Since then, people began trying the citrus coffee combination with shockingly refreshing results. This includes Vince Nguyen, the founder of new Los Angeles-based coffee roaster, Nam Coffee.
Nguyen has been around coffee his whole life. “I helped my mom with a coffee cart when I lived in Vietnam,” he explains, “so I’ve been loving Vietnamese coffee all my life.” But when he moved to the U.S., he had trouble finding beans from his home country. He missed the captivating smell of Vietnam’s robusta beans and its eye-widening, strong flavor, so he decided to start his own Vietnamese coffee brand and bring the flavors stateside—for himself and other Vietnamese immigrants.
The brand currently has three roasts: Dalat, District One, and Orange County, all named after places significant to Nguyen.
“Part of me starting this brand is me wanting to uplift Vietnamese culture and people,” Nguyen says. That includes showing consumers that Vietnamese coffee isn’t a one-note drink that only works with condensed milk.
Nguyen first began experimenting with citrus coffee when he paired lemon juice with his coffee, hoping for a refreshing twist on his favorite caffeinated beverage. What it needed, however, was more sweetness. With inspiration from his Orange County coffee, he opted for orange juice.
Orange County, which is a 70% arabica and 30% robusta blend, is bold enough to stand up to the fresh fragrance of orange juice without overpowering it. The two create a sweet and bitter balance that is the perfect marriage of America’s favorite breakfast drinks. To make it a bit more Vietnamese, Nguyen included the addition of lemongrass.
“Lemongrass is a signature ingredient in Vietnam, Thailand, and throughout Southeast Asia,” Nguyen explains. “I’d had lemongrass in tea before so I always thought of it as a tea drink, but what if it was in coffee?”
The combination, to Nguyen, encapsulates the perfect summer drink. “This is just something different the community should try,” Nguyen encourages.
So if you’ve seen videos of orange-flavored cold brew, or espresso shots being added to tall glasses of OJ, this is your sign to try out this new coffee trend. It might just become your next favorite way to start your morning.