Chillin’ with Death Wish Coffee’s New Cold Brew

It’s Monday, the start of the workweek. Maybe you had a really great weekend – perhaps a little too great? OK, let’s be honest, you’re really dragging, and could use something with a little extra “oomph” to help get you up and at ‘em to face the day.

But it’s also summer, and the idea of a steaming hot cup of coffee just doesn’t sound all that appealing.

And iced coffee? That weak sister? Forget it, never does the job – especially not after the ice starts to melt, further diluting your drink into some near approximation of coffee. Basically, it’s just tan water with a hint of caffeine.

Well, despair no more, my overtired and overheated friends. The purveyor of the world’s purportedly strongest java has a new product: Death Wish cold brew.

The shelf-stable, canned brew comes in two flavors: unsweetened black and slightly sweetened black, each of which packs a punch of 300 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce can.

It is, like the rest of the Round Lake-based company’s products, about two times stronger than your average cup of joe, but perhaps even a hair stronger than a regular cup of its hot coffee because of the small size of the cold brew container.

Death Wish founder and CEO Mike Brown said the cold brew was a long time in the making – about two years, to be exact.

It was initially intended to replace the company’s short-lived nitro brew, which was voluntarily recalled back in September 2017 due to fears of potential botulism contamination, though no illnesses were ever reported.

“We had hoped to do it in 2018, but it took an extra year,” Brown said during a Saturday night launch party held at the Albany Distilling Company at 75 Livingston Ave., Albany. “We wanted to do it right, and there’s a lot to do with the process…we kind of had to go back to the drawing board.”

The “process” Brown referred to included finding a producer that could handle the volume of product Death Wish hoped to generate – apparently a difficult task in the already crowded cold brew market. There’s also the matter of getting approval from the FDA for a safe, shelf-stable product that will, in this case, according to Brown, be good for up to a year.

Death Wish CEO Mike Brown chats with attendees at his company’s cold brew launch on Saturday, June 15, 2019 (photo credit: CivMix).

A few dozen people were already gathered when the launch party kicked off at 5 p.m., and even a slight drizzle was not enough to keep them from their caffeine. Among them was Nick Peckowitz, a 23-year-old North Greenbush resident, who was enjoying a sample of the slightly sweetened cold brew, which comes in a red-and-black can emblazoned with the company’s signature skull-and-crossbones logo.

“It’s great; very smooth,” he said. “I don’t usually drink just straight black coffee. This is just slightly sweetened and it goes down easy, so even if you don’t like totally black coffee, anybody can drink this, really.”

Peckowitz said he’s a regular coffee drinker, and is seasonal in his consumption selection – hot when it’s cold, and cold when it’s hot.

“Definitely in the summer months, if you want to enjoy coffee, you don’t want to really go get a hot coffee on a 90-degree day, so if you can go the store and get one of these, you know, more power to the people,” he said. “In the summer months, it’s always cold brew.”

He said he would definitely purchase a Death Wish cold brew when it becomes commercially available, adding: “It comes in a can, you can take it anywhere you need to go.”

And that, according to Death Wish’s content manager, Shannon Sweeney, is exactly the point.

“We were just listening to what our customers wanted, and they, at the end of the day, just wanted a good cold brew that they could take with them on the go that packs a mean punch,’ Sweeney said.

“The mission of our company is we want to fuel people’s passions,” she continued. “A lot of people tell us that our coffee gets them through their day…I think coffee and the whole movement gives people the energy they need without all the unnecessary chemicals you find in energy drinks.”

The new cold brew can also be used as a mixer for those who enjoy a side of alcohol with their caffeine, as was demonstrated by Albany Distilling, which has a close relationship with Death Wish, and since 2016 has collaborated with the distiller to make coffee vodka.

Two drinks made with the new cold brew were on offer Saturday night.

One, The Garrison, featured Death Wish vodka, Death Wish cold brew, cream and simple syrup on ice. Sort of a melted boozy, coffee milkshake. Yum. Yes, please.

The other, the Round Lake, was a bit more sophisticated, served in a martini glass that contained Ironweed Bourbon, cherry juice, Death Wish cold brew and simple syrup. A classy broad who seems sweet, but watch out, she means business.

At the moment, Death Wish cold brew can only be procured online, for $14.99 per four-pack, through the company’s website, or on Amazon, though Brown and his team hope it will be in stores later this summer. (Apparently, a canned cream-and-sugar latte is in the works, as well).

And just in case you’re wondering: But how strong IS it, really…Brown said the cold brew is too much, even for him.

And while he’s loyal to his own brand, when he’s in a pinch without Death Wish and in need of a caffeine infusion, McDonald’s, which has been upping its coffee game in recent years, “works for me.”

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