Death Wish Coffee

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Death Wish Coffee
Coffee Company
Founded Saratoga Springs, New York 2008
Founder Mike Brown
Headquarters Round Lake, New York
Number of locations
1 store
Brands Death Wish Coffee, Barrel Brand, Valhalla Java
Owner Mike Brown
Number of employees
12 employees
Slogan "World's Strongest Coffee"

Death Wish Coffee is an American coffee company and distributor. The company was created in the 2000s in Saratoga Springs, New York by Mike Brown. First incorporated as Saratoga Coffee Drinkers, the company eventually changed its name to Death Wish in 2012 and moved to Round Lake, New York. The company won Intuit's "Small Business, Big Game" contest, which awarded a free television commercial aired during Super Bowl 50.

History of the company[edit]

Founding the company

Mike Brown quit his job as an accountant and opened up a coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, New York in 2008. The coffee shop experienced initial economic downfall due to menu inconsistency and the learning curve of creating and starting a new business. This required Brown to sell his house and move into his mother’s home at the age of 30 in order to maintain payments for the shop. In order to make an extra profit, Brown began selling coffee with high caffeine content after customers continually asked him for his strongest cup of coffee.[1]

While running his business, Brown manipulated coffee brews to try to find a solution for what he bills as the "strongest coffee" in the basement of his coffee shop. Brown got samples from several importers and began to create his own blend. This blend contained both Robusta and Arabica beans — Robusta beans having double the caffeine of Arabica. He renamed his company from Saratoga Drinkers to Death Wish Coffee in 2012 and moved his company into a small warehouse where he had only six employees and himself to run the company.[citation needed]

Brown got the idea of the skull and cross-bone logo and the name "Death Wish" after his girlfriend bought him a souvenir which had a picture of a mean dog saying "Death Wish" under it. Brown originally created this brand in hopes of “making ends meet” by making a profit of $5,000 extra a year selling it online. Death Wish reinvested initial profits back into the business, operating out of coffee shop’s basement for the first half of the year in 2012, and then later moved it into a warehouse.[citation needed]

Expansion after Super Bowl Commercial

After the 2016 Super Bowl commercial aired, the company's demand for more product distribution grew so Brown doubled his staff of six employees. Gross income increased to $6 million in 2015-2016.[citation needed]

At the beginning, the company only sold the product in their store but as the company has expanded Mike Brown, the owner of the company, expanded to selling the coffee grounds in different stores such as Target and was able to allow consumers all over to consume the high caffeinated coffee by creating a tab on his website to allow them to purchase his products online.[citation needed]


Super Bowl Commercial

On Sunday, February 7, 2016, Death Wish Coffee Coffee Company aired a commercial during Super Bowl 50.[2] This coveted commercial spot was awarded to Death Wish after the company won the Small Business Big Game contest powered by Intuit Quickbooks, an accounting software company. The Small Business Big Game contest is held each year by Intuit Quickbooks. Small businesses can create a profile to enter the contest, win votes on the website, and complete activities set by Intuit Quickbooks. This is one of the ways Intuit Quickbook helps small businesses advertise among big corporations and other more known businesses.

Super Bowl 50 received 114.4 million viewers, thus making it the third most watched television production in America’s history.[2] This 30 second ad spot cost around $5 million and was produced by RPA Advertising Agency. RPA produced 3 other advertisements in Super Bowl 50. Other companies that were in competition for the top prize include Chubbies, a clothing company specializing in very short shorts, and Vidler’s 5 & 10, a mom and pop shop located in New York state (and which coincidentally carries Death Wish Coffee as one of its products).[3][4]

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Brown said that a creative marketing agency called RPA pitched him three ideas and he went with the Viking-themed commercial. "I love the strength of the Vikings, and it wasn’t the typical coffee commercial." The Vikings once again portrayed the coffee as being strong and fierce.[1] The 30 second video advertisement starts off with a scene on a Viking war ship. The coxswain is shouting words of encouragement and motivation as they row through a very heavy storm. The ship comes to a cliff and as the crew begins to fall off the edge, the viewer sees that the waterfall’s source is a cup of coffee and actually goes directly into a man’s mouth. The ad ends with a bearded man taking a sip from his mug and giving a brief smile with a deep, manly voice narrating “Death Wish Coffee, Fiercely Caffeinated”.[2]

The ad spot has been wildly successful for Death Wish. According to Spot Trender, a commercial analytics firm, sixty four percent of people said that they enjoyed the ad, and eighty seven percent said they would remember it.[5] Over fifty percent said they were likely to buy the product. The results of the ad were almost instantaneous. According to Death Wish’s CEO, Mike Brown, the company received 150,000 hits on their website as soon as it aired. It was two of the top ten under the Movers and Shakers category. In 24 hours, sale’s increased 550% percent.[5] The day after, Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee was the number one best-seller in the Grocery & Gourmet category on Even five weeks later, the company was seeing tremendous attention as revenues were still an impressive five times higher than before the ad was shown. Brown can only sleep four to five hours a night in order to keep up with the amount of orders his company needs to fill. As of February 2016, Death Wish Coffee is still reaping the benefits from the ad. More Amazon data shows that Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee is number 34 on the bestseller list under Grocery and gourmet category, and number 18 in the coffee and tea category. Death Wish has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 82 percent of customers ranking it a 5 stars.[5]

Advertising the Product

Death Wish Coffee’s advertising strategy has changed dramatically since the Super Bowl spot. Since the Super Bowl ad spot, Death Wish has not needed to advertise as business has grown substantially. Before the contest, Mike Brown relied on free marketing as much as possible. In an interview with Forbes Magazine , Brown said that “We’ve sent the product to news reporters, celebrities, bloggers. Ninety-nine percent of the time I don’t hear anything back. But when people wrote reviews about it, we’d see a bump in sales. We also do Facebook ads and Google advertising. Facebook ads work better than Google ads. We get charged about a dollar every time someone clicks on our ad.”

