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Tippi Hedren couldn't make it: Coffee culture enters the US in the 1970s

Hendryk

Nothing ever ends
Published by SLP
Location
France
In the mid-1970s, actress Tippi Hedren was doing volunteer work for the humanitarian NGO Food For The Hungry, and got to visit a Vietnamese refugee camp in order to check which marketable skills could be taught to the women in order to help their integration in US society (imagine refugees being seen as an economic asset rather than a security threat!). Unexpectedly, the women she spoke to were fascinated by her polished fingernails and requested to be taught how to do manicure. Hedren arranged for her personal manicurist to provide the training, and long story short, most nail salons in the US are now managed by Vietnamese people.

But what if due to some mishap, Hedren hadn't been able to visit the camp? What marketable skill might the Vietnamese refugee women have defaulted on? @Sijie Liang over on FB gave a brilliant answer: coffee. Indeed, a legacy of French colonialism is that the Vietnamese have taken to drinking coffee, and they prepare it in a number of flavorsome ways. So in a TL where Vietnamese nail salons aren't a thing, one may instead have seen Vietnamese coffee shops open in California in the 1970s and then take the rest of the country by storm, probably preempting the rise of Starbucks and its derivatives.

Instead of a venti latte, your urbanite on the go would order a ca phe sua da or a ca phe trung.

 

Francisco Cojuanco

Well-known member
Location
Arizona
I think for economic reasons what you might get is that Vietnamese coffee and coffee culture in general becomes a regional, West Coast affair.

Remember that similar pressures made it so that most independent donut shops in California are Cambodian-run. While they are wildly successful, they've mostly been a regional phenomenon.

If this preempts Schulz and Starbucks (as it probably will) coffee will probably remain a regional affair, with fewer chains, certainly no more than a chain dominating each metro area.

It's also likely to retain its more, not exactly blue collar, but more class-mixed image as a drink. Starbucks (and to a lesser extent coffee not done Americano) for better or worse is seen as the drink of the young urban elite, though this is getting to be less so. If the West Coast coffee craze depends mostly on Vietnamese-American indies or small local chains, good coffee generally will be seen as a more working-class drink, something workers drink on late shifts to stay up.
 

Alex Richards

Did Macavity the Mystery Cat commit Warcrimes?
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
It's also likely to retain its more, not exactly blue collar, but more class-mixed image as a drink. Starbucks (and to a lesser extent coffee not done Americano) for better or worse is seen as the drink of the young urban elite, though this is getting to be less so. If the West Coast coffee craze depends mostly on Vietnamese-American indies or small local chains, good coffee generally will be seen as a more working-class drink, something workers drink on late shifts to stay up.
Interestingly enough this might actually be one way it actually spreads- there seems to be a lot more potential overlap there with American Diners in terms of trends in coffee drinking.

So we might not see coffee shops opening in all but the larger metropolises, but what we could see is Diners struggling to compete with their neighbours deciding to try selling 'Californian' style coffee as well as the normal stuff.
 

Francisco Cojuanco

Well-known member
Location
Arizona
Interestingly enough this might actually be one way it actually spreads- there seems to be a lot more potential overlap there with American Diners in terms of trends in coffee drinking.

So we might not see coffee shops opening in all but the larger metropolises, but what we could see is Diners struggling to compete with their neighbours deciding to try selling 'Californian' style coffee as well as the normal stuff.
Vietnamese style coffee is also IME stronger than the American stuff, which might lend to some cachet with blue collar types. Same amount of the stuff with twice the kick.
 
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