No more Black Rifle Coffee!
In the early moments of the insurrection on Capitol Hill, there was a way to see it as something of a joke—a serious one with important consequences, but still just a bunch of underdressed or over-costumed rubes who wanted to steal souvenirs and take selfies in Nancy Pelosi’s office. As details trickled in, it looked less and less funny. A rioter had been shot and killed by Capitol Police. Others beat an officer who later died of his injuries. Pipe bombs emerged. And photos circulated of a man carrying zip ties, as though he planned to take hostages.
The man, later identified as Eric Gavelek Munchel, was documented by Getty photographer Win McNamee wearing mostly black, a combo of body armor, camo tactical shirt and pants, and a balaclava, looking like a real-life recreation of a video game character from Call of Duty. Also on his head was a cap with the silhouette of an assault rifle laid over an American flag—a hat created by a brand called Black Rifle Coffee Company.
The odds of someone wearing any single brand’s clothing in a viral photograph that could live on in history books is very low. But unlikely as that is, it was not the first time a right-wing alleged lawbreaker went viral while wearing Black Rifle Coffee Company clothing; it wasn’t even the first time in the past year. On November 20, a photo of Kyle Rittenhouse, who in August shot and killed two people and injured one during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, went viral, showing him wearing a Black Rifle Coffee Company T-shirt.
Black Rifle is, at its heart, a coffee company. But unlike the vast majority of coffee companies, it markets its beans with a highly militaristic branding that leans on gun-heavy, special-ops themed photoshoots with goofy product placement. Of course, guns and coffee don’t really have a lot in common. A shooting range session might leave you amped like back-to-back espressos, but that’s about it. One is a liquid and the other is a gun. You drink one, and you fire bullets at over 1,000 miles an hour out of the other. They aren’t even strange bedfellows—they are two separate things that Black Rifle Coffee Company has smashed together.