The “Buzz” On Death Wish Coffee
If you hadn’t already known about Death Wish Coffee, you probably did after the Super Bowl. The winner of a contest sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks, this small company scored a 30-second commercial during the third quarter of the big game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos.
People who don’t feel quite human until they’ve had their morning java will likely perk up when they hear the ad’s tag line:
Death Wish Coffee. Fiercely caffeinated.
But this brew may be too much for some people to handle. The company bills its coffee as the “world’s strongest,” and credits the blend of beans and the roasting process it uses for the coffee’s caffeine content, which is 59 milligrams per fluid ounce. A typical cup of coffee has 12 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce.
The consensus from the latest studies is that moderate amounts of caffeine don’t raise the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, or other ills. But the key word here is moderation.
According to the recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 400 milligrams of caffeine a day can be part of a healthy diet for most adults. That’s two to four eight-ounce cups of most coffees. The Food and Drug Administration says 600 milligrams a day is too much. An eight-ounce cup of Death Wish has 472 milligrams. And for many people a “cup” of coffee ranges from 12 to 20 ounces.
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Should you try it?
“People should be aware of the effects of getting too much caffeine. It varies from individual to individual, but consuming more than your normal amount could make you feel nervous, anxious, irritable, or jittery, and may cause excessive urine production or irregular heartbeat,” says caffeine researcher Maggie Sweeney, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at the behavioral pharmacology research unit in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That could be the case even for people used to caffeine. And for those who have anxiety or insomnia, it could worsen their symptoms.”
How do you like your coffee?
Neal Benowitz, M.D., professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco, notes that there’s a difference between getting 400 milligrams of caffeine a day and consuming that amount or more in one sitting. “With drugs that affect mood or behavior such as caffeine, the faster the rise in the drug level in the body, the more intense the response. Consuming that much caffeine or more in a single dose may produce an intense effect. That’s concerning for someone who isn’t a regular coffee drinker, and even someone who is will get a big jolt.”
Death Wish also uses “strongest” to refer to the coffee’s flavor, which the company describes as “strong,” “intense,” and “never bitter.” To find out how accurate that is, 10 staffers from our food lab did a small tasting.
We ordered Death Wish ground coffee ($19.99 per pound, plus shipping) from the company’s website and brewed the coffee according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Without knowing which brand of coffee they were sipping, the staffers did two rounds of tasting of Death Wish.
“Overall our tasters found Death Wish to be strong and bold, but somewhat bitter,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a Consumer Reports’ dietitian who led the tasting. “It’s fairly similar to some of the other dark roast coffees we’ve tasted in our previous tests.”
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