Copper Cow Coffee
Portable Vietnamese-Pour Over Coffee
Review and photos by Hailey Hirst
Morning coffee is a ritual, a routine. We crave that caffeine kick and the comfort of a cup to begin a day or energize an afternoon. It seems natural that we want to take that habit with us when we venture outdoors.
As Anna Brones said in her interview about Best Served Wild, food just tastes better when you’re in a beautiful landscape.
We think the same goes for coffee. But the perfect cup of camp coffee is a source of endless debate. From cowboy coffee brewed with the grounds right in, to tea-bag style coffee packs and instant coffee, we’re not short on options.
When Copper Cow Coffee approached us with their portable pour-over Vietnamese coffee, we jumped on the opportunity to try it.
We took some on a trail in Banff National Park last week and then had another couple cups on an Oahu beach at sunrise. It’s not just for backpacking – we loved getting outside early and having this stashed in my pack along with a trusty Hydroflask full of hot water.
- Their pop-up pour-over design is easy and intuitive to use. The packs have illustrated instructions on the back, but even without referencing that it’s clear what to do.
- It’s strong coffee fast. I actually watered mine down a little to taste. And for those who like a weaker brew, you could probably use one pour-over for two cups.
- Sweetened condensed milk is a staple ingredient in Vietnamese coffee, but from the ‘camp coffee’ perspective, the milk + sugar portables’ use of California sweetened condensed milk is a genius solution to the milk and sugar transport challenge. I’ve popped creamer cups in pockets before, and powdered milk doesn’t always cut it on taste. These are perfect.
- The company is a minority and woman-owned U.S. operation. We love that. We support that.
- You can’t control sugar/milk ratio. My husband doesn’t always take sugar in his coffee, but with these it’s all or nothing. If you like sweet coffee this isn’t a con and the strength of the coffee balances the sweet in my book – but it’s something to be aware of if you’re sweet-sensitive.
- The packaging is extra waste to pack out. Although we’re looking to convenience more than anything, we’re conscious of the waste we create – especially when we’re practicing Leave No Trace. The used filter expands to be larger and heavier, and somewhat soggy to pack. Most of the trash would be compostable (or burnable if you’re camping where fires are allowed) but the main paper pouch is metallized and the milk sugar pack is plastic.
- It’s expensive, relatively. It’s no Starbucks, but for a brew-your-own, it’s definitely not the cheap option for camp coffee. Copper Cow is $3 per cup if you get a 5-pack. (For comparison, Starbucks via instant is a comparable $2.95 per cup, but regular brewed coffee at home averages 23¢ per cup).
It’s delicious coffee. I already bought another box and plan to gift some to my outdoorsy relatives this Christmas. The experience of making pour-over coffee that tastes good and can be enjoyed at places like a beach at sunrise or camp in the backcountry, is worth a little bit more cost and pack weight sometimes. It’s a total luxury to have in the wild.
Coffee is a lot about the experience of it anyway. After all, in the words of Nichole Johnson, “Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid. It’s a trumpet wake-up call or a gentle rousing hand on your shoulder… Coffee is an experience, an offer, a rite of passage, a good excuse to get together.”
Copper Cow Coffee is a strong and sweet coffee experience that we’ll be thrilled to take with us into the outdoors again, and it was a good excuse for us to get outside before (and because of) our morning coffee this week.
Copper Cow Coffee is a woman and minority-owned and operated company founded in 2016 by Vietnamese-Californian Debbie Mullin. Debbie brings the highest quality and equitably sourced Vietnamese coffee to the US through her passion for food and her previous experience working for World Bank in sustainable development. Her Portable Pour Over technology and single serving of California sweetened condensed milk make brewing a fresh cup of specialty coffee easy anywhere – no additional equipment necessary.
Editor’s Note: Hailey was given the coffee for free by Copper Cow for review. These are her true and unbiased thoughts on the coffee.
Where would you take this camp coffee?
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