Deathwish Coffee Flavor without the Caffeine
December 31, 2015 7:20 AM   Subscribe

After years of close but not right and almost-good-enough-coffee-beans, I've discovered my holy grail of flavor, Deathwish coffee. Slightly cherrylike, a little chocolatey and OH SO MILD yet with a bit of a bite. Problem? I don't love the supercharged caffeine level.

Coffee aficionados, help a sister out. I use a grinder and a Chemex and I am committed to making two delicious cups of joe daily. But I'm missing the perfect bean.

If I love the flavor of Deathwish, what else will I love? Assume I have Peets, Trader Joes, Starbucks, Costco, Whole Foods, Amazon, Wegmans, etc. at my disposal. I've tried Stumptown and found it WAY too acidic.
posted by sweetie_darling to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not familiar with Deathwish coffee but I am one of the universe's most demanding and fussy coffee drinkers and I love Intelligentsia Coffee.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:25 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

You may also wish to try Bun Coffee from Australia. Byron Bay is severely under-appreciated among the universe's coffee regions.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2015

Oh man sorry to spill a thousand comments all over you but also Sightglass Coffee, and Portola Coffee. And Blue Bottle.

Don't try to find the single perfect coffee bean, is what I'm saying. There is an amazing range of subtle, delicious, interesting coffees, and you should try them all.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:30 AM on December 31, 2015

It's hard to answer this without having tasted Deathwish coffee, but Wegmans has a Chocolate Cherry coffee. I've found all their coffee beans to be very mild. The flavor isn't overwhelming, either.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:40 AM on December 31, 2015

I also found stumptown too acidic.

Not to be too pedestrian, but have you tried Lavazza? Their decaf is good. Their Qualita Orro (gold package) is the ideal arabica bean imo. And if you're ever near Toronto, try Balzac's coffee, it is perfect.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:42 AM on December 31, 2015

I am also fussy and love Intelligentsia. My go-to is the Black Cat espresso, which tastes to me like the flavors you describe. I also like the Blue Heeler blend from Colectivo a lot; I find that it has a good roasty not-too-strong, non-acidic taste.
posted by ferret branca at 7:45 AM on December 31, 2015

Shown on their 'About' page, is them holding a bag of CAC* La Florida from Peru. The import house Interamerican sells a bunch of this coffee, and you could contact them directly and ask who they sell it to. From that list, you're assured at least one roaster that doesn't add more caffeine to the mix.

This is at least one of the coffees that they use to build what I'm assuming is a blend of coffees. Finca La Florida is a pretty big cooperative, so you might not find exactly what you're looking for, but this would be a good place to start. Many (but not all!) Peruvian coffees stereotypically have a great creamy body, really low acidity, and a huge chocolate hit. I lovingly refer to some of my peruvian coffees as "boring" in the best way; super satisfying and not 'exciting' in the way that fights against some bacon and eggs.

If you're willing to mail-order coffee to yourself, there are a remarkable amount of high-scoring Peruvian coffees from a number of different roasters all listed out on the accurately named Coffee Review (link goes to the Peruvian coffee search). You won't get full reviews of the coffee unless you buy a subscription (which I don't recommend) but you'll get the point scores on a 100 point scale, and the name of the coffee and the roaster. Its a bit more legwork, but you can find some really good coffees at really low prices this way. Once you land upon a roaster that you enjoy, you can start to branch out to different offerings they have. Most roasters are more than happy to help you find a coffee that you like, and having a reference point within their own menu can be really helpful to them to help pin down how to get you something you're going to love.

Since you've mentioned that you don't like Stumptown (which, you may want to give a 2nd chance. Their quality can be rather…variable) because of the acidity, I would actually suggest staying away from Intelligentsia, Sightglass and Blue Bottle; their styles are fairly similar and border on the lighter (but still very developed in flavor) side, which has a tendency to accentuate acidic flavors in coffee. I personally like this sometimes, and when I roast coffee it borders this style…but it isn't for everyone for sure.

