The Workshop is one of Saigon’s favorite destinations for coffee enthusiasts. The shop is located on the corner of Ngo Duc Ke and Dong Khoi street in the heart of Saigon’s District 1. The Workshop is always full of customers because of its airy space, unique design with dark wooden stairs leading to the top level space, and polished concrete floor.
In collaboration with local coffee roasting startup building.coffee, The Workshop is known for serving some of the city’s highest quality roasts. So what’s the story behind their coffee production know-how? Vietcetera meets with The Workshop’s Quynh Tran, the venue manager, to discuss how his team operates and produces some of the best coffee in the Saigon.
What makes The Workshop an institution for local coffee-goers and foreign visitors in Saigon?
The Workshop is a combination of the location, it’s in the heart of the city in a beautiful colonial building. It has a concept that is simple, industrial, yet modern. The staff and customers also support the speciality coffee movement. Last, but not least, the high quality coffee beans roasted by building.coffee. Transparency and consistency are what we’re all about to maintain our standard.
For the baristas that work at The Workshop, what makes them a Workshop barista?
Not only skillful hands, but also passion for coffee, discipline and professional attitude are also required. Our bar counter is placed in the middle of the store, so baristas are always in the spotlight. They don’t just brew the coffee but deliver a performance as a link. They are the bridge for customers to understand and appreciate coffee through taking care of every detail of all the drinks we serve.
How has working with your roaster, building.coffee, helped support your business?
Building.coffee has helped us take the thinking and operations out of the back office and allowed us to focus more on the customer and service. The quality of our products is maintained much better while stored in a designated storage with building.coffee. I’m very pleased with that. All in all, building’s ability to roast specific blends for us and deliver them on a daily basis has helped our business grow.
How has bringing production out of the shop lowered labor cost for roasting and production?
Since working with building.coffee, the store has reduced the the cost of roasting our beans and other related employment costs. In addition, the Tet bonus we pay out as a 13-month salary is no longer a cost to the company as we don’t employ anyone full-time to manage this process. We trust our partners at building.coffee to manage this process for us. By working with a partner like building.coffee, it helps us manage the number of annual bonuses we need to give out to our employees.
By removing the roaster and in turn being able to add more seats, how many more customers has Workshop been able to serve? Or, if not a direct increase in customer seating, how has the freed-up space helped the business?
Firstly, it’s good to have some more space as we could use that for our customers and other activities. It also allows us to keep the coffee bar fully focused on operation only for our customers. One of the other benefits has been reducing the exhaust and smell of the roasting, helping to bring a more comfortable environment for our guests. At the end of the day, it’s nice to not have to worry about roasting logistics and coffee bean storage. Surely, I rest my mind a lot, knowing the beans are in good care with building.coffee.