You've probably seen the little bowls of single-serve creamers on a restaurant table. Or maybe you've passed by the big pump bottles of Coffeemate at the office coffee station. You may have even succumbed to using powdered creamer at some point (desperate times, we get it). These creamers are convenient – but have you ever stopped to wonder what's in them? How are they shelf stable? How are they flavoring them?
We knew there was a better option – because our founder Debbie grew up drinking it! See, a traditional Vietnamese coffee is as much about how it's prepared as the origin of the beans. So when we set out to bring super high quality Vietnamese coffee to the United States, we knew we wanted the latte experience to be as authentic as possible. Here's how we transformed a simple concept to create a first-of-its-kind, single serve, shelf stable all-natural coffee creamer.
Modern Rituals Inspired by Authentic Traditions
A traditional Vietnamese coffee starts with Vietnamese coffee beans – typically mostly robusta, which is a high-caffeine coffee with nutty and chocolate notes. It's traditionally brewed using a Phin, which is a slow-dripping pour over method that makes one small, very strong cup at a time.
The final step: mix your strong, espresso-like coffee with a generous amount of sweetened-condensed milk. This latte is almost always served over ice for a cool treat in the hot, tropical Vietnamese weather.
So, when we brought our signature Vietnamese Latte Kits to market, we knew without a doubt, they had to include sweetened-condensed milk for the most authentic, delicious coffee experience. We even took things a step further and created our deliciously decadent Mocha Creamer by adding cocoa powder to the sweetened condensed milk.
Why does Vietnamese coffee use sweetened-condensed milk?
You might be wondering why Vietnamese coffee uses sweetened-condensed milk instead of simply using cream or milk like many other coffee-drinking countries. Well, the answer lies in a bit of Vietnamese history.
France colonized Vietnam for six decades, beginning in the 1880s. In fact, a French priest was the first person to bring a coffee tree to Vietnam! The French were accustomed to sipping their coffee with milk, but like many Asian countries, dairy was not a prominent part of the Vietnamese diet so fresh dairy wasn't easy to come by. Plus, refrigeration was expensive and hard to come by in those days.
Sweetened-condensed milk was the perfect solution. It was canned for a long shelf life, so it could easily make the long voyages from France and other countries in those early days. More importantly, it was the perfect flavor match for strong, nutty robusta coffee in Vietnam. The tradition stuck and became a signature part of what most people think of as Vietnamese coffee today.
Shelf Stable Creamer - No Preservatives Needed
What's in a typical shelf stable coffee creamer?
Most shelf-stable coffee creamers are made with very little actual dairy – and sometimes none at all! The creamy texture typically comes from a mixture of oil, water, and thickening agents. In fact, even refrigerated coffee creamers that do include real milk and cream often also include oils and thickeners! The flavor usually comes from artificial flavoring and sugar or corn syrup. Stabilizers are sometimes added to make sure the mixture doesn't curdle when it hits hot liquids like your cup of coffee.
A new kind of shelf stable creamer
Given the history, our sweetened-condensed milk creamers were a natural fit for a Vietnamese coffee. But they also have lots of practical perks – including the fact that they're shelf stable with no preservatives needed! This means they're a great creamer for on-the-go, camping, traveling, or just busy days.
In fact, sweetened condensed milk was first created by Gail Borden (yep - the Borden dairy guy) while onboard a transatlantic ship when the cows were too stressed and seasick to milk. Borden found a way to stabilize milk for 3 days, which was a pretty big deal for the early 1800s!
Today, sweetened-condensed milk is good for years thanks to the way it's made. Most of the water content is removed from the milk, and a heating process kills the bacteria in milk, while sugar helps to further preserve it. The result is a delicious, shelf-stable creamer with just milk and sugar – no preservatives, no oils, and no artificial flavors. It also happens to taste absolutely delicious in coffee, desserts, or drizzled on your favorite treats.
Ways to Use Our Sweetened Condensed Milk Creamer
Because it doesn't need to be refrigerated and comes in convenient single-serving packets, our all natural Creamers are insanely versatile. Here are a few of our favorite tips and ways to use your Classic or Mocha Creamer.
- Stash it in your desk at work to jazz up a basic cup of office coffee
- Pack it in your bag so you always have a creamer for emergencies (black coffee is an emergency when you like cream). Sometimes we even bring it to the coffee shop to customize our drinks!
- Bring it in your carry-on for airport, in-flight, or hotel coffees that don't totally suck.
- Don't use creamer yourself but sometimes have guests over who prefer cream? You can keep a box of Copper Cow Creamers on hand without worrying about spoilage.
- Take them camping for a camp coffee that will blow your mind! They're also great for a hike or road trip.
- Don't feel limited to drinks – sweetened-condensed milk is delicious on croissants and bread, pancakes, oatmeal, fresh fruit, shaved ice, a chocolate chip cookies (trust) or really any treat that you want to zhush up.
- Too much in the packet for your taste? Once opened, just refrigerate the rest of the Creamer packet for future use.
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