New York City-based Vietnamese coffee roasting, importing and equipment company Nguyen Coffee Supply has scored a $2.6 million seed funding round.
With no single lead investor, the funding came from a group composed of 40% women, 69% Asian-Americans, and 77% people of color, according to the company. Individual investors include founders or executives of numerous lifestyle and e-commerce companies, including Skillshare, Guitar Hero, DoorDash and Care.com.
Nguyen coffee supply was founded by first-generation Vietnamese American Sahra Nguyen, a former Brooklyn restaurateur who ventured into coffee in 2018.
Since that time — through a New York pop-up cafe, the launch of a line of traditional Vietnamese phin brewers, and a thriving coffee roasting business — Nguyen has been a tireless advocate for Vietnamese-grown robusta coffees.
The work led Nguyen to the cover of the 2021 Game Changers issue of Food & Wine magazine, among other accolades.
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Vietnam is the world’s largest commercial producer of the climate-resilient robusta coffee species, which has historically been overshadowed by the arabica species in terms of overall quality, complexity and premium market appeal.
“We’re excited to further our mission to expand the awareness and enjoyment of robusta coffee,” Nguyen said in an announcement of the funding round. “As a first-generation Vietnamese American, building a brand rooted in cultural diversity and inclusion is a major part of my business plan.”
The past five years has been a boom-time for fresh interpretations of Vietnamese coffees in the United States, thanks to an entrepreneurial wave of first generation Vietnamese Americans.
In addition to Nguyen Coffee Supply’s rapid ascent, the U.S. specialty coffee market has recently witnessed new Vietnamese-American-owned coffee and coffee-adjacent companies such as Tí Cafe in Denver, Fat Miilk in St. Louis, Coffeeholic House and Hello Em Việt in Seattle, and Portland Cà Phê in Oregon.
This has been accompanied by a movement in the specialty coffee industry to embrace the concepts of differentiation and high quality in robusta coffees, which can be grown at lower elevations and are generally more climate- and disease-resistant than arabicas, even if they come with their own set of environmental issues.
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Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.
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