Something truly terrible happened to me recently. In a fit of counting amidst the throes of laundry, I realized that I now owned more coffee tees than band shirts, causing in me a very real and none too pleasant existential crisis. Like most twenty-something males and—woefully more precise—thirty-something man-children, an entire identity statement can be formulated, tested, and ultimately concluded upon based solely on the frequency of the subject matter in my t-shirt collection, and as such, the shift of power from music to coffee was the bellwether of a similar shift in my life. As a person who still considered himself a musician, though “dormant musician” is still probably too generous a descriptor, I was understandably dumbstruck by the ontological gut-punch of who I now was, and more importantly, who I now wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, being a coffee guy is pretty great, and my version of being a coffee guy gets to include travel and writing, which is stellar. But I’d wager most people want to have a more active role in constructing their own persons, to Make Yourself, as Incubus once pleaded, and I am no different. And while you can’t change who you are, you can buy a ton of new shirts with ambiguous subject matter to gerrymander the results in your favor. And so we petulantly beat on, borne ceaselessly into our past selves with these coffee-music mashup shirts, ready to ameliorate any existential flare ups.
Black Coffee, Black Flag
The shirt: Punk rock has a pretty rich iconography, and the Black Flag logo from which this design is derived is possibly the most powerful. It’s simple, blatant, and a bit dangerous. There have been a few hot-coffee-takes on this logo with various amounts of flourish, but the original and most straightforward interpretation is still the best.
Best worn while: Shredding an empty pool in Southern California. Jean shorts and knee pads not included.
Pour Over, Joy Division
The shirt: While I consider myself to be pre-post-punk, I can still appreciate this Joy Division-inspired design by Department of Brewology, the Austin-based designer behind that crazy intricate World Aeropress Championship sign.
Best worn while: Rifling through vinyl while discussing b-sides and sipping espresso from a pop-up on Record Store Day.
Steamy Milo, the Descendents
The shirt: From the seminal nerd-punk band the Descendents, a self-described “coffee’d-out blend of rock-surf-pop-punk music.” The Descendents and their logo/mascot Milo, depicted here as a pot of coffee, are equal parts angst, humor, caffeine, and fear of growing old. It’s almost a little too on the nose.
Best worn at: A shitty diner at 2am, drinking stale coffee and smoking cigarettes with old college friends, just like you used to do years ago, proving you’re still the same cool idealist and are in no way aging.
Drink Coffee & Destroy, Bouncing Souls
The shirt: Listen, I get it, most people have outgrown punk rock. But if you can just get over yourself for like two seconds and go see these guys live—they are still touring BTW—then you’ll have one of the most fun nights of your life. Slam some coffee, shoot down some shots, and get in the circle pit. And just because you’re into punk doesn’t mean you can’t be a hopeless romantic.
Best worn at: A pub, with an arm around a drinking buddy, sloshing beers and singing anthemic 90’s punk tunes.
Hail Satan Drink Coffee
The shirt: While not, strictly speaking, a band shirt, there’s little doubt that this is the most metal coffee shirt in existence. Modeled after a Ouija board (which, let’s face it, is the Acaia of demonic board games, spelling-wise), this is the perfect accoutrement for conjuring a familiar to do all the production roasting grunt work. Blackcraft, the makers of this shirt, also have some pretty adorable Lucipurr kitten mugs.
Best worn at: Anywhere ironic devil worship is appreciated.
Brew Tang Clan, Wu-Tang Clan
The shirt: Ain’t nothing ta puck wit. This is pretty much a perfect coffee/hip-hop mashup. The pun, the logo, the “coffee rules everything around me” on the back. The execution is flawless.
Best worn: It’s never a good idea to wear this t-shirt.
Coffee and Cigarettes
The shirt: It’s kind of like the last one, but now with more Bill Murray. Sure, it’s a still from Coffee and Cigarettes and thus, not actually about coffee. And yes, the Wu aren’t shown here in any musical capacity, but instead as actors. But if you can’t get down with a shirt that has the RZA, the GZA, and American treasure Bill Murray, then you can stop reading right here; this article isn’t for you and we can never be in the same room.
Best worn at: The opening of a black and white art film at an indie theatre, where an entirely different type of street cred is required.
The shirt: Sweet, sweet coffee. It’s the fuel that allows us to soar where eagles dare. Now it’s time to celebrate that fact with this Fiend, the moniker given to a Misfits fan, shirt. The devilock, the “world’s greatest dead” mug (a pun within a pun)—it’s a pretty spot-on depiction of exactly how Glenn Danzig, a man pricklier than a siphon pot, takes his coffee.
Best worn while: Throwing a Danzig-level temper tantrum over your cappuccino being slightly too hot for your liking.
Every Drop Counts, No Sleep Records
The shirt: Why wear a shirt for just one band when you can rep an entire label? No Sleep is home to some big names in various underground music scenes, and coffee is pretty intricately woven into their entire design aesthetic. If their “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” ethos is the gun, coffee is the bullet. Bonus: No Sleep is also home to Puig Destroyer, the greatest baseball/grindcore mashup to ever exist.
Best worn at: A post-hardcore show in a random Chicago basement.
Sprudge Metal Shirt
The shirt: Ok ok, it’s not really a band shirt, but it looks like one from far away. I mean really, who can even read anything written in the black metal script anyway? As best I can tell, every t-shirt for a black metal band says “Sprudge” on it.
Best worn: Anywhere. Literally anywhere.
Zac Cadwalader is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Dallas, Texas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
Top image via Prince William County.