If your morning jolt of coffee isn't jolting you enough, the folks from Death Wish Coffee are here to help. Off-putting name aside, the company claims to have "found a coffee bean with close to 200% the amount of caffeine as your typical coffee shop coffee."
Death Wish Coffee's website is perhaps predictably adorned with the image of a skull and crossbones and comes with a pointed warning:
Disclaimer: This is not your regular morning coffee. This is not your store bought coffee. You will not find this coffee at your local diner or at your sissy Starbucks. Death Wish Coffee is the most highly caffeinated premium dark roast organic coffee in the world. This is Extreme Coffee, not for the weak. Consider yourself warned.
The company doesn't go into details as to how the bean was found -- or why no one has discovered it until now -- but the website explains that the darker a bean is roasted, the more caffeine is pulled from it. That's why lighter roasts tend to contain more caffeine, and darker roasts less. The owners went on a mission to find the best of both worlds: a dark roast that packs a heavy dose of caffeine.
Regardless of skepticism, at least some people are taking note of the product, including Mallory Winstead for The Dropp. Winstead wrote about her drinking experience on the site, which despite low expectations was positive. And she didn't die, thankfully:
The fullness of the liquid was the first thing to hit my tongue. It was deep, rich and seemed to have layers of intensity. Since it was on ice, a cold rush of complex notes (almost nutty tasting) smoothly slid down my throat, waking me up instantly. The consistency seemed to be creamy even though it was completely unadulterated.
By some standards, Death Wish Coffee is a bit pricey at $19.99 a pound. Compare that to Folger's Classic Roast, which goes for roughly $6.50 a pound or Starbucks' house blend, which goes for $11.95 a pound. It's not so bad, however, when considered against artisanal roasts like Intelligentsia's Java Nica roast, which goes for $20 for 12 oz.
We suppose it would be worth forking over that cash if it really did contain twice as much caffeine as normal roasts. Before committing, skeptics might first want to consider the company's 2 oz. sample size.
Coffee By Design
Sixteen years ago <a href="http://www.coffeebydesign.com/" style="font-size: 17px; font-weight: bold; " target="_blank">Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear</a> opened this tiny coffee shop in Portland, Maine with the idea of building a place for the community. Over the years, the shop has grown from their original Congress Street location to three other shops and a micro roaster where they process all their beans. But despite their mini-expansion, the independent store remains homey and popular for Mainers as they continue to serve the community one cup of Fore Street coffee at a time. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/best-barbecue-restaurants-in-10-us.html" target="_blank">The Best BBQ Restaurants in 10 U.S. Cities</a>]</strong>
<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/cafe-el-beit/344929228819" target="_blank"></a>The name El Beit means "home" in Arabic, and that's precisely the vibe this Brooklyn café exudes. The shop opened in early 2008 and since then has served a constant flow of killer coffee made with the ubiquitous Clover machine or with a French press. The beans come from 49th Parallel, a roaster in Vancouver, but all the pastries they serve are made locally at their sister store. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/10-surprisingly-awesome-strip-mall.html" target="_blank">10 Surprisingly Awesome Strip Mall Restaurants</a>]
Seattle has always held the reputation of being the coffee king, so picking one of their numerous cafes wasn't easy. <a href="http://www.espressovivace.com/" target="_blank">Espresso Vivace</a> was chosen for its rich history in the Seattle scene, and for their rich Northern Italian espresso. Since 1988, owners David Schomer and Geneva Sullivan have made the art of espresso their life and have delved into roasting, pulling, preparing, pouring and grinding for the perfect shot. Each of their three locations remain unique too, one is a sidewalk bar, another a European style café and the third a more modern coffee shop featuring a cool design. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/craziest-thing-ive-ever-eaten-epic.html" target="_blank">The Craziest Thing I've Even Eaten: Epic Tales of Bizarre Meals</a>]</strong>
Firestorm Cafe And Books
Coffee shops have often been associated with poets, activists, college students and any artistic type looking for a caffeinated connection. And, given that the <a href="http://www.firestormcafe.com/" target="_blank">patron saint of Firestorm </a>is writer and feminist Voltairine de Cleyre, this stereotype fits perfectly with this café in Asheville, NC, and not in a bad way. The cafe opened in 2005 with the goal to be worker-owned, and for the past six years, they have achieved that goal while also using Counter Culture Coffee to make a mean cup of joe. <strong>Also see: <a href="http://www.zagat.com/buzz/8-things-you-can-do-to-make-your-server-hate-you-0" target="_blank">8 Things You Can Do To Make Your Server Hate You</a></strong>
