Spreading Joy, One Cup At A Time: 7 Leaves Cafe’s Newton Hoang

a photo of Newton Hoang, the Director & IT of 7 leaves cafe

Excerpts from the Podcast: Spreading Joy, One Cup At A Time: 7 Leaves Cafe’s Newton Hoang

“Thank you for having me. I want to say that I am not unwell. I can actually say that now for sure.”

“I’m a new dad by way of a currently three year old daughter. I had my first child the day that the world shut down, March 15, 2020. And needless to say, that wasn’t in the cards for a pandemic to occur. But me being in my 40s have found a greater meaning and purpose in terms of what happiness means to me, and that’s vicariously through my daughter.”

“I, like many folks in, I guess, quote unquote, my generation have these ideas of where we want to be at certain points in our life. The imagery that I’d like to convey to your listeners is the fact that seldom is point A to point B, a straight line. Mine has gone all over the place like spaghetti. And there was a self realization that I had that I’m okay with not being where I think I should be relative to my overall perception and outlook of what the world is around me.”

“And it never became more apparent when, one, I was given the blessing of a daughter, but then in that very hyper environment of a pandemic, it was very eye opening to me. I know that the pandemic was a very tragic thing abroad and locally here, but it afforded me the ability to be there for my daughter’s first moments of everything. And I’m a serial workaholic in the food and beverage industry, and so seeing those first was something that I just wasn’t really prepared for, to be brutally honest. I heard about them, I read about them, but I never really imagined that I would be around during those times. And like all things, the dopamine hits happen. And I just want to be around for her as much as I possibly can. So that happiness is just a luxury of riches and I just don’t know what to do with it at times because I just break speed laws to get home as quickly as I possibly can just so I could be there, maybe not do that.”

“There’s buz words of like quiet quitting and the great transition or whatever you want to call it, and I unconsciously did that. I changed a work environment for the better by way of just putting myself in an environment here at 7 Leaves where I could be more part of my daughter’s life, which was something that I had so desperately wanted. I think that that’s so cool that you can now kind of reclaim your life and get to have all of those moments. Like you get to celebrate some really amazing things in your work. Then you also get to celebrate these amazing things in your life and her life and your family life. And it’s so important.”

“7 Leaves is a brand, is about eleven years old. Our founders are a family, a band of brothers as I’d call them. And they were also immigrants and many of them also all the brothers had respectable day jobs here in the US. And one day decided to just stop, like literally just stop and say, we need to do something else. And so what birthed out of that was a very unassuming 400 square foot location in Garden Grove, California. And they created beverages that they knew of from the homeland, as you would call it, and respectfully, a lot of Vietnamese cuisine, which is the ethnic background that our founders are, have only fresh ingredients accessible to them. They make a statement by which they do it, like how grandma used to do it.

Here at 7 Leaves, we actually don’t do that. We do things the opposite direction, where we cook everything from its raw estate inside our stores. It’s a very painstaking process by which we steep the tea, shave down taro roots, deep mungdin, and these are not easy things to do. It is not something that you can just pick up in a day. There’s an actual curriculum and coursework that you have to go through to understand the science behind all of it. Because if, heaven forbid, you go over the steeping window, then we have to throw the entire badge out. And so empirically, when the customer takes ahold of our drink, they taste our product. They can tell very quickly there’s something different, that there is nothing in here that tastes like artificial.”

“We don’t, I guess, tell people that you’re drinking real taro, but for those who know, they know. Right. And that’s kind of how we like to keep it .And yes, it does cost us a little bit more to make it, but that is not something we’re going to manipulate or change in a way that erodes the customer experience, because that’s what made us who we are now.”

“And no longer is it just a product that creates loyalty. It’s got to be a business with purpose. And actually, that’s really why I’ve been able to flourish in what it is that I do. Because, respectfully speaking, when I saw on our cup emblazon Gandhi’s statement of be the change that you wish to see in the world, I went, how are you doing that? And our brand in its earliest days did that not as consistently as they’d like, but there was a lot of effort and it wasn’t necessarily strategic .It was just kind of like a matter of things falling into place.”