Extreme Foods

Coffee with dangerously high caffeine content may keep you up for 18 hours

Can coffee kill you? If it has enough caffeine, it just might.

Can coffee kill you? If it has enough caffeine, it just might.  (Tetsugoro)

This cup of coffee will last you all morning.

And afternoon.

And night.

A barista in Australia has created a coffee combination so potent that it promises as much as 18 hours of “up time.” It also packs in half the amount of caffeine considered to be legally safe to consume in the country. It’s a real upper, Down Under.

So what exactly is in the “Ass Kicker” coffee, created by Christies Beach coffee shop Viscous Coffee? What isn’t in the drink would be a better question. The brew contains a quad shot (four shots in one) of espresso, four ice cubes made from 48-hour cold drip and 120 milliliters of extra-aged ten-day cold brew. Plus, the barista adds four 48-hour cold brew ice cubes for an extra kick. 

For comparison purposes, a regular cup of Joe contains around 100-200 milligrams of caffeine while a single shot of espresso has around 60 milligrams. But the “Ass Kicker” will likely do exactly what its title suggests; it has five grams of caffeine and is about 80 times stronger than a shot of espresso. That’s about the amount of caffeine the FDA says could lead to an overdose. In fact, the FDA recommends a maximum of about 400 milligrams a day (or four eight ounce cups of coffee). In the U.S., caffeine is legal in beverages and food as long as it is listed in the ingredients panel-- however, products are not required to list the amount of caffeine that they contain. A 12-ounce can of soda can contain a maximum of 65 milligrams of caffeine, but many other other products such as energy drinks, aren't regulated in the same way. 

The FDA is currently investigating the use of caffeine in food, especially as it relates to the consumption of these foods by minors. The administration can also pull caffeinated items that it deems harmful-- such as those containing alcohol -- but many products are discussed on a case by case basis.

Without set criteria, however, scientists generally agree that around 10 grams of caffeine can lead to death.

According to The Advertiser, Viscous Coffee shop owner Steve Bennington designed the beverage to be consumed over time--up to three to four hours for the large version of the drink. But the super strong brew does come with a medical warning advising those with a heart condition or high blood pressure to steer clear. 

Bennington said “some people love” the drink while others “are broken by it.” The initial intention behind the beverage, however, was to assist an emergency department nurse who needed to be kept alert and awake on unexpected overnight shifts. Bennington says she sipped one order over two days.

And she stayed up for three.

Of course, a drink this strong can come with side effects. “There have been a number of documented cases of hospital admissions and also death with caffeine intakes less than half of what is contained in this beverage,” dietitian Tanya Lewis told The Advertiser. Lewis said the beverage should be considered a “very high risk drink.”

That depends, of course, on what kind of risk the drinker wants to take. The coffee combination has three sizes.  The small, which costs AUD$10 (about $7.60), has a recommended one-two hour consumption for six to nine hours “up time.” A medium is $13 (two-three hours consumption for nine-12 hours “up time”) while the large is $12 (with a recommended three-four hour consumption for 12 to 18 hours “up time”).

And if you think your daily Starbucks has you trained to sip with the big boys, think again. According to caffeineinformer.com, a hot Starbucks Venti Pike Place Brewed Coffee (only?) tops out at around 415 milligrams of caffeine.