Sunday, November 6, 2016

Death before decaf.

On the recommendation of a friend, I tried a local brand of coffee.


Did I mention that my friend is a motorcycle enthusiast?

Death Wish Coffee Co. claims that their coffee---which I bought in their Keurig-compliant "Death Cups"---is the world's strongest coffee. They put that on every bag. They've even trademarked the phrase "World's Strongest Coffee."


So...is it?

Well, let's examine the claim. If you take Strongest as a synonym for Boldest when it comes to coffee, there is some evidence to support it. It's a nice dark roast, not too bitter, smooth---but not as bold as espresso, I say. Okay, so you can counter that espresso is not coffee per se, and therefore doesn't count.

It's pretty clear though from the Death Wish Web site that by strength they mean the caffeine content, not the boldness of the roast: "Death Wish Coffee is the world's strongest coffee with the highest-caffeine content available, resulting in a buzz that blows other coffees out of the water." But I'd heard for years that all the heat used to make a dark roast actually results in a smaller amount of caffeine. So how could that claim be true?

Well, I got schooled. No less an authority than Mr. Coffee himself says, "Since roasting a bean for longer brings more oils to the surface, it could be assumed that some caffeine may escape and be burned off in the process. However, caffeine doesn't react too much to any temperature under 600 degrees, according to Scribblers Coffee Co., more than 100 degrees more than coffee's usual roasting temperature." That and other factors make it impossible to say whether a particular coffee has more or less caffeine depending on roast.

The USDA has a database of products' nutrients, such as caffeine, in many common foods, including specific brand-name items, but Death Wish Coffee hasn't made the database yet. (A search for the word "death" pulls up six different ice creams going under the name Death By Chocolate.) So they're no help. Death Wish's site has a lot of information on caffeine's benefits, but nowhere could I find a statement of how much is actually in their product.

I guess at this point we have to take Death Wish's word for it. I can tell you my Death Cups make a very satisfactory cup of coffee, so if you like dark roasts I highly recommend it. However, I tried my first cup while working on a very boring freelance project, and fell asleep right at the laptop anyway. So take that with a grain of salt, or perhaps a ground of coffee.
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