Caribou Coffee Forces Duluth Café to Stop Serving ‘Depth Charge’

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It's trademarked. Photo: Caribou Coffee

For fourteen years, independent Minnesota coffee shop Beaner's Central has been serving what it and other places, including the chain Caribou Coffee calls a "Depth Charge," an espresso and hot coffee mix intended to give the drinker a profound jolt. Caribou Coffee, the second-largest chain of its kind in the U.S., says its "extra pick-me-up" drink contains 445 milligrams of caffeine and is a registered trademark, however, which is likely part of the reason it threatened the shop with legal action last week: It just doesn't want anyone diluting its brand or its brews. "I effectively got a 'cease and desist': change your website, change your Facebook, don't ever mention this again, [and] change your signage," owner Jason Wussow says.

For his part, Wussow isn't interested in starting any volleys of legal correspondence, like the owner of a Missouri brewpub tried to keep aloft with Starbucks in a particularly epic way after getting in trouble last year for serving "Frappicino" beer. Still, he can't help but wonder if Beaner's Central has been singled out. "I wonder if they're going after everyone in town," he says, "because I know there are a lot of places that use that term."

In the meantime, Wussow's already purged the Depth Charge from his menu boards and has asked the public to help pick out new names, Northland Newscenter reports. Suggestions currently range from "Tow Truck," named in honor of a customer who goes by Tow Truck Eric, to "villrein suger," which, as one Facebook user suggests, is Norwegian for "caribou sucks."

Brewing up controversy: Beaner's Central forced to remove popular espresso drink from menu [Northland Newscenter]
Related: Starbucks Sends Cease and Desist to Brewpub Serving Frappicino Beer, Owner Responds