Korea's Iced Coffee Pouches Are Nostalgic And Cost-Effective

While there is a never-ending supply of international food options in the U.S., Korean food has grown significantly in popularity in recent years.

There are great Korean barbecue restaurants all over the country, and the spicy, pickled cabbage kimchi has become an everyday item easily found in most American grocery stores. What would have once been considered an exotic food is now common enough to be found on many restaurant menus and unique dishes you can make at home, like Kimchi Ramen.

There's also the Korean tornado swirl omelets that have caused a stir on social media and the fiery bite of gochugaru and gochujang that have joined more traditional American spices.

The latest addition to the pantheon of Korean foods that Americans are obsessed with is Korean iced coffee pouches. There are currently more than 141.4 million views on Tik Tok videos tagged "Korean iced coffee pouch," thanks to this unique and nostalgic take on coffee.

History of coffee in Korea

Coffee isn't a recent introduction to the Korean peninsula, but it seems like most Koreans have always preferred coffee as a quick and convenient drink.

Coffee was first introduced during the Joseon period and began to catch on with the Korean King Gojong around the end of the 19th century. It was often enjoyed by members of the court after dinner and frequently offered to western diplomats as well. However, it wouldn't be until the invention of freeze-dried coffee that it would become popular with most of the population.

In the time after the Korean War, American soldiers introduced the people of South Korea to the instant coffee with which they were supplied. The drink became popular, and in the 1970s, Dong Suh Foods licensed Maxwell House instant coffee for sale in South Korea. This convenient drink helped amplify coffee's presence in the country and soon became a standard option.

While some other ready-to-drink coffee options were served in juice box-like containers, it wasn't until 2005 that the first coffee pouches were introduced.

The success of iced coffee pouches

Korean iced coffee pouches are precisely what they sound like. They're pouches (that will give a lot of people nostalgia for the days of Capri Sun) that contain iced coffee. 

One reason for the drink's popularity is its obvious convenience factor. The popular brand Cantata says its double-dripped coffees are made with 100% arabica beans. This helps them match the ease of instant coffee with a higher-quality brew method. These drinks also come in various styles, mixing coffee with milk and flavored sugars. These drinks are also a common feature in Korean convenience stores which are often open 24 hours. This makes it easy to get a pick-me-up any time of the day.

The other compelling factor is the presentation. The pouches are kept cold in a display case above a freezer of plastic cups filled with ice cubes. The pouches are torn open and poured into the cups giving off a pleasing crack of ice as they do so. This makes them great content for social media videos.

While you might not see a similar setup in your local gas station anytime soon, you can check Korean grocery stores to try them for yourself.