Thanks to the colonization of Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century is a country where coffee plantations abound. The country is one of the top coffee growers in the world, exporting between 1.5-to-2 million tons of beans each year.
Vietnamese style coffee is generally a dark a rich drip coffee cut with sweetly thick condensed milk. Ice coffee also has a long tradition in Vietnam.
And now, Pham Dinh Nguyen, a Vietnamese businessman, has a dream (and a plan) to bring Vietnamese coffee traditions to the United States.
And he is approaching it in a very unusual way.
He plans to serve coffee free-of-charge for visitors of Buford, Wyoming.
If you haven’t been to Buford, it is located between Laramie and Cheyenne off of Interstate 80, the main cross-country route between New York and San Francisco. In other words, in the middle of…nowhere.
Pham Dinh Nguyen bought the town of Buford—reportedly the smallest town in the country (population 1), and plans to sell Vietnamese coffee there in 250 – 500g packs at the local convenience store which he plans to turn into a coffeehouse.
“I hope that selling Vietnamese coffee right in the US will help promote the products and the Vietnamese coffee-sipping style directly to the American consumers,” Nguyen, 39, told Tuoi Tre.
Buford (which he bought for $900,000 at an auction) currently has a trading post, a convenience store, and a filling station.
Nguyen plans to rename Buford into PhinDeli. “It’s the combination of phin, the Vietnamese name for the small metal French drip filter used for brewing coffee, and deli, abbreviation for delicious,” he explained.
Nguyen’s plans beyond Buford seem to be a little vague, but heart-felt. He says marketing of his Vietnamese style coffee will be done through social media because he “cannot afford the ad rates in the US.”
“I hope that renaming the town will be a newsworthy event for local press and media that will help lure more visitors to the town,” he said, adding that new billboards with the PhinDeli name will replace the old ones along the highway from Cheyenne to the town to inform drivers.
Nguyen will also distribute the products via Amazon, and will try to have them on shelves first at the Asian supermarkets, then larger chains like Wal-Mart or Costco, he said.
“Everything is not simple, but I’m ready to pursue this dream of selling Vietnamese coffee in the US,” he asserted, adding that he is “as excited to begin this new journey as when buying the town.”
True entrepreneurship has no bounds, or deterrents.
Vietnamese style coffee image courtesy of Shutterstock