2020 Death Wish Coffee Company Buyers Guide
The Death Wish coffee company shot to fame with claims of having the world’s strongest coffee, a rock and roll image and a creative and charismatic founder. But can a company whose rock and roll marketing, including partnerships with heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde and the Celtic Punk band, Dropkick Murphy, also make great coffee?
The company coffees are proprietary blends. They offer two different labels; Death Wish Coffee is a dark roast and Valhalla Java is a medium roast blend. Both are USDA-certified organic and USDA Certified and Fair Trade. Both are very good, and they have a flexible system that allows you to place single orders or subscribe to a subscription service at a discount. They also offer an outstanding canned cold brew and K-Cup compatible pod offering as well.
Death Wish coffee review
Get a Good Grinder and Buy Whole Bean Coffee
Both are rated “Strong Buys” but definitely check out the Death Wish Cold Brew cans.
Our Death Wish coffee review is going to focus on the quality and taste of their signature blend. If it matters to you then read about the world’s strongest coffee claim lower on the page.
Death Wish Coffee and Valhalla Java are the company’s signature blends. Both are USDA-certified organic and can bought through most of the same locations. Both add caffeine while still delivering great taste through their blending of different coffees.
Two Great Coffees
Death Wish coffee is a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans “sourced from India and Peru.” Most likely the Arabica is Indian, and the Robusta is Peruvian. Arabica and Robusta are the two most popular types of coffee in the world and you have drunk it more times that you can count.
Arabica originated in Ethiopia and when it went to “Arabia” the human love affair with coffee was born. Arabica is by far the most popular kind of coffee worldwide and is a majority of all coffee produced. Arabica is what most people think of when they think of coffee. It is sweet with nutty and slightly fruity undertones and hints of chocolate and caramel. It is moderately acidic and has the right level of bitterness for most people.
Robusta Adds Oomph
Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea Canephora plant. Robusta coffee has more caffeine and is generally less pleasing than Arabica. It is also less sweet and more bitter. Most people recognize peanutty.
Blending Arabica and Robusta is very popular. Many coffees and most espresso is a mix of these two. Blending them would be a good way to increase the caffeine level of a coffee while maintaining a pleasant and familiar flavor that would appeal to a lot of people. Adding Robusta to your Arabica is a way to lower the overall cost since Arabica costs more.
The blend is very good. It has a nice sweet flavor with enough fruity undertones to be enjoyable. The acidity level is just about right. I tried a few coarseness levels and brewing methods. I prefer French Roast over my pour over because I like the additional oils and solid materials that come from it. But the Death Wish coffee blend is a good mix and works well with either brew method or drip. It should also be fine as an espresso brew.
Valhalla Java was created in a collaboration between Death Wish Coffee founders, Mike Brown and the heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde. Wylde is perhaps best known for playing with Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. Valhalla Java is a medium-dark roast, proprietary blend mainly sourced from Honduras, Guatemala, Sumatra, Peru, and India.
I think this works better as a medium roast. I liked it a lot. Valhalla Java had a little less noticeable nutty tones and more earthy flavors. I liked the acidity level and it has just the right amount of bite to it. This is a very good cup of coffee.
Valhalla Java has the better aroma as well. I used a household conical burr grinder and ground it slightly finer than I would normally. I tried a few different extraction times. Increasing the extraction time didn’t improve the flavor of Valhalla Java very much but it also didn’t get particularly bitter.
My Valhalla Java review awards it a “Strong Buy” recommendation. I didn’t notice a difference in my response to the caffeine either. Then again, I (try to) limit myself to two large, strong mugs a day. I don’t think it is just marketing to say that you shouldn’t drink a pot of Valhalla Java a day.
Death Wish Coffee Caffeine Content
Honestly, even after trying their coffee and researching the issues, I have no idea how much caffeine is in Death Wish coffee. I am not going dispute their claim that their coffee is high in caffeine.
Honestly, it’s an inconsequential argument to me. But, considering they built a company primarily around the claim that their coffee is the “strongest coffee in the world, “Death Wish coffee is very cagey about the actual caffeine content of their coffee.
The basis of their claim is that Deathwish coffee caffeine is twice that of any other coffee, but I couldn’t find any citations for that claim. The coffee is good and if that marketing motivates some people to feel that their coffee is makes them tougher or something then that’s fine.
I didn’t reach out to Death Wish Coffee Company to clarify this because, I don’t think is a world of coronavirus lockdowns it really matters that much if they really have the world’s strongest coffee.
Death Wish Caffeine Probably Depends
How much caffeine in Death Wish coffee will depend a lot on how you make it, as with any coffee. Death Wish claims that its coffee has double the caffeine of an average cup of coffee, but that it also does not taste bitter or acidic. Presumably that rate would hold up across different types of brewing.
