31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Apr 17, 2022 / 14:09

Unique café where customers order by hand

The café, a special home for more than 30 people with disabilities, is creating products that win the heart of both domestic and international customers.

Even though customers’ orders cannot be heard, they are taken. Without uttering a word, the waiter bowed his head slightly, put his hand over his mouth, and then extended his arms as an expression of thanks to the clients for having drinks at Kymviet café.

That is the job Nguyen Tuyen has done during the past six years at the cafe. When customers arrived, he quickly brought out tea and showed them a menu written in sign language.

“I work in the cafe with deaf Colleagues. I often make fruits mix, smoothies, and coffee. I am lucky and happy to be able to work with the deaf people community at Kymviet. I always look forward to keeping my job in the cafe,” Tuyen told The Hanoi Times in sign language.

Nguyen Tuyen, an employee of the cafe, is talking with a customer in sign language. Photo: Le Giang

“Instead of ordering drinks through speech, customers at the cafe in the Kymviet coffee chain communicate with the staff through the sign language and pictures printed on the menu. I always consider Kymviet my second home, which has allowed me to work and communicate with the community,” Tuyen added.

Some customers even try to communicate with the waiters using sign language. Tuyen said he feels happy about that and always thanks them with bright smiling eyes as he wears a face mask.

A common home for the deaf

Kymviet coffee chain currently has three cafeterias in the capital city of Hanoi. The special home of more than 30 people with disabilities is creating products that conquer domestic and international customers.

Not only the drinks, what sets this café apart from others is the decoration and the experience of communicating with the staff.

At each table, there is a button that lights up to let the staff know that the customer needs assistance. In addition, there are signs of “Thank you”, “Hello” and so on in sign language to help customers easily communicate with waiters.

Special menu with exquisite design. Photo: Kymviet Space

Tuyen and many other employees call this place “home” instead of a workplace. Here, they have friends with the same conditions who are bartenders, and desk workers, among others. Outside of work, they cook and eat lunch together, and those far from home get the support to rent a home.

Tuyen shared that he was born deaf and unable to attend normal schools. After finishing 9th grade, Tuyen dropped school to help his parents with farming. Six years ago, on the recommendation of a friend in the deaf community, he applied for a job in Kymviet. Tuyen was trained to prepare drinks and greet customers, work he never thought he would do.

“My most memorable experience was when I received praise from customers for delicious drinks. I feel very happy about that since the praise is the recognition that I can do a good job like the others,” Tuyen said.

Not only Tuyen, but most of the staff at the shop have also left school and started working early. Nguyen Thi Dinh, the manager, said that it has been more than eight years since the days she joined the company.

“For example, in the past when they worked with people who could hear and speak normally, deaf people's hardships were not often shared and they are assigned heavy work. Working in the cafe, they often confide that they are happy and satisfied with their current job,” Dinh told The Hanoi Times.

 A barista training session at Kymviet. Photo: Kymviet Space

Ha Thi Mai Hoa, an employee who has been with Kymviet for seven years, shared: "Going back to work after a long time at home because of Covid-19, we are all very excited. Kymviet is like a big family, where everyone shares their love, sadness, and joy. I hope to be able to work here until I grow old."

As for Nguyen Thi Hang (born in 2002, in her hometown of Vietnam's northern province of Hoa Binh), happiness also comes from the compliments and encouragement from customers, making the girl feel that a person born deaf like her can still do all kinds of work just like everyone else.

Products speak more than words

As a regular customer, Le Thi Thu Trang, a resident in Hai Ba Trung District of Hanoi said that although having to travel a long distance from home to the cafe, she often chooses this place as a workspace because of its humanity and special things it brings.

“When I come to the cafe, I like its space and its fresh drinks. The first time you communicate with the staff at the Kimviet, you will find it a bit difficult to understand, because they use sign language, but once you get used to it, it's quite good, because they are very agile. Besides, Kimviet is not too busy and crowded like other cafes,” Trang said.

She shared with The Hanoi Times that her first impression when coming to Kymviet is the airy and quiet space. “The cafe is run by people with disabilities, but it doesn’t have a heavy sense of charity like many other places. The staff here seduce me with thoughtful drinks which look like they want to cherish customers” Trang added.

 A menu with exquisite design. Photo: Kymviet Space

The first time he came to the cafe, Mai Nhat Minh, a third-year student at Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities also felt the same way. “I especially love the humanity in the cafe, and will introduce it to my friends,” Minh said.

People choose services at the cafe because they are worth their money, not because of compassion towards the people with disabilities Pham Viet Hoai, a 49-year-old CEO of Kymviet Joint Stock Company.

Paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the age of seven, he understands that disabled people always lack confidence and feel sorry for themselves as well as the difficulties and obstacles they face when working and studying.

"Kymviet's ultimate goal is always to create a working environment for the community of people with disabilities, where they and the community of normal people understand each other better. The cafe has changed the people’s perspectives on those with disabilities," Hoai told The Hanoi Times.

Pham Viet Hoai, CEO of Kymviet Joint Stock Company. Photo: Le Giang

Currently, in Vietnam, there are more than two million hearing-impaired. This is a potential workforce whose only barrier is communication. However, it can also be easily removed if there are supporting means.

“The cafe chain like Kymviet is both a place for the community of deaf people to have the opportunity to study and work, creating good values ​​​​for society. It is a place for them to connect with the community of ordinary people,” Hoai stressed.

In 2013, Hoai wished to make a small contribution to changing the community’s perception about the people with disabilities, that they are not a burden to society. “We are people with disabilities, but we should not let our products be disabled products,” Hoai said about his motto.

Since 2020, Kymviet has welcomed more and more visitors to drink coffee, buy souvenirs, and combine tours to visit Van Phuc silk village in Hanoi's outskirt district of Ha Dong.

“Although this model was built amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it has still been well received and shown potential for sustainable development. Some schools have offered to link up, while parents bring their children here to learn how to familiarize themselves with sign language. When tourism recovers, Kymviet is ready to connect with Hanoi discovery and experience tours,” Hoai added.