Bitter, Sweet
Thy Nguyen
a /’aah/ coffee, a brand that encapsulates the rich Vietnamese coffee culture, offers more than just a cup of coffee. It captures the essence of the ambience, aroma, authenticity, and art that defines Vietnamese’s everyday life.
It is no surprise coffee is a common beverage in the world and in all aspects of daily life. An individual can study, work, observe, and make conversation next to a cup of coffee. Beside many disparate cultures of coffee drinks around the world, Vietnamese coffee seems to have unusual notes with truly unique street coffee culture. Vietnamese people live and breathe their coffee as extensions to local cafés can be found in every street corner. At first glance, these local cafes may be named differently or located in unalike buildings. However, they all share many similar characteristics, which include the sitting styles of local customers drinking coffee on the sidewalk, the drinks listed on the menus, and the table arrangement. Customers are surrounded by the intensity of sound from the street and people talking, but in front of them, the coffee is brewed gradually and silently. The surrounding environment is crowded and loud, yet slow and quiet at the same time. Vietnamese do not drink coffee because of its caffeine effect, they relish their coffee as a form of art. They value the time having little sips of coffee while talking, working, and contemplating. They focus on enjoying their cup of coffee without being distracted by the surroundings. Unlike other modern coffee houses, the warm welcome of these local cafés make their customers feel like home. All these aspects build an exclusive branding of street coffee culture in Vietnam that cannot be found anywhere else around the world. As someone who identifies as a Vietnamese and a coffee enthusiast, I intend to visualize this iconic experience to whoever has not had a chance to know about it via a brand that will tell intriguing stories and meanings about Vietnamese coffee culture.
Research Questions
  1. What are the meanings behind the coffee experience in Vietnam? What are the elements that build the Vietnamese coffee culture?
  2. How does Viet coffee culture differ from other cultures in the world?
  3. How to visualize the coffee experience for non-Vietnamese?
The goal of this project is to capture the essence of Vietnam's iconic coffee experience through a compelling brand that shares intriguing stories and meaningful insights about Vietnamese coffee culture, thus bringing the rich and unique coffee culture of Vietnam to those who may not have had the opportunity to discover it firsthand.
Connie Hwang–Primary Advisor
SJSU Professor, Graphic Designer
Earl Gee–Secondary Advisor
SJSU Professor, Graphic Design & Branding
Joe Miller–Tertiary Advisor
SJSU Professor, Graphic Design & 3D Branding
Process Book