Viscous Coffee has long had a reputation for the many varieties of coffee it serves at Christies Beach, 40 minutes south of Adelaide. But it’s owner Steve Benington’s latest concoction, The Asskicker, that’s put the cafe into global headlines this past week or so.
The iced coffee comes in three sizes. The largest costs $16 and contains four shots of espresso; four 48-hour-brewed cold-drip ice cubes; 120 millilitres of 10-day-brewed cold-drip; and some steamed milk to hold it all together. It’s topped off with four more cold-drip ice cubes.
That adds up to about five grams of caffeine – 80 times what’s in a single shot of espresso.
By many accounts, that’s enough to kill an adult.
But well before that, most people would be crippled by severe headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety and loss of motor control. There’s no recommended daily intake for caffeine, but according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, doses upwards of 210 milligrams a day are enough to bring on ill effects. The Asskicker contains 25 times more caffeine than that.
So is anyone actually drinking it?
Benington says it’s always been a niche product. He’s been selling two or three a week since it was developed 12 months ago. It’s intended to be drunk over a full day, not in a dangerously short sitting.
“The idea came about from a regular customer, a nurse from the local hospital who was called in for an emergency night shift and needed something to stay alert,” he says. “It took her two days to finish the drink, and it kept her up for three.”
Buyers can expect to go undergo a quick exam from Benington to ensure responsible drinking. Those with known heart or blood pressure issues are out. “We vet our customers according to the health risks involved,” he says. “For a first timer, I try and talk them out of it, and if I’m able to, then they’re not ready for it.”
That seems like a pretty low hurdle for a drink that could cause hospitalisation. But even if The Asskicker is consumed responsibly, its very existence is likely to upset some industry people.
For the past decade or so specialty growers, roasters and baristas have worked hard to steer coffee’s reputation away from that of cheap stimulant, and focus more on taste. The Asskicker is a giant, drug-enhanced leap in the opposite direction.
27A Beach Road, Christies Beach, South Australia
0433 328 843
Wed to Fri 7am–6pm