Dead Sled Coffee’s Mike Thorwart on bringing horror icons like Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price into coffee

We caught up with Dead Sled’s Co-Owner and Head of Product Development, Mike Thorwart, to discuss how Dead Sled translates brands into coffee.

Dead Sled Coffee has embarked on several brand collaborations in recent years, bringing music icons like KISS into coffee as well as launching blends inspired by horror icons like Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Robert Englund.

As its most recent launch – a collaboration with the horror site Bloody Disgusting – lands, we caught up with Dead Sled’s Co-Owner and Head of Product Development, Mike Thorwart, to discuss how the company translates brands into coffee.

Mike Thorwart, Dead Sled Coffee

Hi Mike, great to connect. To kick us off, for anyone new to Dead Sled Coffee, what is it that you guys specialise in?
We’re a distinguished coffee company for the exceptional and unconventional. We want to offer craft coffee, regardless of your knowledge. Everyone is included here.

Great. You have a range of flavours, and several based on icons of horror – Bela’s Brew, Vincent Price Pumpkin Spice… Was working with brands and personalities always on the cards for the company?
Our first set of collaborations happened pretty quickly. We collaborated with the Vampira, Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi estates. Working with artists that coincide with us and our branding was always the idea. We just never thought it’d take off as quick as it has.

So what guides your approach to brand collaborations?
There is no written rule book on it. We are very much horror and music oriented. Anything horror we’ll always entertain if it makes sense at the time.

Mike Thorwart, Dead Sled Coffee

From a creative point of view, how do you decide what flavours are a good fit for these icons?
I’ll use Kane Hodder as an example.

I should add, for those not into horror, Kane Hodder is known for playing Jason Voorhees in the iconic Friday 13th franchise as well as being Victor Crowley in the Hatchet movies.
Yes! I personally worked directly with his agent and she let me know what type of coffee he likes. We created a proprietary blend and sent Kane a sample of it. He loved it, so that’s what we went with.

For certain collaborations, we’ll decide on what fits, or what we want to do, but some of the artists really want to be involved in the process… Especially if they’re coffee drinkers. We love it when they get involved. It always makes the project that much more fun.

Mike Thorwart, Dead Sled Coffee

Great stuff. And as a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I smiled at Robert Englund’s Stay Awake Blend! Now, horror site Bloody Disgusting is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and you’ve created the brand’s first ever official licensed coffee. How did this collaboration come about?
Bloody Disgusting covered the launch of that Robert Englund coffee, so that’s where it all started!

John Squires, who is the editor in chief, mentioned us in a tweet and something similar to “How can Bloody Disgusting go about getting a coffee?”. From there it was smooth sailing. Tom and John of Bloody Disgusting had a great idea of doing something like a chocolate and cherry style coffee due to the Bloody Disgusting name and it fit perfect. It was a great match and they’ve been incredible to work with; we’re honoured to be their official coffee.

Mike Thorwart, Dead Sled Coffee

Looking ahead, are there more horror brands you think could be right for a coffee launch?
Absolutely. We already have multiple artists signed that are currently in the design and sampling phase that haven’t launched yet. The next horror icon coffee that’s launching soon is Bill Moseley. Most know him as Otis B. Driftwood from House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, and Three from Hell. He also played Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

Exciting times. A huge thanks for taking time out for this Mike. Hopefully catch up again soon!

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