When the news arrived this week that Will Oldham, a.k.a. alt-folk godhead Bonnie ’Prince’ Billy, was unveiling his own brand of coffee for fans with a caffeine jones (a certified-organic blend brewed by Hawaiian coffee makers Kona Rose, in case you were wondering), the first thing we did was look for the biggest thermos we could find. The second thing was, of course, to marvel at how far-reaching the rock-branded coffee biz has become. Is it simply a sign of the times that more musicians are aligning themselves with beans and blends than with beverages of a more intoxicating nature? Is caffeine the new Cutty? Or the new cocaine? Or do fans of indie troubadours and classic rockers alike just want to create the Starbucks of their dreams in the privacy of their own kitchens, with their favorite artists sitting in as celebrity baristas? In an attempt to answer this “pressing” question, we started looking at music-makers who have broken into the bean biz.
1. Kiss Koffee
Naturally it goes without saying that wherever there’s a merchandising opportunity to be found, Kiss will treat it like they would a starry-eyed groupie, leaping on it with reckless abandon and taking advantage of it six ways from Sunday. Not only were Gene, Paul, and company early entrants into the world of the rock & roll coffee crossover, they took it several steps further by opening their own official Kiss Coffehouse in Myrtle Beach, S.C. But you don’t have to travel to South Carolina to soak up the band’s medium roast Beth Blend, dark roast God of Thunder, or decaf Kiss Unplugged — like everything else from Kiss condoms to Kissmas tree ornaments, you can always order it online from rock’s mercantile masterminds.
2. Dave Mustaine’s Black Gold
The man behind Megadeth, a mud merchant? It’s easier to imagine thrash luminary Dave Mustaine marketing his own line of razorblade mouthwash, or maybe a 200 proof whiskey brand. Nevertheless, a couple of years ago the metal mauler introduced an organic, micro-roasted, fair-trade cuppa Joe that bore his name, in Peruvian, Black Gold, and decaf blends distributed by his wife’s Net Worth Coffee Brokers company, contributing a portion of the profits to the Door of Faith charity organization. Unfortunately, Mustaine discontinued his sideline in 2009, but hey, if it lived up to its namesake’s reputation, it would have been one seriously astringent cup of coffee, with a badass bitter aftertaste.
3. Styx Special Brew
Old-school arena rockers Styx have been out there stomping the boards all across America since the start of the ‘70s, and while the lineup has shifted some over the years, they’re still at it, bringing their prog-tinged epics and panoramic power ballads to spectacle-starved ears from coast to coast. So how does a band like Styx stay sharp with so many decades disappearing in the rearview mirror? Simple. Their secret weapon: the Styx Special Brew, an Italian roast that’s probably far more capable of keeping sixty-something rock stars’ senses crisp and firmly focused on the task at hand than anything that comes in a glass bottle.
4. George Jones’ Possum Coffee
Just because rock & roll has made its mark on the coffee industry, that doesn’t mean rock’s kissing cousin, country music, can’t get in on the action too. But while honky-tonk hero George Jones is an artist of appropriately iconic stature to launch such an endeavor successfully, we’ve got to admit he seems the least likely salesman we can think of for the stuff. After all, this is the same guy whose own autobiography contains a notorious tale about his wife hiding his car keys to keep him from driving to the bar, and Jones responding by steering his riding mower all the way into town for some serious elbow-bending. Nevertheless, perhaps the Possum Coffee (after his nickname, Ol’ Possum) that can be bought from Jones’s website will help keep some of his fans on the straight and narrow, and off the mower.
5. David Lynch’s Signature Cup Organic
Before you decide that David Lynch’s name seems anomalous on this list, consider the fact that the famed TV and film director, painter, and all-around amazing dude became a full-fledged recording artist in 2011, releasing his debut album, Crazy Clown Time, to a quizzical public. But don’t accuse Lynch of dilettantism when it comes to bean-brewing – as it happens, his David Lynch Signature Cup Organic brand of coffee looks to be the most carefully considered enterprise of all those examined here. It’s said to be “based on the tastes and preferences” of old spooky-drawers himself, and comes in House, Espresso Roast, and Decaf French Roast varieties, with beans brought in from everywhere from East Africa to Mexico. And just for fun, we suggest drinking a few cups and throwing Crazy Clown Time on and see what happens.