The artistic aura that Austin puts out has been drawing people in for decades and, like any good, creative-minded person, they need caffeine. <a href="http://flipnotics.com/" target="_blank">At Flipnotics</a> they get that and for the past 19 years this quirky café has served the needs of musicians and artists with cups of steaming Fair Trade organic coffee and by hosting live bands. Also, while the shop remains laid back, that doesn't mean the baristas are lazy, in fact, the coffee mavens here make some of the best lattes and cappuccinos out West. <strong>Also see: <a href="http://www.zagat.com/buzz/the-10-most-annoying-restaurant-trends" target="_blank">The 10 Most Annoying Restaurant Trends</a></strong>
As independent coffee shops started closing up in Denver after the corporate coffee boom, <a href="http://www.pabloscoffee.com/" target="_blank">Pablos has remained strong</a> since 1995. Owner Craig Conner first catered to the theater crowd at his original location next to the Denver Performing Arts Center. Now the shop has moved and taken root in the historic Alamo Placita neighborhood and not only serves up quality cappuccinos, lattes and café solo, but they roast their own beans daily. Aside from keeping the community caffeinated, they also host an annual pancake brunch extravaganza for their customers. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/10-high-end-bbq-spots-around-us.html" target="_blank">10 High-End BBQ Spots From Around the U.S.</a>]
<a href="http://www.philzcoffee.com/" target="_blank">Owner Phil Jaber </a>has been researching coffee for almost 35 years, and nothing shows off his aptitude for the bean more than his system of "by the cup" brewing he does at Philz in San Francisco. First, you pick your beans from a detailed list that includes options like the medium-blend Philharmonic or the dark-roasted Jacob's Wonderbar. Then they grind and set it to drip. For the past eight years this has been the drill, and though they have added a few more locations, it's still a personalized and true coffee shop experience, right down to the worn out couches and strategically placed laptops littering the joint. <strong>Also see: <a href="http://www.zagat.com/buzz/the-six-hottest-coffee-trends-happening-right-now" target="_blank">The Six Hottest Coffee Trends Happening Right Now</a></strong>
Customers flock to this <a href="http://www.facebook.com/PressCoffeeBarDYT" target="_blank">Dayton, Ohio coffee shop </a>for a number of reasons: One, they hire skilled baristas to make outstanding drinks; two, the beans they use change constantly to keep things fresh; and three, they don't cater to the masses with silly drinks like the frappuccino (because really, that's not coffee). They use beans mainly from Counter Culture and newcomer Dogwood, and the shop sports numerous plugs for those hard at work freelancers, and of course, they also hang local art on the walls. All of this adding up to the perfect indy coffee shop. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/04/cheap-eats-5-crazy-restaurant.html" target="_blank">Cheap Eats: 5 Crazy Restaurant Promotions</a>]
They had us with their<a href="http://ristrettoroasters.com/" target="_blank">Beaumont blend espresso</a>, which gets described as a "deep dark chocolate and ripe berry" blend. Yum. But it's not just their beans that make this Portland spot jump out, it's the pure love and joy owner Din Johnson put into his shop. Johnson first got into roasting coffee in 2000 in his home. That hobby grew until he needed an actual store to house the roaster, so, in 2005 he created his coffee shop by hand, picking out everything that gives it the clean, cozy vibe. Though they have two locations now, Johnson can be seen entombed in the glass-walled roasting chamber at his original shop.<strong> <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/cheap-eats-10-high-end-chefs-go-low-end.html" target="_blank">Cheap Eats: </a><a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/05/cheap-eats-10-high-end-chefs-go-low-end.html" target="_blank">10 High-End Chefs Go Low-End</a>]
It appears that most great coffee shops have started roasting their own beans and this rings true for this <a href="http://www.starloungecoffee.com/" target="_blank">Chicago hot spot</a>. In 2008 they started firing up their DarkMatter [sic] brew to sell in the quaint shop and quickly fanfare followed. Not only that, but by sourcing independent purveyors, Star Lounge also makes a huge effort to support small businesses like their own, giving customers another reason besides the drinks to feel warm and fuzzy. <strong>[Also see: <a href="http://blog.zagat.com/2012/06/8-wackiest-bbq-commercials.html" target="_blank">The 8 Wackiest BBQ Commercials</a>]</strong>