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'Death Wish' Coffee Recalled Because It May Contain Deadly Toxin

Who woulda thought?

Nick Keppler

Nick Keppler

Death Wish Coffee

The Death Wish Coffee Company of Upstate New York is recalling its canned beverages because of a small risk that it might actually kill people.

The Round Lake, NY, beverage maker—which advertises its blend as "the World's Strongest Coffee"—is taking its 11-ounce Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew cans off of shelves because an outside scientific consultant the company hired determined that its brewing process carries some risk of producing botulin. The deadly toxin can be a byproduct of food and beverage production.

"No one has gotten sick from it," says owner and founder Mike Brown. "There hasn't been an incident. It's a precautionary step."

Brown adds, "Customer safety is one of our priorities at Death Wish Coffee."

The cold beverage comes in soda-like cans and is "creamy like a Guinness," Brown says. It and the regional company's whole-bean and ground coffee are sold in Price Chopper and Market 32 grocery stores upstate, as well as the Healthy Living Market and Café in Saratoga Springs.

But the Nitro Brew Cold Brew, which was introduced in February, is taking a hiatus from store shelves. Brown says Cornell University food scientists who tested the product found no issues, but their consultant said their pasteurization process might leave some heat-resistant botulin. The scientists recommended they replace it with a retorting process to sterilize food and drinks once they're inside a container.

So, good news for fans not taking the brand name literally: A safer Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew will be available soon.

Customers who ordered their drinks online have already received a refund, Brown says, and locals can return their cans to company headquarters and get their money back.

Brown says the six-year-old company's slogan of "the World's Strongest Coffee" does not actually refer to caffeine content, the way you might assume—though its caffeine level is twice that of average coffees—but rather to the overall flavor and stimulating effect of the blend.

The company has a skull and crossbones logo and has used the now-perhaps-unfortunate hashtag of #fueledbydeath on social media. Brown says that when he was starting the company he was inspired by a cup cozy he owns that shows a snarling dog and the words "death wish." "I just thought that would be an awesome name for a coffee company," he says. Despite the bones and cemetery motifs, he says, "We are sticklers for safety."

"I hope customers who look at this realize Death Wish Coffee is looking out for you," he says. "We're not skirting this. We have protocols in place, and we will have a brand new product soon."

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