Caf-Pow is a high energy-caffeine drink that NCIS Forensic Scientist Abigail Sciuto is regularly seen drinking as it's her favorite brand of drink and it also gives her the caffeine high she gets from it as it helps her get through the day while completing the many tasks she has to do.
Sometimes Timothy McGee drinks it alongside Abby when they're working together in the lab.
Abby keeps an extra one in the lab refrigerator if she needs it as seen in the Season 3 episode, "Jeopardy" when upon asking Tony where her Caf-Pow is, he replies that she'll have to work caffeine-free because they're in a time-crunch but Abby later produces a spare for herself while also also announcing that like Gibbs, she has her own set of rules.
Nutmeg was added to the drink during the Christmas season much to Abby's disgust which was revealed in the Season 6 episode, Silent Night (episode).
In the Season 3 episode, Deception (episode), Gibbs is shown to dislike Caf-Pow. He samples Abby's cup when she gives it to him and subsequently spits it back out into the cup before setting it back where he got it.
In the Season 7 premiere episode, Truth or Consequences (episode) Caf-Pow proved instrumental in tracking the terrorists holding Ziva because their leader had developed a fondness for the beverage while attending Yale University. McGee and Abby were able to pinpoint the location of the camp by tracking the shipments of Caf-Pow delivered to the terrorists, which later led to McGee and Tony being taken hostage and eventually ending with their captor being shot dead by Gibbs. McGee and Tony escaped to safety with Ziva, who they had discovered was actually alive.
In the Season 7 episode, Faith (episode), Abby has Caf-Nog, Caf-Pow mixed with egg-nog, and in Endgame (episode), Leroy Jethro Gibbs tries to treat her with some Caf-Pow, although she declines, saying "It's too late, I can't...". He then proceeded to hand her an equally-large cup of "No-Caf-Pow" much to her joy.
In the Season 7 episode, "Borderland", a mini version of the Caf-Pow appeared.
So far, there have been four different varieties of Caf-Pow:
- Caf-Pow- Has made regular appearances through the series. Is a red cup with bloodshot eyes on the front of the cup and is filled with a caffeine substance.
- No-Caf-Pow- Abby begins drinking this non caffeine version when she gives up consuming caffeine altogether and is even seen using in later episodes. According to her, the slogan is "No caf-pow, no kick", meaning that it's regular Caf-Pow without the caffeine high.
- Christmas Caf-Pow (with nutmeg added) which appeared in "Silent Night".
- Valentine's Day Caf-Pow (which contained a heart on the straw saying "I love you") which appeared in Friends and Lovers (episode).
According to Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto on the show, the cups serving as Caf-Pow were originally filled with Hawaiian Punch but when Perrette stopped consuming refined sugar, unsweetened cranberry juice was used instead and is supposedly used to this day.
Instead of filling up the Caf-Pow cup directly, an aluminium can of the beverage was put inside it.
According to Doug Reilly, a graphic artist for NCIS, the cups originally had clear lids. This made them look empty so red lighting gel was taped inside to give the appearance of a drink level.
This process was very time consuming so the lids were eventually painted (Red for Caf-Pow, Blue for No-Caf-Pow and Christmas Caf-Pow, and pink for Valentine's Day Caf-Pow).