In 2013, the NBC show “Good Morning America” opened up their show by drinking Death Wish Coffee and even went as far as to go up to Brown’s initial shop in Saratoga Springs, New York. After that brief exposure, Death Wish’s customer base doubled.

Marketing Analysis of Social Media

Currently on Death Wish’s website, there are links to all their social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. There is a spot to enter a customer's email address to sign them up for a newsletter that contains exclusive deals, new product releases, and contests. Also on their website, many different types of merchandise are available. From T-shirts, to coffee cups, to coffee supplies, to patches, and many different types of apparel are for sale by the company.On Death Wish's twitter and Facebook account, they advertise by using memes which are usually a humorous image, video, or piece of text that is copied with slight variations that are used to describe a moment in time and is sent around the internet word. This form of advertisement is popular within the millennial generation. Unlike other coffee companies, Death Wish makes a joke about their advertisement creating memes to explain the love they have for coffee. Each tweet they hashtag their company's name and some tweets include a hyperlink to their company's official web page. On their Facebook page there is a tab that includes the company's motto, phone number, address, email address, and a link to their website.

Marketing Strategy of the company

The marketing strategy that Death Wish Coffee is currently implementing is called “Disruptive Marketing”. Disruptive marketing can be defined as “reshaping an existing product or service to meet the demand of customers unsatisfied by the current offering”. The current coffee industry is very saturated and not very welcoming to new start ups, such as Death Wish, but not a single big coffee retailer marketed their coffee solely for its strength. Death Wish took this opening and sold their entire blend behind their slogan the “World’s Strongest Coffee.”[citation needed]

Coffee Brands[edit]

Death Wish

A bag of Death Wish Coffee produced in 2016

Introduced in 2012, the coffee brand was created using both Robusta and Arabica beans. The brand bills itself as the "strongest coffee" in the world. In a 12-ounce cup of coffee, there is an average of 650.4 milligrams of caffeine per serving. The coffee has four times the amount of caffeine than the average energy drink and one cup of Death Wish equals two cups of other brands of coffee. With this being said the company added a very large warning on the back of the coffee bag explaining that this bag of coffee is not like your normal coffee as it contains 6 times the average caffeine per cup of coffee. Customers have the option to buy a one-pound, two pound, or five pound bag of the product. There is also an option to have the coffee be in bean form or ground form.[6]

Barrel Brand

Introduced in 2014, Deathwish’s Barrel Brand coffee, which is infused with whiskey, rye, rum, and wine, is a product that the company offers to appeal to those “with a sophisticated palate whom are coffee/ spirit connoisseurs”.[7] To create this product, the company uses oak barrels from a local distillery to create their specialty craft coffee, which the company feels will revolutionize the coffee industry just as craft beer did decades ago. While initially offered in very limited quantities, a high demand for this product has allowed the company to recently begin increasing the amount in which they produce.[8]

Valhalla Java

Valhalla Java is another product that the company offers and it is a blend of medium and dark roasts. The coffee beans that are used for the Valhalla Java brand was found in the volcanic soils of Indonesia and soils from Central and South America. The coffee is blend of medium and dark roast and has a combination of nutty, chocolate, and sweet flavor. Zak Wylde, former guitarist for Ozzy Osborne and founder of Black Label Society, endorses this brand of coffee within the Death Wish Coffee company.[6]


Death Wish comes in different bundles which allow customers to purchase different products. With this being said, Death Wish Coffee eventually created and started to sell K Cups, which are individual size servings that fit within the Keurig machine. Customers can buy a pack of twenty. The company also sells a six cup Chemex Coffee bundle which allows the customer to manually brew their coffee so they have hundred percent control over how their coffee taste. This product comes with six filters and a bag of coffee grounds. There is another option online, which is a bundle that comes with a bag of Death Wish Coffee grounds and a bag of Valhalla Java Coffee.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Meet The Entrepreneur Behind The Death Wish Coffee Super Bowl Ad". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  2. ^ a b c "Death Wish coffee wins a Super Bowl commercial". Fox News. 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  3. ^ "N.Y. coffee company preps to brew bigger success with Super Bowl ad". Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  4. ^ "Vidler's falls short in Super Bowl commercial". WIVB-TV. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  5. ^ a b c "Death Wish Coffee sales soar after Super Bowl ad - News - Community News (". Community News. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  6. ^ a b c "Death Wish Coffee". Death Wish Coffee Company. Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  7. ^ "Death Wish Coffee Company Announces New Liquor Infused Coffee". PRWeb. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  8. ^ "Barrel Brand". Death Wish Coffee Company. Retrieved 2016-04-06.