Chamberlain Coffee: From YouTube influencer to RTD Coffee Start-Up

Friday, 2 February, 2024

By Ayanda Dlamini 

Coffee has seemingly woven itself into the fabric of my identity. It’s become a defining element of who I am. I’m immersed in coffee daily – not only as a writer of coffee stories, but also, working in a coffee roastery everyday. An aspect of this that I value the most is that my friends and family make it a point to include me whenever coffee enters the scene.

A friend of mine recently came back from visiting the USA and bought me a gift she said made her think of me. Yes, the gift was coffee, but it wasn’t just any coffee. It was Chamberlain Coffee. She traveled all the way with two flavours from their new Ready To Drink (RTD) collection

This made me very happy! I have amazing friends, right? I’m a fan of Emma and her work. Some background for those that aren’t aware of who and what Chamberlain coffee is: Chamberlain Coffee is a coffee company rooted in the vision of YouTube sensation Emma Chamberlain. 

To me, Emma has been a virtual companion throughout various chapters of my life. Without this sounding like a love story, in a few ways Chamberlain and I share a common journey as young women, navigating the complexities of the industry after falling in love with coffee. So I guess it is a story about love!

Chamberlain Coffee, of which she is the founder, is a flavourful, youthful and colourful extension of her distinctive personality, a representation of her passion for all things brewed, and really a documentation of her beverage evolution. 

The introduction of her new ready-to-drink collection, sparked a whirlwind of attention. Social media blew up with a range of reviews. The world was divided between those who passionately disliked the product, and others who couldn't get enough. This mixed bag of opinions added an intriguing layer to the product's narrative, and for people like me, it sparked curiosity - on which side of opinion would I fall? 

The RTD coffee market is HUGE around the world, in Seoul and Tokyo there are vending machines stocked solely with various brands and flavours of RTD coffee. It's quite crazy!

The Chamberlain Coffee ready-to-drink cans comes in an array of flavours too: Vanilla Latte, Mocha Latte, Cold Brew Latte and Cinnamon Bun Latte. An interesting characteristic about these drinks is that, all of them are plant based, completely natural, without any artificial preservatives. 

So how good could it actually be? 

Well, having been gifted 2 cans, I’m here to give my honest review:

Acknowledging the perspectives around Chamberlain's canned coffee, I see this canned coffee belonging to a specific niche of coffee drinkers. For those who love cold coffee with a subtle and balanced sweetness, especially the alternative milk enthusiasts and flavoured latte lovers, it seems to strike the right chord. Her choice of natural ingredients and sweeteners, preserves the level of quality and maintains a freshness to it. Over ice, the coffee is most enjoyable. 

On the flip side, I found myself concerned about elaborate flavours. It has the potential to dilute the essence of coffee. Aroma was another aspect that felt diluted in a form of a can, the hiss of escaping air feels satisfying and appealing but, the intensity of the typical fresh coffee smell is weakened. 

Having said that, in the grand scheme, I see this new release as a smart and creative concept. It’s creating an impression by prioritising quality ingredients, whilst also being convenient and visually appealing. In retrospect, the mixed bag of reviews is a good thing, influencing more and more people’s curiosity and desire to try the coffee. 

This exposure to RTD coffee (not that common in South Africa where I am based) and experience with one of the creators I look up to, is one that I’m grateful for. Having watched Chamberlain’s journey from content creator to coffee entrepreneur is an important narrative for young people. Seeing other young people doing impactful things sparks inspiration and aspirations. A beautiful demonstration of the evolving landscape in world coffee.

If you liked this article, then you may also like these:

Got something to say? Then leave a comment!