My first encounter with real coconut milk involved neither can nor can opener.
Though my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I have traveled to many places where coconut milk features in the local food, it wasn't until we stayed at Kathleen's house, in the Afro-Caribbean community of Arima, Trinidad, that I learned how to make, and cook with, coconut milk. Kathleen made everything from scratch in her tiny kitchen, including smashing coconuts with a hammer on the ground outside the front door, and pressing the meat to extract the milk.
Hairy brown coconuts don't grow on trees here in Rhode Island, but many markets do sell them. Still, making coconut milk is a bit labor-intensive, so I keep a few cans in the pantry.
Don't tell Kathleen.