For those of you constantly on the lookout for something to get you moving in the morning, you’ve probably come across Death Wish Coffee before. But, as with every product primarily sold online, how do you know if it works?
That’s what we’re here for. We decided to try out and review Death Wish Coffee for you, so you can decide for yourself if you want to buy it.
Spoiler alert: You probably will.
About the Company
Death Wish Coffee Company was founded by Mike Brown in 2012. It started as a coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, New York. After landing on their signature blend of beans and a specialized roast, they moved to share their concoction with the world.
Death Wish primarily gets their beans from India and Peru. However, they are unique in the fact that they constantly sample beans from various areas to account for climate shifts that affect the strength of the coffee.
Caffeine content is largely a result of the type of bean used, rather than anything that happens during roasting. However, Death Wish does credit their signature roasting process as well. The process itself is a secret though, so there isn’t much information to confirm that.
It is more likely that their roasting affects the consistency of their product and the intensity of their flavor more than the caffeine kick you get. But, it is important to note that dark roasts have a little bit more caffeine by weight (not by volume) than light roasts, which likely accounts for why the brewing instructions tell you to use a pretty hefty 2 tablespoons per 6 oz of water.
While sustainability doesn’t tell you much about the flavor of the coffee, it does have a lot to say about the moral quality of the company. Death Wish coffee is a certified Fair Trade product and they’ve even dedicated a page of their website to informing people why they chose to source their beans this way.
For more on what exactly that means as far as technicalities go, check out this article. But essentially, it means that there are some safeguards in place to ensure that farmers are being paid fair wages, child and forced labor are prohibited, and there’s growth of quality, sustainable products from small farmers.
Both the box and the bag include clearly marked “sell by” dates. However, there were no clearly marked roast dates to be found. For less reputable companies, this could indicate that your grounds or beans aren’t very fresh. Thankfully, this does not seem to be an issue with Death Wish.
The coffee we received tasted fresh and didn’t have any questionable aftertastes. So it gets our seal of approval in this category, though it would be nice to include some extra information on the packaging.
If you’re concerned about freshness, you do have the option of buying in whole bean rather than pre-ground. Just make sure you have a grinder.
What’s in the box?
Death Wish is a dark roast coffee, which adds to the intensity but not the caffeine content of the brew. The caffeine comes from the selection of beans described above.
In addition to the coffee itself, Death Wish sends a sticker to accompany their product. The sticker is well made with a gloss finish and depicts the same logo printed onto their bags.
The Important Part
In our opinion, the best way to brew Death Wish is with a manual brewing tool, such as a French press or an Aeropress. That way, you can increase and still control the brewing time with considerable precision, and you can fine-tune the process as needed. However, you can also try drip brewing, cold brews, and more to find what works best for you.
We tried it with both French- and AeroPress and got similar results, though the French press brew did seem to bring out the flavor and general character of the roast better than the Aeropress.
When trying this coffee, our main concern was that the flavor would be underwhelming. However, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that it was tasty enough to drink without any sweetener. The coffee tasted fresh and rich without the excessive bitterness of other high-caffeine alternatives.
While the taste wasn’t especially delicate or intricate, but it did have the characteristic boldness of most dark roasts with just a slight inoffensive, Salt in Coffee: Seasoned Advice or Bland Platitude?. It paired well with brown sugar and almond milk, and it was strong enough in flavor to stand up to those additions without being completely overpowered.
Death Wish Coffee has about the same caffeine per fluid oz as espresso; however, the serving size is much larger, meaning you get about 4.5 times more caffeine from the 12 oz. cup than you would from a 2 oz. espresso.
As avid coffee drinkers, the couple of us that tried Death Wish were a little skeptical that we’d feel more than an increased heartbeat and a harder mid-day crash. To say this coffee exceeded expectations would be an understatement.
The best part about the buzz? There wasn’t a crash. We were able to continue to go about our 12-2 o’clock duties without having to reach for a second or third cup to keep things going.
