Rise of Death Wish Coffee

Winning a lottery can change your life. That is what Mike Brown, the owner of Death Wish Coffee, found out. Mike won a contest sponsored by Intuit Quick Books to get a free 30 second commercial run during the 2016 Super Bowl. Death Wish is considered to be the world’s strongest coffee. This is because Death Wish uses Robusta coffee beans to double its caffeine content from the usual 217 mg per cup to more than 400 mg. The rise of Death Wish coffee started with its ad during the Super Bowl but the product itself and many spinoffs are popular because of the caffeine content.


Robusta coffee beans are the source of caffeine for many soft drinks and are added to give more or a jolt to Arabica coffee brews.

Robusta coffee is properly named Coffea robusta, or Coffea canephora. This variety of coffee is a more hardy plant than the Arabica variety. It is less prone to infestations of insects or plant disease so it is also cheaper to grow. Originating from plants in the western and central sub-Sahara Robusta yields more coffee beans than an Arabica plant and Robusta coffee beans contain about 2.7% caffeine as opposed to 1.5% for Arabica. The most recent export of Robusta coffee beans has been to Vietnam where coffee farmers produce the second largest volume of coffee in the world after Brazil. About a third of world coffee production is Robusta coffee beans of which the largest part come from the Highlands of Vietnam.

Prior to the rise of Death Wish Coffee the best known use of Robusta has been the addition of about 15% Robusta to Italian espressos for more strength.

Arabica vs Robusta

The Coffee Barrister helps us in understanding the difference between Arabica vs Robusta. One advantage of Robusta is that this strong coffee plant makes it easier to grow organic coffee.

Overall, Robusta coffee is not only attracting customers for economic reasons but also for ecological considerations. Due to its sturdy nature, Robusta can be produced in a more natural and organic manner – which gains favors amongst conservationists.

If that is the case, hurray for Death Wish Coffee for introducing us to more Robusta in our java.

The Rise of Death Wish

So, how is Death Wish doing? CNN Money looks back at the Viking ship on a stormy sea of coffee ad and how now today Death Wish is a household name.

Sure, the brand had a small cult following before, but the ad elevated it to a whole new level. Web traffic skyrocketed to 12,000 visitors a day, double what it had before. Not surprisingly, sales followed.

“We were in seven stores before the win and now we’re in 150,” said Brown. “Last year, we had $6 million in sales, and now we’re already at $10 million. We think we can cross $15 million by the end of the year.”

The company has partnered with producers of other products so that now there are Death Wish coffee-branded vodka, beer and soap. It has not hurt that Americans are drinking more coffee than ever before.

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