A March 9 2021 Facebook meme purportedly shows a fanciful coffee with a cotton candy cloud perched above it — arranged so that the heat from the hot drink created cotton candy “rain”:
Words on the image read:
This coffee is served with a cloud of “cotton candy”, the coffee vapor rises to dissolve the “cotton candy” and the cloud begins to rain sugar over the coffee.
In an additional status update, the poster wrote:
Totally pretentious and absurd. And I want it sooooo much.
However, no additional information about the novel coffee serving method was included alongside the post — which was shared more than 60,000 times in a little over a week.
Text on the coffee cup read “Mellower Coffee.”
In the visual portion of the meme, a small tray held a cup of what appeared to be a cup of hot coffee. To the left of the coffee was an uninvolved plant, and a small stand behind it dangled a white puff of cotton candy over the coffee.
Although the cotton candy was placed above the coffee in the image (and strands “dripped” at the bottom), it did not appear to be actively “raining” sugar into the coffee. No visible indicator of a source for the image (such as a “fun facts” page) was visible, either.
March 2021 Spread of the Meme
In the seven-day period ending March 18 2021, Google Trends suggested that the meme’s spread led to search interest into the cotton candy coffee.
Related searches included:
- “Cotton candy with coffee”;
- “Coffee with cotton candy”;
- “Mellower Coffee locations”;
- “Mellower coffee”;
- “Coffee served with cotton candy,” and;
- “Cotton candy cloud.”
Although the March 9 2021 Facebook post was popular, the image was not new in 2021.
In May 2019, a larger version of what appeared to have been the same photograph was shared to Reddit’s r/pics:
This coffee is served with a cloud of "cotton candy", the coffee vapor rises to dissolve the "cotton candy" and the cloud begins to rain with sugar over the coffee. Coffee "mellow" in Shanghai, China. from pics
Reverse image searches indicated the image shared to Reddit in 2019 was first crawled in January 2015 — making it at least six years old in March 2021. A UK tabloid published an item based on the 2019 Reddit post, identifying the drink as the “Sweet Little Rain coffee” from Mellower Coffee in Singapore.
Older Mentions of ‘Sweet Little Rain’ Coffee
A 2015 Vice.com article about “Chinese Coffee Culture” included a passage about Mellower Coffee’s cotton candy coffee — describing it as “damn good”:
Shanghai’s Mellower Café is the perfect example. Mellower is famous for its Sweet Little Rain – a coffee with a cloud of cotton candy suspended over it. When steam from the coffee hits the cloud, it condenses and rains the eponymous sweetness back down.
As I waited for my own cup, I watched a stream of other cotton candy clouds float off the counter and onto customers’ plates. And when mine finally arrived, the candy floss rained down on my mug rim and hardened—like the coffee equivalent of salt around the rim of a margarita glass. But here’s the kicker: it was damn good coffee. “In Asia, it’s very hard to get regular customers, so we need to make something special,” says general manager Chen King, who sees the Sweet Little Rain—as well as Mellower’s other specialty coffees—as a good point-of-entry for Chinese consumers, who are less accustomed to coffee than their Western counterparts. “They need some time to get used to coffee,” he said. King’s strategy appears to have worked. On the Saturday afternoon of my visit, the café was crowded with friends snapping selfies with their cotton clouds. And according to King, the shop sells 150 Sweet Little Rains per day.
A viral March 2021 Facebook post included a whimsical manner of serving an ubiquitous drink, a cup of coffee with a cloud of cotton candy to “rain” sugar into the mug. That post did not include any information about the origin of the beverage. Since at least 2015, mentions of Mellower Coffee’s “Sweet Little Rain” coffee have popped up here and there. A May 2019 r/pics thread involving the image led to a number of outlets covering the Singapore cafe’s novel serving method. The image does show a real menu item, but it was a promotional drink available at Mellower Coffee’s “more than 50 shops established in China, Singapore and South Korea.”