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Opinion: It’s Been a Bonkers 48 Hours in Celebrity Coffee News and it Feels Pretty Bad

celebrity coffee

The past two days couldn’t be any weirder in celebrity coffee launch news.

Rudy Coffee

Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani, who is currently incognito as the state of Arizona seeks him out for his latest summons, launched Rudy Coffee, a new coffee brand bearing superhero-like images of the disgraced former New York mayor and the following personal message:

“I’ve moved at a fast pace, and have had many different roles in life, but the one constant thing has been a good cup of coffee, which is now proven to have health benefits. Please enjoy my delicious fresh roasted specialty coffee. It’s quality you can trust.”

The launch was first announced on X by Giuliani’s companion, Maria Ryan, a hospital executive who described the coffee line as originating with the couple’s search for “really organic non-GMO bean farms.”

Branded 2-pound bags of Rudy Coffee include the “Fighting For Justice” dark roast called Rudy Bold, the “Enjoying Life” Rudy Decaf and the “America’s Mayor” Morning Coffee. Bags on the website show a USDA-organic seal, the decaf bag shows a Swiss Water Process logo and all bags are marked “100% arabica.”

Mahomes-Backed Sport Coffee

Today, a coffee company called Throne Sport Coffee (styled as “Throne SPORT COFFEE”) launched, promoting NFL superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the lead investor and product collaborator.

“I am proud to be part of Throne SPORT COFFEE and to launch and introduce a better iced coffee to the masses,” Mahomes said in a press release. “We have been working on creating the perfect product for those who are always on-the-go, who are looking for a natural energy source with added benefits and I couldn’t be more excited about being in on the ground floor of building this brand.”

According to the new company, which has found placement for the ready-to-drink product line in national platforms such as Casey’s, Hy-Vee and Amazon, the “nutritional formula” for the beverage includes 150 milligrams of caffeine, natural flavors and sweeteners, 100% of daily B vitamins, electrolytes and branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs). At the base is “sustainably sourced arabica coffee beans from Central and South America,” according to the company.

Green Day’s Punk Bunny Coffee

Yesterday, the three members of the rock band Green Day — Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool — announced the launch of Punk Bunny Coffee, which is essentially a relaunch of the Oakland Coffee brand that Dirnt and Armstrong launched nearly a decade ago.

Beyond the name change, what’s different this time around is the occasion of Green Day’s new stadium tour in support of its new album, “Saviors,” plus a deal with coffee pod giant Keurig Dr Pepper.

“As part of the band and KDP’s shared commitment to sustainability, Punk Bunny K-Cup pods will be the first to launch the full flavor portfolio — Father of All…Dark Roasts, Soundcheck, Last Ride In and Light Club — with peel tab lids to easily prepare pods for recycling,” a press release from the band’s PR agency said yesterday.

Celebrity Coffee

All of this goes to show that whether you’re currently riding high off your third Super Bowl MVP, or you’re a real live rockstar, or you’re evading authorities in bankruptcy court after losing a $148 million defamations judgement, you can sell coffee — so long as you’re famous.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but some celebrity coffee launches rub itchier than others.

The members of Green Day, for example, seem to have a genuine passion for drinking coffee, while the new brand is also more forthcoming about its production and sourcing, partnering with well-regarded Ohio-based roasting company Caruso’s Coffee. The Punk Bunny brand also includes a charitable element — a stark contrast to hawking coffee to cover legal bills.

There are also other celebrities, like NBA star Jimmy Butler, who appeared at the 2023 Specialty Coffee Expo sharing an undeniable and genuine passion for the craft and quality of coffee — particularly specialty coffee — as expressed through his BigFace brand.

Other recent launches have come from Millie Bobbie Brown, celebrity gamer Jacksepticeye, Snoop Dogg (he’s since left the brand), Emma Chamberlain, NASCAR’s Trevor Bayne, Willie Nelson and even the clown Puddles Pity Party.

All these celebrity coffee entrepreneurs got in the game with different aspirations, approaches, products and financial risk. So what is it about some of these launches that feels a bit yuckier than others?

For me, it comes with the gross imbalance of wealth, transparency and power that continue to plague the global coffee industry. It comes with an odious mix of private-label anonymity, celebrity obsession culture, and “functional” food trend culture. It comes with the recognition of vast wealth in the United States, where coffee can be used as a fundraiser for politicians or a side-hustle for celebs, yet millions of the people who produce coffee continue to work in poverty and/or hostile conditions.

It comes when coffee feels like an afterthought, at best, or like snake oil, at worst — not the wonderful, agricultural, life-affirming thing that it can be.

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