The precious and fortuitous union of coffee and music runs deep—and I don't just mean the fresh pots powering songwriting sessions. Our beloved beverage has shown across genres and generations of musical expression, namechecked in the lyrics, crafted into metaphor, and even splashing out as the song title.
Now the editorial team at Sprudge are ready to share their very favorite coffee songs with you, appearing under the totally serious and not at all joking headline, Coffee Songs: The Definitive All-Time Greatest Ultimate List. These are the songs we love deeply and have connected to (often for very personal reasons) over the years. Each one of these favorite songs has a story behind it, a resonance we connect to, combining a love of music and coffee with a specific work of musical art.
Chances are you've got your own picks for top coffee song. Read this list, and if for some reason you really think we missed something, or want to pick a bone with our expert auratorial curation, share your favorites on Twitter and Instagram—we would genuinely love to hear more about your favorite coffee songs. These are ours!
Coffee – Aesop Rock
It's not exactly about coffee—and following the twists and turns of Aesop Rock's lyrical pathways may only get you tangled up. But this song hits like that first dose of caffeine and ends with the red-eye shot in the form of the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle songbombing the end. Invigorating and great from start to finish. – Liz Clayton
Coffee and TV – Blur
Honestly, I could think of no better—and more literal—song than Blur's 1999 Brit-pop hit. Coffee And TV is a song about Blur frontman Graham Coxon's sobriety—replacing alcohol with, well, coffee and television. Still one of my favorite songs and inarguably one of the best music videos ever made. Still makes me tear up. – Zachary Carlsen
Everybody Here Wants You – Jeff Buckley
In the posthumous follow-up to his perfect (and only true) album Grace, Jeff Buckley’s Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk is a two-disc pastiche of recordings that probably weren’t ever really meant to appear together as a cohesive whole. The songs are a bit all over the place, even for a once-in-a-generation talent not bound by any particular genre. But the album bestowed upon us all Everybody Here Wants You, one of the sexiest slow jams ever written. “29 pearls in your kiss, A singing smile, Coffee smell and lilac skin, Your flame in me.” Simple and evocative, the song is a pure amorous mood. – Zac Cadwalader
Taylor the Latte Boy – Kristin Chenoweth
Unrequited love on both sides of the counter is a tale as old as the service industry has been around. Baristas have their “crushtomers” and customers have favorite baristas, sometimes misinterpreting the heart latte art as something more meaningful. “And he smoothly flipped the lever to prepare my double latte / But for me he made it triple!” This lyric brings me back to my college days when my favorite barista would add that extra shot into my triple mocha, making it a quad, and I’d somehow be completely unaffected by the caffeine when I drank it at 10:30 pm. Kristin is a gem in the musical genre and I love her unique take on this song. – Jenn Chen
Coffee Mug – The Descendents
It would not be hyperbolic to say that this song represents a significant moment in my life. The lead-in track to Epitaph Records’ Punk-O-Rama Vol. 2.1, which came free with the purchase of a pair of Vans at Journey’s—in a mall!—The Descendents’ Coffee Mug solidified punk as more than just a phase, but as a foundational aspect of my very being that now, some two decades later, I’ve stopped trying to grow out of and instead relish in. From the first “mug mug mug,” the song is fast, it’s loud, it’s fun, and most importantly, it’s about coffee. It’s basically everything I want out of life. – Zac Cadwalader
Little Plastic Castle – Ani DiFranco
This song from Ani DiFranco takes me to a very specific place and time— listening to it on repeat with my friend Shey in an old Chevrolet Corsica with a maroon interior. The irony of my distinct memory is that the song is about the exact opposite—folks smarter than me have written at length of DiFranco's criticism of mass culture's replicating effect and its deleterious effects on our memories and experiences (think of the late nineties/early aughts Starbucks aesthetic and how every “coffee shop in every city” looked, felt, smelled exactly the same). Thank god for music planting a stake in our temporal lobe. – Zachary Carlsen
