Words by Cami Bessey

If you are a die-hard foodie, a lover of the hustle and bustle, and are always seeking culture, adventure, and inspiration, Ho Chi Minh is for you. As a lover of big cities, this was a new level of “big” for me.

The City

The first morning as we walked to breakfast, I was amazed that there weren’t accidents every step I took. There were bikes, motorcycles, cars, and rickshaw going every which way. Miraculously, the Vietnamese live in organized chaos and no one gets hurt. By the end of our trip I felt safe crossing the streets and it felt more like an entertaining video game rather than life and death. 

The Food

Let’s talk food. My dad is cook and my mom is a baker so I have been very fortunate to grow up around delicious eats, which has turned me into quite the food snob. One of my favorite things about traveling is the food: trying something new, and tasting the culture. But in some places the menus aren’t that appetizing and even I have to take a step back. Luckily, Vietnam is not one of those places.

Everywhere you look (and sniff!) something new, fresh, and delicious is right in front you. Ho Chi Minh is street food central! I was missing the fresh mango coconut cream smoothies the minute we left for the airport. If you’re not into food on-the-go, you can still check out some incredible, moody, sit-down restaurants. Head on over to Anan Saigon, which means “eat, eat” in Vietnamese. The owner, Peter Cuong Franklin, created this gem in 2017 after living and cooking all over the world. As soon as I walked in I was welcomed warmly and offered a seat at the bar while I waited for my husband. Peter and I chatted and he told me his story.

Peter was born in Vietnam and came back to his roots and created this Vietnamese fusion hot spot. He believes in being creative and innovative while still staying grounded in tradition. Every dish is a beautiful work of art and full of flavor and texture! The white fish noodle bowl and creme brule is worth the plane ride alone! 11 out of 10! We went twice during our six-day stay. (I think that says A LOT!)

Coalatree's Connection

Now you can wipe the drool off your face, and let’s talk business. Ho Chi Minh is the home of the Evolution Coffee Grounds Hoodie, and our cut-and-sew factory is located right outside of downtown. My first thoughts when visiting the factory are people, people, people. From the moment we got in the car to the home made lunch, to the Evolution Hoodie production line, every single person had a smile on their face. They radiated a kindness I will never forget. They were happy, genuine, and content. There were laughs and smiles going around and everyone was having fun. And as we all know, work isn’t work when you’re having fun. It was incredible to see them using their talents to leave a footprint on your product—watching the magic come together piece by piece. And the cherry on top, looking over to see big-name brands like the The North Face products being made on the next line over. We have always looked up to them and the strides they are making in the business.

After pulling your hoodies off the line and checking the quality control, we headed under the fluorescent lights to talk business. The exciting news is Coalatree will continue to do a lot of work with Singtex and in Ho Chi Minh to continue to create products out of recycled coffee grounds and plastic bottles. After all, we are eco-minded over here and we couldn’t have found a more perfect fit. The days ended with dinner with Amanda and Vincent, our connections at Singtex. They are both based out of Taiwan and came all this way to ensure our trip was worthwhile. After business was done, we enjoyed delicious dinners, long chats about the importance of family, and enjoyed a foot massage and hot Lotus tea. 

We felt our experience in Ho Chi Minh was too magical not to share. We hope you enjoy the footage of your Evolution Coffee Grounds Hoodie being made as much as we do. Thanks for being a part of our journey and we hope to be a part of yours!

 

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