2021 Letter from CEO, Sahra Nguyen
Dear friends, family & community,
Sometimes it’s hard to see how much progress you’ve made when you’re deep in the trenches of building a scrappy startup. From the outside, our rise into mainstream audiences in 2021 alone was unparalleled. I made Vietnamese phin coffee for Drew Barrymore on her daytime television show, brought Vietnamese robusta to the forefront as the first entrepreneur to ever be featured on the cover of Food & Wine magazine, and discussed the Vietnamese coffee movement on Good Morning America. This year of momentous media signifies so much more than just “good PR.” Through every opportunity to tell our story, we are witnessing real culture shifts happen in America – these shifts move us towards a future where the resilient robusta bean can thrive, under-appreciated coffee origins like Southeast Asia can elevate, and 1st generation women of color entrepreneurs can completely transform their industries.
With any type of growth comes growing pains, and there were many challenges this year that didn’t make it to the sizzle reel. As a primarily DTC brand, the changes in iOS 14 and Facebook’s algorithm deeply hurt our ability to effectively reach new customers. As a small business that owns the importing process of our coffee beans directly from the source, we’ve been hit hard by global supply chain issues with lead times extending 3-4x and costs increasing 4-5x. Vietnam experienced its worst wave of COVID-19 leading to a 3 month lockdown, which deeply affected all working communities and labor shortages for harvest season. While these challenges don’t have overnight solutions, I’m proud to share that our team has been resolute in doing everything we possibly can on a daily basis to continue upholding our mission to deliver delicious Vietnamese coffee to the people.
When I first launched Nguyen Coffee Supply 3 years ago, the coffee landscape in America looked very different. There was no single origin, locally roasted Vietnamese coffee on the market and even worse, the Vietnamese robusta bean was maligned by coffee professionals with narratives that kept entire robusta farming communities trapped in poverty without any opportunity to advance within the specialty industry. Today, in the last year alone, we’ve seen the Vietnamese coffee movement boom across America with the emergence of Vietnamese coffee shops & brands popping up around the country. As I’ve often described for simplicity, remember before matcha and boba tea blew up? Vietnamese coffee is the next wave of Asian beverage culture in America. More importantly, Vietnamese robusta is the future of specialty coffee. The next wave of coffee is here and it’s growing.
Looking forward into 2022, we remain deeply committed to transforming the coffee industry through diversity, sustainability, & cultural integrity. We have some big things planned to bring the Vietnamese coffee movement – and our communities – to new heights. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Thank YOU for being part of our journey. It has truly been an incredible year for Nguyen Coffee Supply and we would not have been able to complete it without the support of our community, customers, investors, advisors, writers, & champions. Shout-out to our Day Ones!
Wishing you a healthy & happy holidays, and a very bright new year!
Sahra Nguyen, Founder & CEO
In case you missed it, catch up on some of our top stories this year: