Will Frith
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» As it cools

Specialty coffee in Vietnam: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) coffee shops, roasters, and baristas, and Dalat green coffee farmers, processors, and evangelists.

Differentiation = Competition?

A diversity of tastes is beginning to take shape in Vietnamese coffee drinkers' preferences - with SBUX (Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, et al) and Italian-style coffee and espresso (Illy, Lavazza, and others) growing alongside the more mainstream Vietnamese approach's continual growth. Latte art is starting to show up in marketing materials and I've seen a couple of decent pours in my short time in Ho Chi Minh City and Dalat. Is it called competition when it's really differentiation? Should the big companies have anything to fear? If anything, they should embrace (dare I say Co-opt?) diversification into specialty markets. The more overall local consumption, the better, right? A diverse market is a thriving market. The more diverse the possibilities of expression, the more diverse the consumer experience, hence a better understanding of what coffee is and can be - and a better understanding of why coffee is so important to Vietnam's economic growth, and why Vietnam's coffee is important to the world supply.

This growth gives Vietnam a chance to not just meet, but exceed, its own standards - continuously raising the bar for quality of production (sustainable, ethical) as well as product. This is Vietnam's chance to show the world that it can meet an international coffee standard given the chance. A diverse, ethical market is a sustainable market, right?