September Sub-box Feature: Vivian from Vietnamese Coffee Project ☕️
We're kicking off our subscription boxes with our very first small business gift feature! This month for our coffee themed box, we have drip samplers from local business Viet Coffee Project in their two cups: Hanoi Hustle (Fine Robusta from Bao Loc, offering double the caffeine for an energetic boost) and Saigon Supreme (100% arabica from Langbiang, grown at high-altitude).
We spoke to owner Vivian on her story, what made her start Viet Coffee Project and everything else in between!
1. Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself and your brand story!
I'm Vivian Vo, the founder of the Viet Coffee Project. I grew up in Biên Hòa, a small city located an hour northeast of Saigon in Vietnam. At 17, I secured a scholarship at ICMS in Manly and embarked on my Australian journey. Sydney has since become my home, where I built a career in tech and launched my own company.
But before all of that, I developed a deep love affair for coffee, and it all started with my grandparents. My grandma loved coffee. Every time she brewed a Cà Phê Đá (black Vietnamese Iced Coffee) I'd wait for her to finish, add some cold water, and drink what was left. By the time I was 17, my friends and I were riding our motorbikes to specialty coffee shops in Saigon, enjoying coffee together.
A few years in, I realised cafes didn't offer Vietnamese coffee beans as an option, which sparked my curiosity, and set me on a path to learn why, and ultimately, to start my first business.
2. How did you get started with the Viet Coffee Project and the inspiration behind it?
My partner and I had a monthly coffee subscription for our espresso machine at home. However, it wasn't until the 20th bag that I realised the beans largely hailed from the same regions — Ethiopia, Colombia, and Brazil. Strikingly, none were from Asia, let alone Vietnam!
When I approached local baristas to ask about Vietnamese coffee, the response was disheartening: "Vietnamese coffee beans are low quality; you won't find them served in Australia." At VCP, we directly source coffee beans from producers in Vietnam's Central Highlands and lovingly roast them in Sydney, ensuring fresh delivery across Australia.
3. What’s your favourite thing about working on Viet Coffee Project? And not so favourite parts.
I absolutely love all our farm visits! Understanding how coffee is cultivated and processed has been very eye-opening. Since launching VCP, we've seen a positive shift in the perception of Vietnamese coffee. Also, partnering directly with the farmers has not only ensured a fair price for their produce but also led to improved farming practices in the regions we collaborate with.
On the other hand, my least favourite thing has to be managing social media. While it’s an amazing tool to connect with the community and share the journey, the portrayal of 'perfect lives' and the harsh comments and feedback can be tough to stomach, but I’m trying my best.
4. What has been your greatest achievement since starting the Viet Coffee Project?
Just launching the business on my own! This was my first business so I had to learn a lot of new skills along the way to get ready for the launch. Everything from importing, packaging design, branding, logistics to sales & marketing! It was so intimidating at first, but with baby steps, a lot of hard work and a community behind me, I was able to bring the Viet Coffee Project to life and I’m so proud of that!
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’d love to see our products displayed on retail shelves across Australia and of course, VCP coffee bags in more homes. Specialty coffee can be intimidating and high brow. With VCP, I aim to make coffee accessible and easy for everyone.
Looking forward, we're exploring more ways to bring our unique coffee experience to everyone. We're excited about ideas like ready-to-drink coffee, specialty drip bags, and coffee liqueur for cocktails — it’s all exciting for us!
So, in 5 years? Expect to see VCP continuing to break down barriers, easily found in your local retail store!
6. A candle scent you can’t live without:
It has to be any Christmas spiced scented candles for me! It smells and feels like a warm hug! Lately, I’ve been thinking about a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Coconut Coffee scented candles yet I haven’t found one yet. Though, I can already imagine how delicious my apartment could smell.
7. What’s your one self-care tip?
Protect your downtime religiously! Lives can be so busy and you need to have your own downtime to recharge. Be that 30 minutes, an hour or a day of doing what you love. For me, it’s just staying in bed with my Saigon Supreme as a long black, watching Lana Del Rey live performances on YouTube or any movies that are set in New York.
8. What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
When I started Viet Coffee Project, I wanted to focus on e-commerce/direct to consumer sales. However, it’s been so exciting to see restaurants and stockists getting on board. I’m working hard to grow our distribution and connect with F&B businesses who would like to partner with us — so watch this space! I’ve also been invited to speak on a panel for the first time by the Powerhouse Museum in September so I’m very excited about that.
Launching VCP took a lot of work and weekends away, so I’ve sort of been neglecting my personal relationships a little bit. These days I really look forward to spending more time with close friends and my family, specifically, my partner’s family — I love them like my own!
That aside, as the year unfolds, expect not just growth for VCP. Anticipate stories of connections, community, inclusivity, and a brand that's set to redefine coffee culture. We're here to elevate Vietnamese coffee and introduce more diverse and representative narratives into the consumer goods space!