Those of you who know about coffee culture in Vietnam will know that the East Asia country is famed for two things: its Robusta beans and Vietnamese coffee. Both are getting into the spotlight of late, with quality Robusta being more accepted as a worthwhile alternative to 100% Arabica blends and Vietnamese coffee popping here and there in cafes around the world.
While Robusta beans are easily available, Vietnamese coffee is an enriched coffee beverage that is made with condensed milk, sugar, and intense coffee from Vietnam. It must be made in a specific brewer, named phin, and served while still brewing. A pour over with a twist, basically. Few households have such a brewer, and rarely it is found outside of ethnic food stores. Thus, drinking true Vietnamese coffee is not an easy feat, nor accessible to many.
Enter Omni Bev. A woman-owned company from San Jose, California. The founder, Tammy Huynh, is actually from Vietnam and wanted to bring easy to drink Vietnamese coffee to the masses. Their latest product is thus a Vietnamese coffee that is cold brewed and canned, ready to be enjoyed with ease and simplicity at your home.
Ready to drink Vietnamese coffee: how is it made?
Omni Bev sources all their coffee from Vietnam, precisely from the lush mountains of Da Lat. The founder’s family is the proprietary of a coffee farm there, and the coffee is then internally sourced, guaranteeing a perfect traceability. We can consider the coffee from there a prime example of most coffee coming from Vietnam: significant body, bold, smooth and just the right amount of sweetness. It is strong yet pleasant. Unlike most pour overs, Vietnamese coffee correctly made is much heavier in the mouth thanks to the use of Robusta beans and the mixing it with condensed milk.
Omni Bev chose to bring this type of coffee in an easy to drink format. Thus, cold brewed, with a very low temperature, slow infusion time. All the coffee at Omni Bev is brewed in small batches, ensuring the right attention to each can of the cold brewed coffee. The manufacturing facilities are Safe Quality Foods (SQF) level 2 certified with an in house micro testing lab, performing testing on each small batch of coffee.
All brews are made and bottled in California. Only the beans are imported from Vietnam, for obvious reasons. An American-brewed coffee that is Vietnamese at heart.
The crucial difference between Omni Bev’s ready to drink coffee cans and those who can be had from Starbucks or Lavazza or Illy and plenty of other companies is the variety of the beans. Whereas plenty of other blends include Robusta beans, from Vietnam as well as the country is the biggest worldwide producer of this coffee variety, none have only Robusta beans from that country. The flavor profile is specifically geared towards those who appreciate Vietnamese coffee, straight or in the traditional way with the condensed milk.
On Omni Bev’s shop there are at the moment three varieties you can choose: a pure Vietnamese Black cold brew coffee, one with added coconut milk, and a third one that includes matcha as well. For an accurate experience of an iced Vietnamese coffee, the first variety, the straight one, can be used and mixed with condensed milk. Lactose-intolerant customers can go with the coconut milk version, and those wanting an iced coffee with a twist of matcha have their option as well.
If you’re curious to try these cold brews, the store locator shows the places where Omni Bev’s coffee can be bought locally. At the moment of this article, all are located on the West Coast. Alternatively, the online shop is available for purchasing across the USA. Omni Bev Vietnamese Cold Brew, can be bought at $23.94 for six 10-ounce bottles, $47.88 for 12, $26.99 for six in a variety pack including all three varieties.
Ready to drink coffee market on the rise
According to a research, the ready to drink (RTD) coffee-based beverages are driving the caffeine drinks market at large. The segment including these canned coffee drinks, along with single serve coffee pods, are gaining territory compared to the larger segments of roasted coffee and instant coffee. These two are seen in slight decline, as more people are switching or balancing their coffee expenditures across multiple types of coffee drinks and packages.
Refrigerated RTD coffee amassed $487 million in sales in total U.S. multi-outlets and convenience stores as of the 52 weeks ending May 17, according to data from Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI). This is a close to 20% increase compared to 2019. A whopping jump ahead. Most of this growth comprises cold brews and black coffee ready to drink products, with cappuccino/milk-based and iced coffee growing at a smaller scale.
Considering products like Omni Bev’s coffee, it is plain that consumers want to include different, original coffee drinks and origins in their daily intake of the caffeine-heavy beverage. Most of these RTD products are highly innovative, hitting segments of the markets that have been largely neglected or ignored by the older, more established, roasted coffee companies. As anybody who has visited a large supermarket in the last months can testify, new cans of RTD coffee are appearing on a nearly weekly basis. The growth and innovation of this market segment isn’t going to slow down, with smaller brands, like Omni Bev, raising to compete against the giants like Starbucks and Stok.
Similarly to single serve pods, according to Euromonitor, are going into the same direction, with a single large company, Keurig, being the major player in the USA but a lot of small, artisan-like brewers gaining traction and interest. RTD and single serve pods are therefore showing big similarities in how they have been developing as market’s segments and how the consumers are moving: towards specific, original, crafted to their tastes, local companies more than the generic, gather-to-everybody, already established companies.
Companies like Omni Bev are opening up new markets by innovating and risking their products in an area that is still uncharted waters in some way. It will be interesting to follow the market’s evolution in the following years to see what of these small companies got it right and thrived, and what sadly failed.