But there are some pretty hefty claims being made out there. Death Wish doesn’t want to make dramatic and specific claims themselves, so they link to a Huffington Post article by an unnamed contributor (not a paid staff journalist). That post included the article and infographic on caffeine content you see below.
When Death Wish coffee published it on their own site, they took the numbers off. I don’t know why they edited it, but one guess is that they didn’t want the FTC or some lawyer taking issue with them for any of the claims. I have no resources to confirm or deny these claims either. On the HuffPo article, the Death Wish caffeine content claim stems from an article about the “most dangerous” caffeine products on a coffee blog.
Approximate Caffeine by Brewing Method vs Death Wish Coffee*
- Red Bull 56mg (6 ounces)
- Shot of espresso 64 mg (1 ounce)
- Drip or Filter 87-131mg (6 ounces)
- French press 60-81mg (6 ounces)
- Lattes & Cappuccinos are typically two shots of espresso so call it about 128mg
- Death Wish Coffee Cold Brew 300mg (8 ounce can)
- Claims made about Death Wish Coffee 352mg (6 ounces)
So, the claims that seem to be made by others about Death Wish coffee is dramatically higher than the 200% number on their website. Interestingly, their instructions for making your coffee is a very high coffee to water ratio. A common ratio is 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water. On their website, Death Wish Coffee advises 2.5 tablespoons of grinds per every 6 ounces of water. Stronger coffee tends to mean higher caffeine. So, following this recipe a pound of Death Wish Coffee will make 20% to 60% less coffee than other coffee instructions and would also lead to stronger coffee than a ration of 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Death Wish Coffee Company
Death Wish Coffee Company was founded on 2012. Mike Brown founded Death Wish in Saratoga Springs in New York but their headquartered moved to Ballston Spa. Death Wish coffee company moved production to Round Lake, New York. Th company’s main claim to fame is the claim that it offers the “world’s strongest coffee.”
I’ve never met Mike, but I’ve always been impressed with his company’s marketing. Starting a coffee label is super hard. There is a lot of great coffee out there and (grumble, grumble) too few people who really care about quality. So, anything that helps you stand out is good and the market has plenty brands chasing the NPR-listening coffee gourmet so why not try rock and roll?
Brown was named the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Emerging Business in New York in 2017 and was also named a “40 Under 40” by the Albany Business Review in 2018.
Where to buy Death Wish coffee
Death Wish Coffee Co sells mainly online, especially on Amazon and their own website. This is a common go-to-market strategy for a new brand that doesn’t have gigantic marketing dollars. It can be hard and really expensive to break into retail and get shelf space.
Buying on Amazon makes the most sense. The selection is good the pricing is great and you get Prime benefits as well. The Guarantee still applies as well.
The Death Wish coffee Walmart sells seems to be priced well also. So that is a good alternative to Amazon. You can also buy in a grocery store, if you are not quarantined at the time of writing. According to Wikipedia, Hannaford, Price Chopper, Healthy Living Market, ShopRite, Safeway, and Walmart and many others carry their products.
Death Wish coffee discount codes
We are on the lookout for a Death Wish coffee coupon. There are some on their site as well and will publish any coupons and coffee discount codes we see. Please check our coffee coupon page for the latest coupons and discount codes on coffee and coffee services.
Death Wish guarantee
I am a little confused about their warranty. A page on their site I accessed called “Why Death Wish?” says “We have a 100% ‘No BS’ 365-day guarantee. If Death Wish is not the strongest coffee you’ve ever had, we’ll gladly give you a refund, just tell us what was stronger!” Elsewhere on the site it mentions “60-day money back guarantee, no questions asked if this is not the strongest coffee you’ve ever had.”
Don’t let my apparent confusion dissuade you. A pound of coffee is maybe a months’ worth of daily coffee so if you haven’t decided long before 60 days then I don’t know what you are waiting for.
Deathwish coffee Superbowl Commercial
In 2015 Death Wish Coffee gained publicity when it was selected by Intuit QuickBooks as their “Small Business, Big Game” company of the year. This earned the little coffee company a FREE Super Bowl commercial. And it was epic…
Death Wish Coffee in Space
More awesome marketing. On July 2nd, 2018 the Dragon Capsule docked with the International Space Station. Among other payload, it carried some freeze-dried Death Wish coffee. The capsule was launched into space by the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket a few days earlier.
In 2019 the company partnered with iLEAD and space-based educational company, DreamUp to test whether black coffee kills a particular bacterium found in teeth plaque in micro-gravity like it does on Earth. Very cool.
*note: I don’t stand by any number or claim made here. I have no way to verify any caffeine content of any of these products or brew methods. I got them all from publicly available sources and merely share them to show the confusion around caffeine content