I would also try and stay away from many of the coffee purveyors you have on your 'access' list, because they don't necessarily audit their supply chains well, and that's a really good way to inadvertently support child labor, indentured servitude, and probably some outright slavery (exceptions to that are actually the Whole Foods Allegro brand, who are doing pretty good things in terms of sourcing coffee, but really brutal things in the roasting process. They're getting better though; I would keep tabs on them over time).

*This is just the acronym of the cooperative, the full name is Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera La Florida, which might help in your search terms.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:52 AM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]

furnace.heart is right that the brands I mentioned are closer to Stumptown than not. I still find them less acidic, so if it's a matter of degree and you can handle a little bit of it, you may still want to give them a try. If you absolutely cannot handle that aspect of it, then do still try Bun Coffee.

I love people who love coffee.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also to make that coffee, they're probably just adding powered caffeine to the ground coffee; you could probably call them up and ask them to pull out a pound or two for you without the added caffeine and have it shipped out for you.

Hopefully, if they're not dicks, they will appreciate that you like the flavor of their coffee and will hook you up.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:59 AM on December 31, 2015

According to their why death wish page, it's not added caffeine- just specially selected beans and a different roasting process.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2015

Nthing Intelligentsia, though I prefer another Chicago roaster, Metropolis. Their La Cordillera blend is my favorite coffee of all time: it tastes like s'mores with a hint of berry to me.

I also just did my first order from Happy Mug recently and loved everything I got. They have a few Peruvian coffees that may be similar in flavor to Deathwish. My favorite was the Costa Rica Honey Process, which, per its name, is processed in a way that makes it sweeter than most coffee. Their prices and shipping costs are super low, so they're worth a try.
posted by anotheraccount at 9:11 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love good strong coffee but have found the acid to be a problem. I mix Trader Joes low acid coffee with whatever stronger coffee I use. Half and half.

I am not sure how it would affect the taste of a flavored coffee though. It does not increase the caffeine as far as I can tell and might even cut it a bit.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:52 AM on December 31, 2015

When you say mild, do you mean a light roast?

Caffeine content varies by roast level. Caffeine diminishes with increased roasting level: light roast, 1.37%; medium roast, 1.31%; and dark roast, 1.31%.[12]

So if you like a light roast and not much caffeine, I think this will make it extra-challenging to find the perfect bean.
posted by aniola at 11:15 AM on December 31, 2015

Also, if you cold brew coffee, it's way less acidic and supposedly contains less caffeine.
Because the coffee beans in cold water extract coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile from conventional brewing methods. [1] Coffee beans contain a number of constituents, such as caffeine, oils, and fatty acids, which are highly soluble at high temperatures. By brewing the coffee at lower temperatures, many of these solubles do not completely dissolve, resulting in lower acidity and lower caffeine content when brewed in equal volume.[2] [3] Cold bloomed tea is a similar process using tea as opposed to coffee.[4]
posted by aniola at 11:21 AM on December 31, 2015

Death Wish is apparently a dark roast with a high quantity of robusta beans. (As opposed to most expensive coffee, which is arabica.) Robusta has higher caffeine but (usually) kind of a funky taste -- Death Wish's secret sauce according to that link was figuring out how to make robusta beans palatable.

Outside super-cheap coffee, robusta is mostly used to improve crema in espresso roasts -- which are also dark. So if you check espresso roasts for words like "robusta," "smooth," and "cherry," that might be a good place to start -- Whole Foods seems like a good bet.

(I also searched CoffeeGeek for Death Wish and didn't find much, making me think the people who could otherwise just answer this off the top of their head might not be familiar with the brand. But you could try asking there as well.)
posted by jhc at 1:27 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I find a lot of fancy coffees a little too fruity/winey/acid. I am liking Philz's Jacobs Wonderbar in our pour over rig these days. Dark roast, low acidity, chocolate and nut aromas. That said, I am no expert and have not tried Death Wish.
posted by vunder at 3:07 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you tried the Deathwish Valhalla Java? That's my go-to coffee for days when I don't need to be awake for 22 hours.
posted by culfinglin at 10:03 AM on January 4, 2016

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