Ana Gasteyer loves coffee. So much so that when we called her to ask about her new album and her version of the classic novelty song “Proper Cup of Coffee”, we quickly found out that this Saturday Night Live alum had a lot to say about the subject—probably because she drinks many cups a day, just one of the enlivening factors in our very caffeinated conversation with this talented actor, comedian, and singer.
Gasteyer recently released “I’m Hip”, and album of jazzy standards, covers, and novelty songs that even includes a version of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”. Gasteyer’s charming musicality, considerable pipes, and irreverent humor make her an entertaining and versatile performer—one who, let's be honest—could do it all without the coffee, but maybe not as quickly. We spoke with Gasteyer for a glimpse into her caffeinated muses.
How much coffee do you drink?
I drink a lot of coffee. I drink a passionate four cups a day I would say.
Do you make coffee at home?
I have a Nespresso maker and a Keurig and a regular Cuisinart Coffee maker.
What’s the coffee situation when you are on the sets like Suburgatory?
I have a very specific use for the Keurig, which is, I like it when I am working, specifically when I am shooting. It is so weird and Pavlovian, but movie trailers and makeup trailers tend to have Keurig machines because they are really easy to maintain. So I have this very Pavlovian relationship with a Keurig pod. When I am working, girls tend to get called very early in the morning. So as a girl with long hair, especially when I am working on Suburgatory, Monday calls were always 4:30am. It’s really early. So I have a very specific need for that coffee in those situations.
Living in Brooklyn do you ever go to any of the specialty coffee bars in your neighborhood?
I do a go to Brooklyn Roasting a lot. I really love it and give their coffee as a gift. I like the process and the flavor, but I get a little…it’s sort of like wine people, they start talking about mouth feel. I get a little overwhelmed by, I don’t know, cold pressed this and that. The lingo. But I do like the flavor very much of a lot of the Brooklyn Roasting Company coffees. I find them not overly acidic or oppressive. I try to pick the little guys as often as possible even though there is a Starbucks on the corner and I have a gold card membership with them.
Do you drink extra coffee before a show or do you switch to whisky?
Actually before and during the show I have a whisky and tea combo depending where I am at vocally. My song “One Mint Julep” opens the show and I am all about the whisky. I find whisky to be a satisfying alcohol for vocals because it is warm and cozy before a show.
Do you have other favorite coffee rituals?
At Fire Island at the beach in the summertime, I have an old school percolator there. I make something straight ahead like Dunkin Donuts or Chock Full o’Nuts when I am out there. And it’s fantastic. The coffee is super good. I don’t know what the deal is. It might be the water. It might be that. I like the way percolators brew coffee quite a bit.
Do you have a surprising place that you go for a ‘proper cup of coffee’?
The other place I really love coffee that is super unlikely, that I always have to order coffee is Ikea. I don’t know what the deal is, but Ikea makes a good cup of coffee. When you need to take that break, which everybody does, the Ikea break, before you have the Ikea fight, which is also well documented, you avert all problems by having a nice cup of coffee together.
When did you first hear the song “Proper Cup of Coffee”?
I knew the Andrews Sisters version, but where I really came to know it was my daughter’s first grade class sang it. She has an awesome music teacher. He always picks really fun songs. They did mostly as a tongue twister. I was in the process of brainstorming songs for an act I was doing at the moment. I love novelty songs.
Why did you want to include the song in your new album “I’m Hip”?
The song was written at the turn of the century. Then the Andrews Sisters did it. I love it. It is actually an emotionally based song for me. I love coffee so much. I am embarrassed to say that I have actually had the thought that I would not want to go to prison because I would be so sad about the coffee situation, which I realize misses the larger point of what sucks about prison. But I do want to say, my morning ritual, I will never give it up. I drank a pretty solid 3 to 4 cups through both pregnancies. I drank it while nursing babies. I really love coffee. Having my first cup is profoundly…it is super sensual to me. It is an amazingly important kick-off to whether a day is going to go well or not.
In the song there are a lot of threats for situations where you don’t get good coffee. What lengths have you gone to for a good and proper cup of coffee?
When I am on a set the generic catering watery coffee or jury duty coffee, it’s not worth it any more. I’ll just skip it. It makes me too sad. My parents make really watery coffee. We have to covertly sneak behind my parents’ backs. They prep the coffee before they go to bed. Then my husband goes back down and fortifies it, when they are not looking, so it is not so terrible. It’s a constant conversation. That’s the length I go to, I openly deceive my parents. It’s not a very nice thing to do.
Does that make your husband your coffee superhero or knight in shining armor?
I tell this story in my show. This is one of the reasons that I love this song and find it to be so compelling. My husband and I have different clocks, as people can in relationships. I am more of a night person and he is more of a morning person. He wakes up more automatically. He brings me coffee as often as he can and put it next to the bed. It is the most romantic gesture ever. I think it is probably the nicest thing you could do for somebody.
Will you be singing “Proper Cup of Coffee” at your upcoming show at Largo in Los Angeles?
Absolutely. We had a really good time with the ridiculous radio play part when we recorded it. Do you remember the Sanka commercials from the 70s? I’ve always thought they were super funny. We actually lifted that, “Sorry caffeine makes me tense” out of the vocal in the Sanka commercial. One of my favorite things on the record was to somehow convince my producer that that was the funniest commercial in the entire world and have him let me do all of the voices. I love the song. Nothing would make me happier that walking into a coffee shop and hear the song playing. Then I would know I had arrived.
Julie Wolfson is a Sprudge.com desk writer based in Los Angeles. Read more Julie Wolfson on Sprudge.