death wish coffee

Today’s Silly Thing: Death Wish Coffee

Death Wish coffee is… well, I want to say it’s a scam.

But it’s not really a scam. It’s just that… there’s a trick to it.

Why? What trick?

It’s pursuing a very common formula within the food industry – get a product that used to be cheap or even waste, make a premium item with it, use its weirdness as a selling point.

Death Wish is robusta coffee.

Robusta is the low-land boggo cousin of the coffee we normally drink, Arabica. It’s grown in Vietnam, Brazil and other countries with a decent amount of water and a lack of hills (Arabica generally comes from more specific climates halfway up a mountain somewhere). Robusta has got a good high yield, it’s very bug resistant, and it’s nice and cheap. Instant and bulk coffee is made from Robusta.

And you know how Italian coffee is kind of burnt-tasting and a little bit ‘bitey’? It has added Robusta in the blend.

Oh – and it’s a lot higher in caffeine than your fancy Arabica. How much? About twice as much. 

Which, incidentally, is exactly the same boast this goddamn coffee is using. So, here’s how I think it works.

1. Carefully select a Robusta from a single origin where you know it won’t taste too much like burnt rubber (this is the ‘classic’ taste of Robusta, believe it or not). They vary a bit from place to place.

2. Pay for it. The cost will be half of bulk Arabica, maybe a third to a quarter of fancy Arabica. Laugh devilishly as you save money.

3. Take all the money you saved and spend it on marketing. Put skulls and other such silliness on the packet, claim the coffee is ultra-super brutal by mentioning death on the label, and have ads with Vikings etc. 

4. Laugh as people go “ooh, twice the caffeine!” while not realizing that ALL cheap coffee does, in fact, have twice the caffeine.

You’re being had. Caveat emptor.

By: James Heathers, Ph.D, Angry Person

Scroll to Top