When ideating menu items for our Cafes, I am continually inspired by the flavors present throughout my life.
As a child, my mother and grandmother began every morning with Vietnamese coffee or Cafe Sua Da. Drinking it was a family experience, with cups poured over crushed ice for everyone to enjoy together.
Through my early adult life, Cafe Sua Da was the only type of coffee I was familiar with. I loved the taste of a bold brew sweetened with creamy condensed milk and wanted to share the feeling with our customers. With the help of my mother-in-law, Mary Chau, I was able to create an original recipe for Vietnamese Cafe Sua Da. This item is now one of our top-selling menu items.
Another drink inspired by our culture is Nuoc Mat, or Wintermelon Artichoke Iced Tea -- a light, refreshing beverage. This drink is influenced by Vietnamese elders who hold high praise for detox through natural, herbal teas.
My upbringing in Houston, TX, a melting pot for diversity, introduced me to cultures and tastes beyond Vietnam. Growing up in the Alief area of Houston, Texas, I was introduced to Latin spices by friends and neighbors. I quickly became a fan of the sweet and spicy taste, carrying a bottle of Lucas candy to indulge in everywhere I went. Our Cha-Series was created in honor of countless childhood trips to the neighborhood market to pick up tamarind, Lucas, and chili candy.
So, what does it take for us to create a new item at Magic Cup Cafe? To start, we typically receive requests from our loyal customers to bring a specific item or flavor to the menu. The push from our customers to create their favorite drinks keeps us motivated to bring new products to the table. Otherwise, I continue to pull from both Vietnamese and Houston influences to bring fresh flavors to the menu.
From start to finish, the creation process for a new drink takes 2-3 months. During this time, we generate the idea, source ingredients, create the recipe, conduct taste tests, and polish the method before rollout.
After several tests and variations in creating a recipe, we conduct an internal taste test with all Magic Cup Cafe employees to gather feedback. Because we have a diverse team and staff, we can hear thoughts from people with varying palettes and profiles. The drink recipe is then modified accordingly.
After the final touches, we offer the new item in-stores as a seasonal product to test the local market and customer reception. If the drink is a hit, we either bring it back as an annual product or introduce it as a permanent menu item.
Upcoming drink releases include our Nuoc Sam - Pandan Sweet Tea, which was tested at our Richardson location this past Fall. With great reception from our local customers, we look forward to offering the drink as a refreshing seasonal item in Spring 2020.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
My Lynn Nguyen is the co-founder and CEO of Magic Cup Cafe, a family-owned business founded in 2015. My Lynn created a place for people to gather and enjoy magic moments with each other over a selection of high-quality beverages in a fast-casual setting. The Magic Cup Cafe concept offers a new spin on the traditional Taiwanese bubble tea shops. In addition to classic Taiwanese bubble tea flavors, Magic Cup serves unique drinks influenced by My Lynn’s Vietnamese-American upbringing and childhood memories. My Lynn and her co-founders are continually working to bring innovative tastes to their customers. They have also created a franchise program for entrepreneurial-minded people interested in operating their own Magic Cup Cafe.