The Vietnamese-American-owner, importer, supplier and roaster of coffee beans from Vietnam, Sahra is on a mission to make sure that Vietnamese coffee culture gets the respect it deserves.

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Before Sahra Nguyen got into the coffee business she found success as a poet, activist, restaurateur and an award winning documentarian. The UCLA graduate has worked with and has been featured in NBC News, Wall Street Journal, Vice, Forbes, Verizon, NYU and TedX as well as been a member of Google Next Gen Leaders Program. A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, she was born and raised in Boston and has called Brooklyn home for her adult life. Interview by Hyun Kim. Photos by Erics Kun

TRENDVUE: Do you consider Nguyen Coffee Supply an Asian American brand or Vietnamese American brand?

SAHRA NGUYEN: I’ve never thought of it that way. I consider the company a premium Vietnamese coffee company and coffee is for everyone. One of the goals of building this company is to bring more diversity to the coffee experience and to the coffee conversation. So our approach is about breaking that up a bit and building a true culture around coffee where it’s people driven and not bean centric. Which is why we talk about the phin filter so much and talk about Vietnamese brew culture and not just the beans. …


Experiencing America’s reaction to the recent killings of Black lives at the hands of racist police via my social media feed while living in another country has left me in a fog of emotions.

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Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Both my thumbs are numb. From all the “doom scrolling” on my phone. My eyelids are heavy. They close. My mind opens them back up. Maybe it’s my conscious. I can’t turn away.

I am excited. I am afraid. I am proud. I am ashamed. I am confused. I am hopeful. I am overwhelmed. I slip in and out of each emotion throughout the day and night. Sometimes I feel all of them at the same time.

I see friends and family who have never posted about any social justice post about racism, white supremacy, privilege, police brutality and Black Lives Matter. I tell them I’m glad to see them doing so. I try my best to avoid telling them “About time!” or “Finally!” Even if I am thinking it. …


I’d seen the reports of Asians getting attacked as a result of the pandemic. I had to go outside for the first time since Spain went on full lockdown quarantine. It was a mix of emotions.

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I was here a little less than a full week before the shutdown

It’s day 34. Or maybe it’s day 33. 32 maybe? I don’t know. There was a State of Alarm from the government. Then a full lockdown. It was either March 14th or the 15th. I do remember that Thursday, March 13th was the last time I went to my Spanish class and it was the last time I was fully, freely out in the streets. It was also the last time I had an espresso. And it wasn’t even that good. Man,I really miss espressos.

It happened fast. The Sunday before the full lockdown I went to a big public gathering in the city square for a pyrotechnic display for Fallas, a UNESCO recognised annual event that brings over a million visitors from all over the world to our city of less than a million and injects millions of euros to the local economy. None of us thought the festival would be canceled. …


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My bedroom in Collegetown, Ithaca, NY circa 1993–1994

More Asian American stories are being told today than ever before. And that’s great. But it feels like the stories that get the most attention are those that seem to contradict the “model minority” stereotype. And along the way that narrative, rebelling against the model minority stereotype, is becoming a stereotype in itself.

I was born in Korea. Moved to The U.S. when I was 7. In Korea I got in trouble for running my mouth. I got punished in school. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was just rambunctious. I don’t remember being an excellent student but I don’t remember being a bad one either. …


With a new album and the romantic lead in the upcoming Anne Rice-adapted flick Queen of the Damned, Aaliyah is ready for superstardom. But don’t think you can get too close to her. Hyun Kim tried and found out that some things are best left alone.

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Illustration by Alvaro

Aaliyah lives the perfect life. To hear her tell it, she wouldn’t change a thing. “This is what I always wanted,” she says of her career. “I breathe to perform, to entertain, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I’m just a really happy girl right now. I honestly love every aspect of this business. I really do. …


One of the country’s most iconic record labels was modeled off of the main moneymakers in its hometown of Detroit, Michigan: the auto industry. “I wanted to have a kid off the street walk in one door unknown… and come out another door a star, like an assembly line,” label founder Berry Gordy told the Telegraph in 2016. “That was my dream.”

That germ of an idea would go on to sprout into one of the most important music labels of all time, the future Hitsville, U.S.A. Gordy called it Motown — a combined and shortened version of Detroit’s nickname: Motor Town. This year, that label celebrates its 60th anniversary of launching the careers of future Rock & Roll Hall of Famers like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, the Temptations, the Four Tops and Gladys Knight and the Pips. …


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For more than 15 years Bobby Kim, who goes by Bobby Hundreds, expressed himself through his iconic streetwear brand, The Hundreds. Now with the release of his book, “This Is Not a T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community — a Life in Streetwear,” he tells the world about his personal and brand journeys. Here, in his own words, Hundreds talks candidly about what he hopes to achieve with his first book, his painful childhood memories, the importance of a private life and the lack of love he’s received from the Asian American community.

I’ve never talked to anyone about this. Not even to my therapist or my wife. I’ve been broken. I’ve had my ego bruised … a lot. Crushed. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve hurt a lot of people. I’ve been humbled so many times. I have so much baggage that it’s really hard for me to consider myself better than anybody else. …


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“Why do you only hang out with other expats?” That’s essentially what she was asking. She was calling them out on their own Facebook group page for a co-working group here in Valencia that’s made up of mostly non-Spanish European expats. Many of them would consider themselves to be “digital nomads.” English is the primary language used in their weekly co-working sessions which usually comprises of reserving a large table at a cafe and working on their laptops for several hours. Afterwards they usually go out to a bar nearby for drinks. The woman who posted asked if they didn’t go to local events, meaning non-expat outings, because of the language barrier or if they were having a difficult time with the cultural differences or if the events didn’t interest them. …


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We ended up walking in the same direction

On Fridays I go pick up the older kid of the two brothers I tutor outside of their school. During the week I meet him and his younger brother inside of the school in the courtyard. So today being Friday I waited at my usual spot. By the lamp post. By the bus stop.

The teenagers finish early on Fridays and they’re of course excited for the weekend. Most times I read a book and glance up occasionally to see if I spot M. …


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The thing about that big city that you lived in. That you struggled in. That you made your name in. That is or was so hard for you to leave. It will be fine after you do. And it will change. Not because you left. But that’s what it does. One leaves and so many more arrive.

And after you leave. Your memories of that city are just that. Memories. From the past. And you will choose to hold onto them and think of the current city as being the way you left it. …

About

Hyun Kim 김현

Writer/Editor: Vibe, MTV, Tidal. Marketing/Advertising: Nike, Samsung, The Madbury Club. Former #1 Google image search for bald Asian. Seoul->Ithaca->NYC->VLC

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