‘We’re Not Here’: What’s Hiding on BRCC’s Latest Vietnam-Related Coffee Bag?

April 30, 2023Katie McCarthy
The latest Black Rifle Coffee Company Exclusive Coffee Subscription bag design features former President Richard Nixon sitting atop a M60-wielding panda and various other Vietnam-related Easter eggs.

The latest Black Rifle Coffee Company Exclusive Coffee Subscription bag design features former President Richard Nixon sitting atop a M60-wielding panda and various other Vietnam-related Easter eggs.

What do Black Rifle Coffee Company, Richard Nixon, and Cambodia have in common? 

Toward the end of the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon infamously said the US was not invading the neutral Southeast Asia country of Cambodia, while at the exact same time ordering the literal invasion of the neutral Southeast Asia country of Cambodia. 

How does coffee fit into the equation? Art.

In 2023, the artwork on three of BRCC’s Exclusive Coffee Subscription roasts features US presidents: Teddy Roosevelt (“Teddy Roastavelt,” January 2023), George Washington (“Beware the Delaware,” February 2023), and debuting in May, Richard Nixon (“We’re Not Here”). 

American infantrymen in the 25th Division run for cover as Viet Cong snipers open fire on them after the men were airlifted into the Fishhook area of Cambodia, northwest of Tay Ninh, South Vietnam on May 11, 1970. AP photo by Rick Merron.

If that seems like an odd trio, you’re not wrong. 

“We had these two cool ones, and then we have one we're kind of going to make fun of,” Jon Griswold, the BRCC illustrator responsible for the designs, said of the presidents featured on the coffee bags.

Hidden in the bag’s design are several nods to Nixon’s policies and controversies, but the discerning ECS subscriber might also notice some familiar characters.

There's more to Black Rifle Coffee Company's May ECS "We're Not Here" bag than meets the eye.

After discussing the design at length with Griswold, we’ve broken down all the fun Easter eggs you can find on the “We’re Not Here” coffee bag:

  • Richard Nixon — in the infamous “V” sign pose — is riding on a panda, a reference to Nixon’s policy of opening diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, which was at the time led by communist president Mao Zedong.
  • The panda is firing an M60 machine gun, which was adopted by the US military in 1957 and was used heavily in the Vietnam War, earning the nickname “The Pig.”
  • The panda is also sporting a MACV-SOG patch on its right shoulder, which references both a BRCC coffee roast and its namesake, the high-speed task force that conducted clandestine missions during the Vietnam War.

President Richard Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover meet in Washington on May 27, 1971, to discuss killings of police officers in New York City and Washington. AP photo by Henry Burroughs.

  • Flying over Nixon’s head are Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters, or Hueys, which were first used for combat operations during the Vietnam War.
  • Moving to the back of the bag, an FBI agent is shown arresting a panda, referencing Nixon’s relationship with the FBI and how he worked with J. Edgar Hoover to identify and arrest communists and communist sympathizers. 
  • Above the G-Man is a cameo by Kalashni Koala (2021 ECS character), who is being pulled out of the jungle with a rope tied to a Huey overhead — another nod to Nixon’s Cold War dealings and anti-communism sentiment, this time with the Soviet Union.
  • The red phone tied around the tree represents the wiretapping and Watergate scandal that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.
  • On a lighter note, the right side of the “We’re Not Here” bag includes a fly fishing net that was featured front and center with Washington on “Beware the Delaware.”

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Katie McCarthy
Katie McCarthy

Katie McCarthy is the managing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Her career in journalism began at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer in 2008, where she learned to navigate the newsroom as a features reporter, copy editor, page designer, and online producer; prior to joining Coffee or Die, she worked for Outdoor Sportsman Group as an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine and their Special Interest Publications division. Katie currently lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.

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