Do You Have a Coffee Death Wish?

Do You Have a Coffee Death Wish?

Oh, joy, another coffee brand.

But this is not just another coffee brand.

The owner was smart to create a brand position that requires him to filter his marketing (and his coffee) by making the powerful promise that Death Wish Coffee is the world’s strongest coffee. 

By roasting Robusta beans instead of Arabica, Mike Brown wants to satisfy his craving for really, really, really, strong coffee. In 2012, he started a small coffee shop in Saratoga Springs, NY. Eventually, he realized that he needed to define his brand with more precision. He didn’t want to be like everyone else. When he asked industry experts about roasting the right kinds of beans, they all told him he needed to roast Arabica even though he preferred the intense, deep taste and kick from Robusta.

Mike knew if the rest of industry was zigging, he had to zag.

Death Wish Coffee

By having a clear vision, Mike could make marketing decisions based on staking out a claim.

If his activities didn’t reinforce his brand position, he wouldn’t do it. So, the ethos, image, and taste of his brand all had to be as strong and powerful as possible. No wimpy coffee allowed or romantic coffee imagery. From packaging to merchandise, everything had to be reviewed against his standard of passionate coffee to fuel customer’s passionate lives.

Dripping with Marketing Lessons

  • Starting a business? Better own a clear and well-defined position that separates you from everyone else. Other coffee sellers sell a range of coffee. Death Wish only sells coffee that is so strong it can make your hair stand on end. It is polarizing. It isn’t for everyone. He focuses on a niche community and he made a product for them. He didn’t search for customers. Customers who wanted the world’s strongest coffee searched for him. 
  • Understanding your customers. Mike didn’t care about people who wanted delicate floral bouquets in the coffee aroma. He wanted people who wanted to live passionately. Death Wish Coffee wants to fuel you wherever you go. He has rabid fans who tell their friends, who like strong coffee, about Death Wish.
  • Promises Kept. Death Wish Coffee offers a no-BS guarantee. If this isn’t the strongest coffee you ever tasted, they’ll give you your money back. No questions asked. Most brands are afraid to stand for something – anything at all. Death Wish isn’t trying to be all things to all people. They know who they are and if you don’t like your coffee super caffeinated, go to Dunkin Donuts.

Not Your Cup of Tea?

When you stand for something, you are intentionally closing the door on some customers. And, that is a good thing to do. If you are for everyone, you aren’t for anyone. Wild guarantees that make big claims get noticed. Sitting on the fence with wishy-washy customers will get you average results. You must take a stand and be for something.

Do you make the world’s biggest, fastest, smallest, strongest, lightest, shiniest fill (in the blank)?

Unless you take a stand, you’ll never brew a brilliant brand.

If you are the same as everybody then you are building an average brand. Want to be a brand percolating with caffeine and stand out from the crowd? Let’s work together. Call me at 919 720 0995 or email me at

Photo: Courtesy of Death Wish Coffee








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