is a lot of hurt in this country and blaming China puts all Asian people at risk of being attacked.

2) The people I've seen help Asians the most are folx at the grassroots level -- community efforts, activists, organizers, small businesses and neighbors.

3) What isn't being done, that should be done: more financial investment in schools, small businesses and communities populated by marginalized, underserved folx. This means other areas need to be defunded, like the police state. There needs to be Ethnic Studies, including Asian American Studies, in K-12 curriculum. There needs to be more women of color in leadership positions across all industries and levels of government.

Happy APAHM!

[deleted]1 karma


caphesuadalover3 karma

hi the proof is right here: https://twitter.com/NguyenCoffeeNYC/status/1390727465790750723

can you please put this back up?

nguyencoffeesupply1 karma

Thank you so much!!!!

NiceAmphibianThing1 karma

Hi Sahra! Do you have any opinions on the state of immigration laws in the US, and what we can do to reform them? I don't want to derail the thread if that's too far away from the topics you wanted to talk about, although I think there's a lot of connection.

Also, as someone who's only knowledge of Vietnamese food is pho, can you recommend me a "beginner" dish to try? Something that's normally a crowd pleaser.

nguyencoffeesupply10 karma

Hi NiceAmphibianThing!

This is a great question, thank you for asking. For starters, Biden's recent announcement about lifting the refugee cap from 15,000 to 62,500 is a start -- whether or not 62,500 refugees are administered to enter is another story.

When it comes to immigration laws in the U.S., my opinion is to center basic human rights and family (re)unification. For example, the U.S. deports Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees after these refugees have been welcomed into the country, served their time for misdemeanor offenses years ago, and now living with their families. But due to unjust laws, they are retroactively punished -- like a double sentence. As recent as this past March, 33 Vietnamese people in this country were stripped apart from their families and deported to Vietnam-- a country many of them have never seen since they escaped the war.

Detention, deportation and community bans rip families apart and creates generations of harm. In re: to reform, the first thing I'd like lawmakers to focus on is end Repatriation Agreements with all countries, end all deportation, end all detention centers (private and public), abolish ICE and give deported folx the right to return and reunite with their families immediately.

In re: to a "beginner dish and crowd pleaser" I'd recommend bun bo hue.

DoctahDank1 karma

I'm going to Vietnam next year (COVID pending) for a school trip and I was wondering if there's any particular food I should be on the lookout for? Any help at all is greatly appreciated!

nguyencoffeesupply2 karma

Everything is delicious, and the cuisine will vary as you travel up and down the country. I'm a huge fan of Vietnamese street food -- anything grilled! My best travel tip: take a swig of pepto bismol each morning before you indulge in the culinary adventures :)

rubberducky1212-5 karma

I, personally, have a lot of respect for Asian culture and I'm very peaceful in that unless a specific person gives me a reason not to, I will always be nice. My dad is racist and is very difficult to talk to, I'm not asking for solutions just saying my situation. I come from a very white washed state, probably only 10 of 400 in my graduating class weren't white. I very much want to help out Asian communities when they are going through so much right now, but I don't know how. There are no nearby areas that Asians generally live or work and it's not feasible for me to go to the city right now. What can I do to help? Even if it's just something small, I want to help stop the blind hate that isn't deserved.

nguyencoffeesupply5 karma

Hi rubberducky1212, thank you for being here and for asking how to help. Being an ally is not about being perfect or having all the answers, it is about having the willingness and intention to TRY and take action by doing the right thing -- which you are.

Based on your comment my assumption is that you are a white person (is this true?). If yes, my advice and my ask for you is: talk to other white people about racism, about anti-Asian violence, about police brutality, about systemic racism, about why these things are wrong. This is one of the most impactful ways white allies can help.

You do not need to drive to an Asian community and interact directly with Asian folx to help. We actually need white people organizing with and talking to other white people -- because you have an access point that POCs do not. While it may be difficult, this is why we need this help. And perhaps you can pick and choose who you engage with -- are they totally unmovable or are they willing to dialogue with an open mind?

StickyLip12 karma

We actually need white people organizing with and talking to other white people -- because you have an access point that POCs do not.

Is white-on-asian violence the driver of most anti-asian violence and hate?

How will white people talking to other white people help end anti-asian violence?

nguyencoffeesupply10 karma

I was not talking about the perpetrators or blaming any one group for the violence... the problem is systemic, not individualistic. Change requires all communities to come together to work on a solution, not just the ones who are impacted.

Strudel07-5 karma

And relationship to Amy Kim Nguyen?

nguyencoffeesupply6 karma

Which one? :-P

schadkehnfreude-15 karma

(FYI, There's at least one brigader downvoting everything in this AMA, at least partially because it's for an Asian woman but that's reddit for you. Hopefully the mods can ban them)

I'm very excited about what you're doing and was lucky enough to have one of the famous egg coffees from Hanoi!

Since my trip, I've been getting Trung Nguyen for my vietnamese coffee fix - I suspect it's flavored with the subtle chocolate notes but that's all good with me! How would you compare your product with theirs?

nguyencoffeesupply5 karma

Hi schadkehnfreude! Thanks for the heads up about that downvoter!

Chocolate and coffee are delicious together!

The main difference for us is that we focus on 100% fresh roasted coffee beans with no additives or artificial flavors, to promote the integrity and versatility of Vietnamese coffee beans in its natural state. We challenge the reductive and limiting narrative that Vietnamese coffee is synonymous with cheap and instant. While this may be one part of the industry, Vietnamese coffee and farmers should not be excluded from the values and opportunities within specialty coffee culture. Vietnamese coffee farmers and robusta farmers around the world deserve the opportunity to advance their lives.

Specialty coffee isn't just something we drink. Specialty coffee is a collective investment from people all along the supply chain to create an equitable and sustainable world. There's no reason why Vietnam, the second largest coffee producer in the world, should be excluded from this conversation.

For the record, no shade to flavored coffee -- to each their own! We're here to say YES AND. To expand, diversify and build a more inclusive coffee culture for all.