Mr. Brown Iced Coffee

Central Trading Company, 8150 Olive Boulevard, 314-993-4303

Nov 24, 2004 at 4:00 am
Mr. Brown tastes like chocolate doughnuts, which is always an excellent way to start the day. It tastes like Cocoa Pebbles: a totally fraudulent flavor that, nonetheless, is welcome on certain problematic mornings when the impending day looks brown and you seek a Band-Aid against it.

This particular tourniquet is awesome on many levels. It's called Mr. Brown, which closely resembles the Guns 'N Roses lament, "Mr. Brownstone," about heroin. It's an 8.12-ounce Taiwanese coffee drink that comes in a cute can. It contains only four ingredients, in order of prominence: water, coffee, sugar, milk, which is comforting. And best of all, Mr. Brown himself is an excellent mascot, which is important. You don't want some idiot mascot like, say, the Arby's oven mitt recommending your product. You want someone with style and class.

Mr. Brown wears Tom Wolfe's white suit, looks like Dom DeLuise and is, stylistically, a ringer for a Chris Ware drawing (Ware wrote 2002's much-lauded graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth). He mugs for the camera holding a big cup of his juice, and he gives a big thumbs-up aimed at you, the consumer, who are about to partake in an excellent can of coffee. We assume he's supposed to represent a South American plantation owner on the verge of exclaiming, "¡Muy bueno!"

But this sweet iced coffee isn't South American. It's made by a Taiwanese concern called King Car, itself a subsidiary of the Chu Chen Industrial Company, based in Taipei. For what it's worth, it's made at the Chung Li Plant in Taoyuan County, which is the only useful English information supplied at

Alas, drinking anything out of a can so early in the morning is problematic. Our philosophy has always preached mugs as the only true a.m. decanter, along with a pint glass filled with water. Cans are for afternoons and evenings. So it's best to pour Mr. Brown into Mr. Mug. Once you do, you'll find that the fat man is very similar to Starbucks' Frappuccino: sweet to the point of ridiculousness (seventeen grams of sugar in a tiny can!). It hits your tongue and overwhelms the entire mouth with a syrupy thickness the consistency of half-and-half. No, it's not the best thing to put in your mouth before noon, but how can you resist? Brown's staring at you when you open the fridge, the first face of the morning, and he's positively beaming: "¡Buenos dias, muchacho! ¡Bebe arriba!"