If you’ve followed us enough, you’d know that we started this blog out of a passion for bubble tea, but it hasn’t been out of the question for us to venture into other sugary drinks, caffeinated or otherwise. Today we’ll be talking about our experience drinking a product I had been following for a couple years: Copper Cow Coffee.
Their first and best selling product, “The Classic”, is the brainchild of the Vietnamese-American founder, Debbie Wei Mullen. Positioned as “a sweet primer to the wide world of Vietnamese coffee,” The Classic consists of 5 individually wrapped packets of coffee pre-packaged in disposable drip filters and 5 individual packets of condensed milk, and it goes for $15. Their coffee is indeed sourced from sustainable farms of the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and their condensed milk – in good fashion – is made from Californian cow milk and pure sugar cane. Copper Cow Coffee has since their inception added a number of other drink kits, among them Thai tea and rose latte. For all intents and purposes, we’ll only be talking about The Classic.
In 2017, when I first happened upon CCC’s Instagram account, my attention was piqued. Trendy brand name, aesthetics on point (even more so now), and, hipster Vietnamese product? I was intensely curious. A quick browse through their feed and I became apprehensive.
From my memory they had marketed their single-use hanging filter as a novel invention. In fact, similar hanging filters had been used in a number of semi-instant coffee offerings. More notable is that the filter is a very fast drip, while the traditional Vietnamese phin is meant to be tuned to a slow drip which produces a very concentrated coffee.
In some PR material, they’d enthusiastically used the flag emoji of the current state of Vietnam, the same one that most refugees of the Vietnam War oppose. There was a lack of awareness of Vietamese history and politics there, and I question whether the Vietnamese-American community is in CCC’s target market at all. Best to be aware and not make what might seemingly be a small mistake and alienate what’s potentially a large part of the customer base.
All that aside, I finally decided that I wanted to purchase the kit. I purchased through Amazon Prime, which meant that I got the kit within a couple of days. Here are my final impressions:
Aesthetics 10/10: Impeccable! Gold-foiled box encasing black coffee packets and white milk packets. Beautifully designed.
Sustainability 5/10: The coffee and milk itself might be sourced sustainably, but half of the packaging is not. The box is recyclable and the filter compostable, but the coffee and milk packets are made of single-use plastic. This kit is such a convenient way to have coffee for long distance travel or camping trips for that matter – I’m sure my mother will appreciate having some of these in case of emergencies. But, for the company to encourage every day use via subscriptions, I must say, is quite ironic.
Taste (7/10): It exceeded my expectations, I’m impressed! The sweetened condensed milk reminds me of my gold standard, Longevity Brand’s Gold edition. It’s silkier than most, which is a sign that it was made of good, wholesome fresh milk.
The coffee, a robusta & arabica blend, was quite good, given that the filter dripped way too quickly. I followed the instructions on the back to pour 3-4 ounces of hot water, to make Vietnamese-style coffee. Now, 3-4 ounces is typically the amount to use in the traditional brew method, but only because there’s typically enough coffee so that it comes out quite concentrated. If one wanted to drink it hot, the concentration would be dark enough to stand up to some milk, or stand to be diluted with more hot water if they wanted it black. If one wanted it cold, again it can stand to be diluted with some ice. On the contrary, the amount of coffee grind in CCC’s packets wouldn’t be able to take anymore water beyond the 3-4 ounces without starting to taste bland. The full packet of milk overpowered the coffee, but that can easily be reduced – you’d just be stuck with very little liquid. In other words, this product would possibly do well with more coffee grounds per serving.
Cost (5/10): The package of 5 servings costs $15, with .4 ounces of coffee each. Say a higher end coffee is $30/lb, CCC is comparatively $120/lb coffee with complementary milk. The company says that the price can be taken down from $3/serving to $1.75/serving with the subscription, though you will have to make peace with discarding the single-use plastic.
In conclusion, I like the taste of their coffee and milk, and appreciate that they kept some authenticity by using partial robusta beans. I might buy this again for traveling, but since the amount of coffee per serving is on the lighter side, I would rather buy their robusta + arabica whole beans and use a good quality screw down phin for everyday use.