I like coffee, I like Coffee A LOT. I probably drink too much of it, if such a thing is possible, it starts and often ends my day and is liberally sprinkled throughout my waking hours.
I am not alone, our lives are filled with coffee and sometimes defined by the occasions when we drink it. It is the lubrication for dates, breakups, job interviews and so many other important moments.
It is a stimulant and a creative aid. It keeps us fuelled while we create great art and also provides a subject to muse upon. While it isn’t as popular a theme as love, heartbreak, drugs or sex, it is the topic of many amazing songs. Some are happy, many are not, some are bouncy little ditties, but many of the best sad introspective songs are full of coffee references.
It isn’t just musicians, all sorts of creativity are inspired by the majestic dark brew, film directors sometimes pay homage to it as well. If you haven’t seen Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 anthology Coffee & Cigarettes then it is worth checking out.
There are thousands (I don’t know the numbers, I’m just assuming) of songs that are either directly about coffee or feature it heavily in their lyrics and I’m sure that lots of them are great, but these are a few of my favourites. I’ve tried to keep this list relatively short so some of the most famous probably won’t make the cut, there is no Frank Sinatra or Bob Marley, but hey, that’s fine.. it’s all just an opinion. If you disagree with any of these choices or there is an amazing track that you think is a shocking omission then leave a comment and let us know!
One More Cup of Coffee by Bob Dylan / The White Stripes
There are very few things that Bob Dylan can’t or hasn’t written a song about. The original version of One More Cup of Coffee is a duet with Emmylou Harris and tell the story of a gypsy lady and the man who leaves her.
It’s been covered by so many different people but the best versions are Dylan’s original and this one from The White Stripes
Coffee & TV by Blur
It’s an unusual Blur song because it is sung by Graham Coxon and not Damon Albarn, but Albarn takes all of the songwriting credits. According to him the coffee in this song stands for an opportunity to stop, slow down and take breath. Rather than being an energy boost, Albarn believes that there is something quite relaxing about a cup of coffee, I can’t help but agree.
Taylor the Latte Boy by Kristin Chenoweth
Musical theatre really isn’t my thing, but this song makes it onto the list because although it is a bit silly and maybe not the greatest musical achievement, this particular version is also impossibly cute and it just makes me smile!
The best known version is by Susan Egan, but I love this Kristin Chenoweth performance.
Black Coffee – Burke/Webster
There are plenty of songs that are titled Black Coffee. The most famous is probably this one written in 1948 by Sonny Burke and Paul Francis Webster, and performed by lots of people including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Sinead O’Connor and Sarah Vaughan. Sarah’s version is the original and my favourite.
Black Coffee by Carroll Gibbons and Marjorie Stedeford
Yet another song called Black Coffee dating from all the way back in 1935 which is all about how coffee rescues us from the depths of whatever ails us, like a hangover…
In some ways maybe this is the quintessential song about coffee because so much of the time we really do use coffee as an essential crutch to get us up, vaguely awake and capable to face the day.
Cup of Coffee by Garbage
Important life events are often decided over coffee, and they are not always the happiest ones.
“It took a cup of coffee to prove that you don’t love me”
It’s a lyrically heart wrenching song, a clear cry of pain, but apart from anything else, maybe this song makes the list because I spent quite a lot of the 90’s being just a little bit in love with Shirley Manson.
Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega
Everyone knows it and it is hard not to like this gem. It is very literally about the experience and observation of a lady sitting and drinking a cup of coffee alone, watching life go on around her and examining the details.
Interesting(?) note: An a cappella version of this song was the first encoded as an MP3. When he was developing the format Karlheinz Brandenburg used it for testing and tuning the algorithm. In his words: “I knew it would be nearly impossible to compress this warm a cappella voice”
Coffee by Miguel
I don’t know much about Miguel and I’m not a massive fan of most of the tracks I have heard but I just think that this song is lyrically brilliant.
It’s about the development of a relationship, whether it is a one night stand or something longer. It starts with conversation, moves through the point where you can take the piss out of and laugh at each other and yourselves and ends up with coffee in the morning.
Just for the record: Yes, I know that the original released single version was ‘fucking in the morning’ but I think that the coffee version works better.
Woke Up New by The Mountain Goats
Sometimes you just want to drink coffee alone as a private moment but it is also something that you share with friends and lovers. it can be a ritual, a shared experience and then sometimes things end and you have to face the reality of drinking coffee alone…
“The first time I made coffee for just myself,
I made too much of it, but I drank it all,
Just cause you hate it when I let things go to waste.”
Cold Coffee by Ed Sheeran
I’m never really sure how to interpret this song, is it a mushy love song or is it actually about a relationship that is struggling and falling apart. Does comparing someone to ‘cold coffee in the morning’ actually mean they are cold and bitter when what you really want or need is someone or something warm…
The tip of the iceberg
Of course there are so many more songs that could have made the list but didn’t for whatever reason.
Honourable mentions go to Coffee Homeground by Kate Bush, which sounds quite jolly but is really a pretty dark little ditty about someone paranoid about being poisoned, and to Short Double Latte by Combustible Edison, a little slice of bouncy orchestral goodness that checks in at just over 2 minutes.
What do you consider the cream of coffecentric songs? Again, feel free to share in the commments below.