A Viking with a large spear standing proudly in front of a fiery burned down city.

How Valhalla Java was Born

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The History of Death Wish Coffee and Zakk Wylde

In life, certain things just belong togetherlike Death Wish Coffee and Zakk Wylde. You might recognize him from his tenure as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and as the founder, lead guitarist and lead singer of the heavy metal band Black Label Society. He's kind of a big deal.

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 Death Wish Coffee became partners in creating Valhalla Java, a coffee roast crafted for boldness and maximum flavor—strong enough to wake the dead and chariot them gloriously through the gates of Valhalla.  

Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde backstage at a show.[Photo Credit: Loudwire]

“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. 

“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 muchit’s all or nothing with everything that he does, and that's the same for most people I know with that type of 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 smokehe’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 bodybuilding and all that. Coffee is something he really lovesalso 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!

A bag of Valhalla Java coffee next to an Odin coffee mug.

Today, Zakk Wylde is co-managed by his 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 asked Zakk, ‘What are some of the things you want to do on your wish list?’" 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 and that I like the taste of. 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 Coffee, and Gebo was attained.

“Valhalla Java has Zakk’s vision, and the moniker Viking vision thing...that’s who he is," 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 Death Wish Coffee and loves the profile. He doesn’t put his name of likeness on anything 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 or Zakk Sabbath tee on. It’s the uniform. You’re not allowed to drink any coffee in Zakk’s presence that isn’t Valhalla Java or Death Wish Coffee."

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. 

[Featured Image Source: Victor B Iyyvakvhi via Fjord Tours]