The Nightfly – Donald Fagen
As a Jew from the suburbs approaching middle age, I am contractually obligated to advocate for the music of Donald Fagen. One half (with Walter Becker, RIP) of the songwriting and performing partnership known as Steely Dan, Fagen's solo work is also very good, particularly his 1980 solo album, The Nightfly. The title track on this record contains a verse I've long admired:
“I've got plenty of java, and Chesterfield Kings / But I feel like crying / I wish I had a heart like ice”
In the song, Fagen imagines himself as a late-night radio DJ, taking crackpot calls and playing records—”jazz and conversation”—all the while lost in nostalgia for a past love. The album is a concept record (more or less) based on Fagen's childhood, with themes of 1950s science fiction, jazz, outsiderdom, and the suburban idealization of big-city hipster life. In interviews, he called it by far his most personal work as a songwriter, and wouldn't release another record after it until the early 90s. That line—the phonetics, the hot/cold juxtaposition of coffee with a heart of ice, the scene-setting, the almighty bop of it all—is just a dagger to me. – Jordan Michelman
Coffee Shop (feat. Gorilla Zoe) – Yung Joc
Back in high school when working as a barista was a distant pipe dream, Atlanta's Yung Joc dropped the perfect trap antidote, Coffee Shop. Caffeine is a drug, technically making baristas dealers, and Yung Joc's lyrics should serve as a reminder that your local coffee shop could be a front and you'd never know. The song didn't directly inspire me to pursue a serious career in coffee, but it sure as hell made working at Cartel Coffee Lab all the more amusing. But please listen to the disclaimer at the end of the song: don't do drugs, kids. – Michelle Johnson
9 To 5 – Dolly Parton
We don't really do royalty in America, or sainthood for that matter. But the closest living example in American public life today is Dolly Parton. The hits. The awards. The theme park. And her incredible, long-standing charitable contributions and investments into a long-range of causes benefitting public life. But through all of it, there remains her frankly unmatched skill at songcraft (Parton is perhaps the greatest living American songwriter), a gift of honed expression that transcends genres, boundaries, and decades. “I would say I'm a songwriter first,” she told BMI in 2001, and it's not a surprise that she would be responsible for crafting the Mt. Olympus of coffee as a metaphor. It appears on the global smash hit single “9 To 5”, from the soundtrack to the 1980 film of the same name, in which Parton also stars, and it begins with the untoppable couplet…well, y'all know the one! “Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen / Pour myself a cup of ambition” – Jordan Michelman
Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop – Landon Pigg
I am a lovesick, stare-out-the-window-like-I'm-in-a-music-video hopeless romantic. Even worse, the idea of falling in love with a barista or coffee shop regular speaks to me on such a deep level, it's almost my personal MO at this point. I'd always hoped that my crushtomer came into the shop as often as they did because they felt like what Landon Pigg's lyrics say: “I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much. All of the while I never knew. All of the while… all of the while it was you.” *Deep sigh* I guess for now I'll just have to settle for posting my at-home barista life online and hope my crush asks for coffee recommendations.
Bad Day – Daniel Powter
A one-hit wonder that carried me through my college freshman year, “Bad Day” begins with acoustic piano (a weakness of mine) and relatable lyrics like “Stand in the line just to hit a new low / You’re faking a smile with the coffee to go.” I had even purchased the sheet music to learn on the slightly out-of-tune piano in my dorm’s common room. In hindsight, I was a little depressed but at least this song helped lift me up just a little bit. – Jenn Chen
Black Coffee in Bed – Squeeze
We could all use a bounce-back anthem right about now, and Squeeze's classic Black Coffee in Bed is just that. Ok—it's not the strongest single on the 45 and Under collection, but that's only because Squeeze sets the bar so high for hook-y new wave. I still love this one, and it absolutely 100% makes me want to drink a cup of black coffee in bed (if not go cruising the singles bars, maybe not that.) – Liz Clayton
Listen to the full playlist available on Spotify: