A little bit of the bayou is coming to Southeast Asia as New Orleans-Style coffee is about to take hold in Vietnam. New Orleans' PJ Coffee, a chain with a long history of slinging chicory coffee goodness throughout the Crescent City since 1978, launched in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last week. The opening of PJ's Coffee in Vietnam marks the first time that a coffee shop of its kind has opened in the country (aside from Starbucks, that is), and marks another victory for chicory coffee's quest for total global domination. In other words, New Orleans' coffee culture is going global.
Of course, Vietnam's coffee culture is pretty robust all on its own. Its strong, sweet, milky coffee style made a splash in the United States this summer, as a crop of Vietnamese coffee shops in New York appeared all over the city popping up all over the place. There are even some great Vietnamese iced coffee recipes out there that make it easy to pull a perfect cup at home. That means that any foreign businesses hoping to sell coffee in Vietnam that want to make a splash have a pretty hard road ahead. But that doesn't mean that an intrepid few aren't willing to try.
Best of all, Vietnamese coffee culture already has a soft spot for chicory-like coffee. Contrary to popular belief, Vietnamese coffee doesn't include chicory per se, but typically uses dark-roasted Robusta beans, which are known for being a bit more bitter than the Arabica beans you'd usually find in a roast from your craft coffee company of choice. This means that the market for chicory coffee, which has a more full-bodied, bitter flavor profile could end up being a bit hit. Plus, Vietnam's PJ's Coffee will serve the company's full range of pastries and snacks, giving Ho Chi Minh city a taste of the Big Easy.
This isn't the only expansion PJ's Coffee has its sight set on. The company looking to open a second store in Vietnam later this year, and wants to open 11 international outposts during the next five years. It's a good time to be in the New Orleans-style coffee game. Even better if you can crack into the Vietnamese coffee craze right in its birthplace, too.