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Carving out a coffee niche

Released at: 14:18, 07/12/2017

Carving out a coffee niche

Photo: KIM&KIM International

Ms. Kim Hanh Nguyen, CEO of KIM&KIM International, which owns The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee, tells VET about its branding strategy and its plans to expand the brand in the future.

by Huyen Thanh

What is the special feature of The Yellow Chair’s branding strategy given that its products are positioned in the premium segment?

The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee’s mission is to inspire coffee lovers from all over the world to take a coffee discovery. In particular, we wish to introduce Vietnam’s specialty beans to the world. Moreover, we would like to bring Asian beans to the world, and Vietnamese beans in particular. With our top-notch, state-of-the-art skills in processing green beans, cupping and roasting, and brewing, we have been making Vietnamese specialty coffee beans that match the quality of other coffee-growing countries’ specialty coffee for years.

Coffee lovers may be aware of the difference between specialty coffee and commercial coffee. However, there are still many people who are yet to know the difference but are very excited to learn more. Simply put, the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association, which is a merger of the SCAA in the US and the SCAE in the EU), has its own standards to verify coffee, on a scale of 100, with 1-79 being commercial coffee and 80+ begin specialty coffee.

With wine, sommeliers know the origin of the grapes from just one sip. With coffee, professional cuppers can also identify the source of the beans from just one sip.

Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of Robusta beans and the world’s second-largest exporter of both Robusta and Arabica beans. There are currently a lot of qualified and experienced cuppers and Q-Graders in the country.

Only 2-10 per cent of people that process and make high quality and rare beans in the world like specialty coffee. There are not many companies in Vietnam producing specialty coffee beans. We at The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee are taking that path, with a potential niche market and potential customers, with a team of two qualified Arabica Q-Graders and two Robusta Q-Graders with more than ten years of experience as roasters. We promise our valued customers that we will deliver the highest quality products and services possible and offer a value-added experience. Our motto and reason for being is to continuously innovate and develop products for customers and to aim for sustainability.

Who are the targeted customers of The Yellow Chair?

We firmly believe that “our coffee is your story”. Therefore, The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee brand is like your cozy “cocoon”, sourcing sensations and sharing the senses that sublimate your souls. We always strive to make a cup of coffee for customers who enjoy life to the fullest after working hard. We believe that in order to do that, each of us has to start by respecting ourselves and our surroundings.

We focus on delivering high quality products and services. In order to keep our promises to customers, our business foundation and core values are all in line. We have authenticity, sincerity, and serenity, and our brand’s “personality” includes 1. competence, 2. trustworthiness, 3. prestige, 4. elegance, and 5. charm.

After a year of operations, what do you think about the level of awareness among customers when it comes to distinguishing pure 100 per cent coffee beans and coffee mixed with non-coffee ingredients?

At The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee, most of our international customers are able to identify the taste and quality right from the first sip, thanks to their exposure to the coffee experience. For our local customers, it may take more time for us to share with them the differences in bean quality. Once they realize, they will be able to fully enjoy our specialty coffee. Most of our customers have come to prefer and love specialty coffee after learning the difference between pure 100 per cent coffee beans and the way of hand-picking the beans with innovative processing methods, such as semi-washed, fully washed, and natural and honey processing. Mixing non-coffee ingredients into the coffee and other ways of roasting (dark-burned and butter, salt, wine, etc.) can be harmful to human health.

At our showroom, we have been organizing numerous events for customers to try different coffee beans from Vietnam and all around the world. We share new knowledge with them about the coffee experience and coffee discovery. Eventually, well-informed consumers will prefer specialty coffee to commercial coffee.

How are the prices at The Yellow Chair?

Through The Yellow Chair - Specialty Coffee’s top-notch products and services, customers will be able to enjoy life, with self-confidence, returning to the core of living and, most of all, connecting with nature. These are the added values we offer to customers, which will make it worthwhile for them to spend their hard-earned income on our quality products.

Who are the rivals of The Yellow Chair?

As we emerge in social media and interact more with customers, we have fully utilized our Facebook fan page, Instagram account, YouTube channel, and official website, actively sharing the research and development of our specialty coffee not only in Vietnam but all over the world. Our passion is to spread awareness about our core product - coffee, from its history and origin to the coffee culture.

Our coffee showroom and bar is strategically located at 48C Vo Van Tan in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City. It is within a walking distance of tourist attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and Independence Palace, as well as the CBD in District 1. Our coffee can be enjoyed at the five-star hotel chains of Hyatt, Intercontinental, and Imperial, with many more places to come in the near future. Looking forward, we are planning to open more branches in developed countries such as South Korea, Japan, the US, and the UAE.

Why did you develop the brand in Ho Chi Minh City and the south first, and not in Hanoi and the north?

This is indeed a very interesting question. Coffee was first brought to northern Vietnam during French colonial times for industrial purposes. However, exports from and use in southern Vietnam were higher. Later, coffee was grown more in the central highlands, in Da Lat and Dalak. Saigonese, as they lived in a city, were very quick to adapt and most of our customers are more dynamic and from all walks of life, while Hanoians are traditional and remain close to their roots. After thoroughly surveying customers, we are looking forward to penetrating into the coffee-loving community in Hanoi in the near future.

What are your ambitions with The Yellow Chair?

We will attend “The World Champion Roaster for Fine Robusta” contest and together with Vietnamese coffee farmers strive to make Vietnam-originated beans appear on the list of coffee that coffee lover from over the world simply “must try”.

We see that many countries have come to Vietnam to seek old variety beans, such as Moka and Typica.

We sincerely hope that all Vietnamese coffee lovers will support us and we believe that together we will further take Vietnam’s coffee industry to the world and earn a good reputation and image and respect from our peers.

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