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Metal’s Pivot to Coffee Has Me Feeling Like a Caffeinated Freak on a Leash

Plenty of metal bands have released their own line of coffee beans. Do they live up to their creators’ legacies?

When Korn developed nu-metal and released such genre-defining classics as “Freak on a Leash,” “A.D.I.D.A.S.” and animalistic freeform jazz-inspired scat-singing growl track “Twist,” most of the band was on meth. Twenty-five years later, though, the band relies on the milder high of coffee. Or, in their case, Koffee. In 2018, Korn released their own line of Korn Koffee brews and coffee-related merchandise, and I’ve been fascinated by the concept ever since. Only recently, however, did I learn that metal bands expanding into the field of caffeine is kind of a thing. Metallica did it, Aerosmith did it and guys from Megadeth and Anthrax still do. But who does it best? 

I purchased pre-ground beans (coffee aficionados, don’t come for me) from Korn Koffee, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth’s Ellefson Coffee Co. and Dark Matter Coffee’s collaboration with Anthrax’s Charlie Benante. However, my plan has faced one significant issue: My order from Ellefson Coffee is nowhere to be found. I received my purchase confirmation, but never heard anything regarding shipping. My last email went unanswered. I’m pretty sure I even paid like, 10 bucks for shipping. Megadeth, this is hardly the first time you’ll have heard this, but: Get your shit together. 

So, my little taste test could only include Korn’s signature dark roast, and Charlie Benante’s “Schism Blend” with Dark Matter Coffee. Each arrived in a timely manner, for which I thank them. Currently, I’m lucky to be living with my boyfriend’s parents, who would call themselves coffee snobs. Their freezer is lined with hip little indie coffee brands, and they’ve got all the proper equipment for brewing coffee in any which way. I ultimately chose pour-over. 

My very metal brews

This may have been an issue, as I realize now that I purchased the “press pot” version of Benante’s coffee. Because pour-over and press pot coffees usually vary in terms of ideal coffee ground size, I may not have brewed the ideal pot. Honestly, I don’t know shit about coffee. I just drink it. I will say, though, that I noticed a difference between Korn Koffee and Benante’s. 

Sniffing the grounds, Benante’s had a bit more nuance than Korn’s. I noted chocolate and cinnamon, while my boyfriend noted ammonia (this is relatively normal for flavor profiles for things like wine and weed, so I assume it’s also normal for coffee). Korn Koffee, however, just smelled like coffee. That’s fine, because it is coffee. 

Brewed, that dichotomy remained. Korn delivered a damn fine cup of coffee. Nothing crazy, just coffee. Benante’s was rather acidic and bitter, which, maybe it’s supposed to be! I’d rather drink Korn’s coffee black than I would Benante’s, though. Schism was ambitious, and is likely intended to be a more complicated cup of coffee. That’s why it has its own fancy name. Korn’s coffee is just called “Dark Roast,” so I’m unsure what else one could expect. As such, my boyfriend’s mother did prefer Schism, which she called “bold and rich” and noted its “good mouth feel.” Meanwhile, she called Korn’s “bland and generic.” 

In terms of the actual coffee buzz, well, um, they both seem to be working. My jaw? Clenched. My legs? Twitching. My bowels? Quaking. I am indeed caffeinated. 

There’s a big problem in my assessment here, though: I am a diehard Korn fan. I don’t really care about Anthrax. So perhaps you should be listening to my boyfriend’s mother, who I imagine couldn’t identify either Korn or Anthrax if you played them for her. Listening to Anthrax as I sit uncomfortably coffee’d, I feel frustrated: I feel as though the coffee and music combination wants me to feel like I’m about to successfully fight off some bad guys using kung-fu, whereas Korn knows I’m just some twitchy loser drinking mediocre coffee and wishing I could turn off my internal motor. The latter feels more honest. Does Benante brew a better cup? Probably, but I’m just some white trash degenerate who doesn’t know shit about coffee, anyway. Korn Koffee knows their audience.