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Roasting & Representation: Harrisburg coffee shop, local AAPI group partner on Vietnamese

Aug 02, 2023

HAPPI member Ellen Min (front middle), along with other group members and Elementary Coffee Co. owner Andrea Grove (far right) hold bags of "HAAPI Mornings" coffee.

Whether you’re a morning person or not, a Harrisburg coffee shop has a bold new blend to brighten your day.

Elementary Coffee Co. recently released "HAAPI Mornings," a Vietnamese-inspired coffee, in partnership with the Harrisburg Asian American Pacific Islander (HAAPI) group. Elementary introduced the coffee in May, in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

"It's all about visibility and representation," said Ellen Min, a member of HAAPI. "The more representation and visibility, the less we are excluded."

After being inspired by a coffee shop in New York City that offered Asian coffee blends, members of HAAPI wondered if they could help make that happen in their city. The group reached out to Andrea Grove, owner of Elementary, and she jumped at the idea.

Many meetings and tastings later, and the group had a Vietnamese-inspired blend, featuring Indian beans and a dark roast.

After being judged for her Korean cuisine many times during her life and feeling like her culture's foods were excluded from restaurants and businesses, Min was excited about the new coffee.

"Coffee itself is so much richer and more diverse than what is considered classic coffee in the U.S.," Grove said.

HAAPI members taste coffee samples during the "HAAPI Mornings" creation process at Elementary Coffee Co.

The coffee packaging was designed by Harrisburg artist Christina Chang, who illustrated a group of AAPI community members. Many of the faces are actually HAAPI members.

"Now, we are finally seeing us, not as a stereotype, but seeing the fullness of us, on a coffee bag," Min said.

In addition to the coffee, Elementary is offering a special drink menu featuring traditional Vietnamese hot and iced coffee, an Ube Iced Latte and Saigon Iced Coffee.

The coffee and special menu items will be offered through June. A portion of the proceeds will go to support HAAPI's programming.

According to Grove, the response from patrons has been even better than expected.

"Coffee really brings people together, and this coffee is doing that in such an impactful way," she said.

There's a fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation, Min explained. But HAAPI was grateful to Elementary for intentionally and heavily involving their group in the coffee-making process, demonstrating what cultural appreciation can look like when businesses partner with the community.

"It's been so special and has been filling my heart," Grove said. "This is truly HAAPI's coffee."

Elementary Coffee Co. is located at 256 North St., Harrisburg, and inside the Broad Street Market. For more information, visit their website. To learn more about HAAPI, visit their Instagram page.

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June 6, 2023 | by Maddie Gittens

June 6, 2023 | by Lawrance Binda

June 6, 2023 | by Lawrance Binda

June 6, 2023 | by Maddie Gittens

If you like what we do, please support our work. Become a Friend of TheBurg!