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Vietnamese-inspired coffee brand raises $2mn from five funds

Released at: 14:18, 07/12/2018

Vietnamese-inspired coffee brand raises $2mn from five funds

Photo: Copper Cow Coffee

Copper Cow Coffee closes $2 million funding round.

by Phi Linh

Vietnamese-inspired coffee brand Copper Cow Coffee announced the closing of a $2 million round of funding on December 4.

The round was led by Silverton Partners, which contributed half of the capital, with CRCM Ventures, Montage Ventures, AmplifyHer Ventures, and Social Starts also taking part, according to food-focused industry source NOSH.

Copper Cow previously raised $1 million from friends and family, angel investors, and its participation in the 500 Startups accelerator program. The 18-month-old company has seen rapid growth, reaching 3,000 stores since its inception in 2016.

Founder and CEO Debbie Wei Mullin said that the capital is necessary to scale the brand’s e-commerce and office sales. As a result of this focus, Ms. Mullin said she chose to seek investment from firms with strong backgrounds in e-commerce and technology rather than traditional CPG venture groups.

Copper Cow’s core SKUs - a Vietnamese coffee kit, available with or without condensed milk - both involve a single use, biodegradable pour-over filter that is prefilled with sustainably sourced Vietnamese coffee. The brand also produces a Thai iced tea kit in partnership with Tea Drops.

Ms. Mullin said the brand’s coffee aims to deliver consumers the convenience and portability of instant coffee with a superior taste and on-trend pour-over experience. Additionally, she added, Copper Cow’s light weight gives the brand an advantage in e-commerce over ready-to-drink options, which naturally incur higher shipping costs.

She also plans to explore coffee subscriptions for offices. Two of the brand’s largest clients include tech companies Lyft and Masterclass. For these customers, the company offers a $125 “brew station” containing 50 Vietnamese coffee pour-over filters and 50 sweetened condensed milk packets packaged in a display tray.

“Office coffee is actually half of the US coffee market,” Ms. Mullin said. “I also know that my core buyers - under 35-year-old specialty coffee drinkers - are going to prefer to buy things online. They are also going to want an omnichannel experience, but overall they are going to want to spend more of their dollars online rather than in-store or other channels.”

She expects online and office sales to outpace those in traditional retail channels over the next year.

That’s not to say that retail is not a focus for the brand, as it has added roughly 1,000 stores every six months. Ms. Mullin said that increased consumer interest in Asian-American brands and pour-over coffee has created an environment where Copper Cow’s unique offering is eagerly accepted by buyers.

The brand’s popularity with two core segments of shoppers - specialty coffee drinkers and Asian-American consumers - has provided access to retailers ranging from Williams-Sonoma and Cost Plus World Market to Walmart, with the latter adding Copper Cow to its “Asian” grocery set in over 1,000 stores since September.

“Asian-Americans are one of the fastest-growing income demographics in the US and have the highest growth in terms of consumption power,” Ms. Mullin said. “So, people shopping in the Asian section are either going to be an Asian-American, who for Walmart shoppers are going to have a higher price point that they are willing to spend, as well as what I’ll call ‘Asian enthusiasts’, who tend to be widely traveled and more savvy about the quality of ingredients and are willing to spend more for a better quality product.”

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