7 Leaves Brings Sustainability to Popular Vietnamese Drinks
by Caroline Aoyagi-Stom, Energized by Edison Editor
As the line of people winds around the building, it looks like a celebrity book signing or the unveiling of a new iPhone. But no, these folks are waiting to try 7 Leaves Cafe's Vietnamese iced coffee or milk tea boba.
In the crowded industry of coffee and tea cafes, this family-owned business has managed to stand out. Using real ingredients and following the traditional way of cooking, they craft each drink from scratch. The result is a cult-like following with 26 stores and growing in California, Texas and Nevada.
And now you can add sustainability as another business strategy in their growing success.
“We are full-electric here without using gas. There is no gas line to this building,” said Denny Ly, one of the seven family members who started 7 Leaves in Little Saigon in 2012, as he walked around the Huntington Beach location.
The cafes have a diverse coffee and tea menu with offerings like Sea Cream Jasmine Tea and Mung Bean Milk Tea. They also sell hand-crafted macarons. The owners have incorporated induction cooking to ensure consistency and efficiency for each drink and its ingredients like boba (tapioca balls) and grass jelly — all made from scratch.
They also like the fact that induction equipment takes up much less room in their small kitchens.
“We care about consistency and induction cookware has been a great help for us,” said Ly. “You pick a temperature and you can hold it so it doesn’t overboil. And the beauty is, it takes up less space.”
7 Leaves first started testing induction cooking equipment a few years ago as a pilot. Today, more than 65% of their stores use the energy-efficient equipment, helping to not only save energy but money too. The Huntington Beach location is fully electric, including its boilers and water heater.
“It’s all part of our culture of care,” said Ly, noting that the family’s upbringing as immigrants from Vietnam influences their drive to create simple and focused menu items. “We put a lot of care in what we do to make the best drinks.”
Joyce Lui, SCE account manager, works directly with Asian American-owned businesses like 7 Leaves. In addition to referring them to rebates and savings on various energy-efficient kitchen equipment, she works with the utility’s Foodservices Technology Center to provide energy audits to help increase savings. This can include switching to energy-saving LED lights or taking advantage of SCE’s Time-of-Use Rates which can help save money depending on the time of day energy is used.
It’s all part of SCE’s support of the state’s clean energy goals as outlined in Pathway 2045. The white paper looks at how statewide decarbonization can be achieved, including the significant electrification of buildings coupled with advanced energy efficiency.
“7 Leaves is definitely supporting the state’s clean energy goals and Edison’s Pathway 2045,” said Lui. “It’s a win-win situation.”
“Sustainability is important to us,” said Ly. “We want to leave this earth better for the next generation.”
VIDEO CREDIT: ROBERTO LAZARTE, JOSEPH FOULK AND ERNESTO SANCHEZ