Should you try it?
- Great, long-lasting caffeine kick
- Sustainably sourced and certified Fair Trade
- Not very bitter with a strong, bold flavor
If you’re looking to end your never-ending search for a great caffeinated wake-up call, then Death Wish Coffee is definitely worth trying. Plus, if you find you really enjoy it, you can get a subscription. That way, you’ll always have fresh, deliciously caffeinated coffee on hand.
The biggest pro for this coffee can also be its most notable con: the caffeine content. Like we mentioned earlier, drinking a typical 12 oz cup of this coffee is the caffeine equivalent to drinking several shots of espresso.
Caffeine affects everyone differently, so if you’re already drinking your dirty chais with several shots of espresso in them, then this drink probably won’t bother you. But for those of you who find yourselves with the jitters after your typical, run-of-the-mill java, proceed with caution. Upping your typical caffeine intake can cause nervousness, irritability, or an irregular heartbeat.
Additionally, for those suffering from insomnia or anxiety, caffeine can increase some symptoms or have more intense side effects. However, that is not the case for everyone. So, take note of how you typically react to caffeine and act accordingly, or speak to your doctor.
If you’re not sold on Death Wish, there are some other highly caffeinated alternatives to check out. Here are 3 of our favorites:
Kicking Horse Coffee: Kick Ass Dark Roast
Kicking Horse is another sustainable, fair trade option. The Kick Ass roast is their strongest roast at “Extreme Bold” and has tasting notes including chocolate malt, molasses, and other earthy flavors.
Biohazard boasts being the “strongest coffee on earth” and has more mg of caffeine per 12 oz cup than even Death Wish. However, they use only Robusta beans (Death Wish uses a combination of Robusta and Arabica). So while there’s more caffeine, there is some trade-off in the flavor department.
What About Valhalla Java Odinforce?
Valhalla Java is another coffee offering from Death Wish, created in a partnership with guitarist Zakk Wylde (former guitarist for Ozzy Ozbourne and founder of the heavy metal band, Black Label Society). Perfect for those who adore the taste of Death Wish coffee but need it ever so slightly toned down in the caffeine department, this might be the perfect alternative.
How could we ignore the obvious delight of having a coffee marketed as the product of Norse mythology? From the name and shiny gold and black packaging to the sheer beauty of the design, this is one product that’s honestly hard to ignore or forget. Plus, it comes with a sticker to match the impressive packaging.
According to Death Wish Coffee Co., their goal in creating this blend was to “focus on a balanced palette with strength and a smooth finish.” The result is a truly craft blend, it includes three different medium and dark roasts made from coffee grown in the volcanic soils of Indonesia, as well as the rich soils of Central and South America.
The flavor is dominated primarily by toasted, nutty notes, so the it’s pretty mellow and the aroma is pleasant. You may also detect hints of chocolate and molasses. Overall, the brew is really smooth, with the impressive lack of bitterness characteristic of Death Wish Coffee.
While we mentioned that Valhalla isn’t quite as intense as Death Wish, it’s still a far cry from subtle on the caffeine front. There is still plenty of it to get you up and going in the morning and still might be a bit much for people who are particularly sensitive to its effects.
However, it is worth noting that this coffee, like Death Wish, does seem to. cause less of the negative side effects characteristic to high-caffeine products. Most people don’t report feeling any nausea or jitters after drinking Valhalla Java.
If you were afraid that the new partnership meant there would be some compromise on the sustainability front, there’s no need to worry. Valhalla Java has the same Fair Trade and USDA Organic certifications as its classic counterpart.
If your heart can handle it, we definitely recommend trying Death Wish Coffee. Whether you’re looking for something sustainably sourced or just looking for an intense caffeine kick, this blend has you covered. Plus, you’ll get a rad sticker!
So if you want to give it a shot, you can find it on Amazon: