Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mr. Brown

Mr. Brown
Originally uploaded by afader.
I first encountered Mr. Brown on a poster on the GWU campus advertising "hometown snack foods" to homesick Asian students. It was an early lesson that more brand names exist beyond what's known to typical American suburbia.

I found Mr. Brown's coffee again when exploring the Asian grocery stores of northern Virginia. Each can of Mr. Brown contained the following helpful information: "EXPIRY DATE: TWO YEARS." There was no other date or year information on the can. I found this quite droll.

Now I'm in Mr. Brown's homeland. Not only is his coffee available in every convenience store, but he has a chain of coffee shops. Starbucks is extremely common in Taipei (and considerably cheaper than in Korea) but local coffee shop brands like Mr. Brown, Dante Coffee and Ikari Coffee are all more than just Starbucks clones. They all offer a selection of hot Western or fusion-style meals, which sometimes seem to have just been warmed in a microwave oven but are still surprisingly good. There's a Mr. Brown coffee shop directly across the street from the office where I teach twice a week, which is nice and convenient.

No, the coffee there doesn't taste like it came out of a can.

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