If you're a fan of "Big Trouble In Little China" (and if you are not, either go rent it and then come back or go read "People" like you should be doing instead of visiting Science 2.0)(1) next to "Chinese people got a lotta Hells"(2) this famous exchange likely sticks in your mind.  As they descend into a metaphorical netherworld on their quest (see: anything by Joseph Campbell or Bulfinch's Mythology, if you are more conservative in your reading) the following exchange takes place:

Jack Burton: That is not water.
Egg Shen: Black blood of the earth.
Jack Burton: Do you mean oil?
Egg Shen: I mean black blood of the earth.

Obviously I am not the only "Big Trouble In Little China" fan around.   Even some people in Berkeley, California like it.  Who knew people in Berkeley could be clever??  

Phil Broughton's coffee story starts with a dewar.  What is a dewar?  It's basically a cool name for a thermal flask.    Broughton is a radiation safety technician at Berkeley and while looking for a stein, because he is a science guy in Berkeley so glasses won't do, he found a 2 liter dewar.   Broughton told Anne Pinckard at the California Alumni Association that when he bought it he thought, "I don’t know why I’d need a dewar, but why wouldn’t I need a dewar?"

We've all been there, Phil.

The dewar inspired him.   Because it was designed to be used with things like liquid nitrogen, it was ideal for home use, so he came up with awesome ideas like whiskey ice cubes - perfect for the kids - and a cold vacuum extraction process to make his coffee, what he called 'black blood of the earth', a clear homage to Big Trouble.

Funranium Labs coffee was born and now you can buy it in 50 ml doses.  50 ml is basically an espresso shot, 1/5th of a cup of coffee.   How did he derive that 40X the caffeine number?  "40x is the back of the envelope calculation. The attempt to get an empirical measurement resulted in breaking a gas chromatograph by detector saturation and subsequent loss of lab privileges," he told W. Blake Gray at SF Weekly.  We like knowing other people are never allowed in some labs again.

So a shot of this stuff is the caffeine of eight cups of coffee?  That's a lot, even for scientists.   Broughton recommends no more than 100 ml a day and we all know people who drink 16 cups of coffee per day.

But that is over time.   This is the caffeine in eight cups all at once and it exceeds the recommended daily allowance for people who aren't Wall Street goofballs.  Natalie Wolchover at Life's Little Mysteries did some math and says a 200 lb. man like me wouldn't actually die until hitting around 20,000 mg of caffeine - nearly 20 tubes of this Black Blood Of The Earth.

So I think I'll be okay trying it out but I bet I will be jittery.

If you want to read more on his process, including what he calls clinical human trials, his outstanding detailed blog site has it all.


(1) John Carpenter directed, of course, but the script was by W.D. Richter, who directed "Buckaroo Banzai: Across The 8th Dimension", a movie that is begging to be remade.   When the original came out, Perfect Tommy dressed like me but these days I guess I would have to play a Senator or a General or something.

(2) Obviously it can be pretty funny after Jack notes how many Hells they have in China.  

Jack Burton: [pointing to Chinese writing on elevator] What does that say?
Wang Chi:  Hell of Boiling Oil. 
Jack Burton: You're kidding.
Wang Chi: Yeah, I am. It says Keep Out.