How our relationship with Zakk Wylde started and how Valhalla Java was born

The story of Zakk Wylde and Death Wish Coffee Co.

By Angela Garrity, Guest blogger

In life, certain things just belong together. In this episode of Fueled by Death Cast, Barbaranne Wylde “spills the beans” on how a Viking of metal who swings his axe daily and the world’s strongest coffee partnered together to create Valhalla Java.  

Guitarist Zakk Wylde stands in front of a wall with the black and gold Valhalla Java coffee logo

“It’s not such a secret that Zakk used to love beer as much as he loves coffee,” Barbaranne said in her interview. A decade ago, Zakk found sobriety. We support your commitment every day, Zakk! 

“Knowing what I know about addiction, you have to trade one for another, because you’re not going to change that part of somebody’s personality," she said. "He plays the part 10 hours a day and still practices that much – it’s all or nothing with everything that he does and is the same for most of the people I know with  that personality. It’s why he’s incredible at what he does.”

After Zakk Wylde became sober, Barbaranne mentions how he got into coffee.

“He really started getting into coffee. He loves it, he loves the taste of it, he loves everything about it. It became his new thing. He doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t smoke – he’s sober. He doesn’t drink alcohol, so coffee became his ‘guilty pleasure.’ He’s very disciplined as far as his diet and health. He’s always been really into body building and all that. It’s something he really loves, also for the fat burning properties, as well. All of it.”

We wholeheartedly support this decision, as we are also devoted to the divine dark drink that fills the horn ourselves. Skál!

Today, Zakk Wylde is co-managed by wife, Barbaranne and bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson. This pleases all who inhabit realms of Yggdrasil.

Barbaranne recants this epic tale of legend.

“When Blasko first started working with us in a marketing capacity, he basically asked Zakk ‘What are some of the things that you want to do on your wishlist?’" she said. "And Zakk said, ‘I really want to do coffee, but I haven’t had anything brought to me that isn’t just white labeled, that I feel good about, I don’t like the taste of it. I want to be involved. I don’t want to just associate myself with a coffee. I want it to be mine. I want to love the people that make it.’"

From there, Blasko brought him Death Wish Coffee to try, and the rest is history. Blasko got him in touch with John Swedish, director of strategic engagement and partnerships, and Mike Brown, owner and CEO, and they started giving Zakk things to try and asked Zakk what he was looking for in a coffee blend.

The vegvísir guided Zakk to Death Wish and Gebo was attained.

“Valhalla Java has Zakk’s vision and the moniker Viking vision thing... That’s who he is. The Viking on guitar who is even wearing the kilt all the time now," Barbaranne said.

The Saga of Hrafnkel Freysgothi teaches “He is a wise man who knows himself" —very true.

There is a code of honor that must be followed, as Barbaranne explains.

“He developed Valhalla Java with John and Mike, and loves the profile. He doesn’t put his name of likeness on anything that he doesn’t use on a daily basis. I kid you not ... You’re not allowed to be on a Black Label tour without a Black Label T-shirt on or Zakk Sabbath one on. It’s the uniform. You’re not allowed to drink any coffee in Zakk’s presence that isn’t Valhalla or Death Wish."

It’s just a great thing. It’s something we are really passionate about, we love it, and it’s our Death Wish Coffee family.

We are pretty “Wylde” about the relationship, too. It connects us all, similar to how Bifröst connects Midgard to Asgard. 

Catch Barbaranne's full interview on Fueled By Death Cast Episode 145 – Valhalla Java, Death Wish Coffee, and Zakk Wylde.

Related: The story of Zakk Wylde and Barbaranne's first date