15 Cultural Icons on the Pleasures of Coffee


Artistic coffee addicts the world over were doubtless dismayed to read an article in this week’s New Yorker asserting that their beloved cup of joe might actually be stifling their creativity. Sure, there may be science behind it, but considering how many writers and artists have used the stuff, Flavorwire is not wholly convinced (willful ignorance?). To plead the case, find some coffee-related musings from various creative types after the jump. If you find your favorite missing here, add it to the list in the comments.

“Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring.

This coffee falls into your stomach, a sack whose velvety interior is lined with tapestries of suckers and papillae. The coffee finds nothing else in the sack, and so it attacks these delicate and voluptuous linings; it acts like a food and demands digestive juices; it wrings and twists the stomach for these juices, appealing as a pythoness appeals to her god; it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink – for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.” — Honoré de Balzac

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.” – David Lynch

“I don’t know where my ideas come from. I will admit, however, that one key ingredient is caffeine. I get a couple cups of coffee into me and weird things just start to happen.” – Gary Larson

“I like coffee exceedingly, but relish its imitation Postum just as much.” – H.P. Lovecraft

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” — T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

“The voodoo priest and all his powers were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself.” — Mark Helprin, Memoir from Antproof Case

“If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.” – David Letterman

“Among the numerous luxuries of the table… coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and thee pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions… is never followed by sadness, languor or debility” – Benjamin Franklin

“Strong coffee, much strong coffee, is what awakens me. Coffee gives me warmth, waking, an unusual force and a pain that is not without very great pleasure.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“Coffee is real good when you drink it gives you time to think. It’s a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.” – Gertrude Stein

“Coffee: Induces wit. Good only if it comes through Havre. After a big dinner party it is taken standing up. Take it without sugar — very swank: gives the impression you have lived in the East.” – Gustave Flaubert

“The best Maxim I know in this life is, to drink your Coffee when you can, and when you cannot, to be easy without it. While you continue to be splenetic, count upon it I will always preach. Thus much I sympathise with you that I am not cheerful enough to write, for I believe Coffee once a week is necessary to that.” – Jonathan Swift

“How sweet coffee tastes! Lovlier than a thousand kisses, sweeter than Muscatel wine!” — Johann Sebastian Bach, Coffee Cantata

“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.” — Ronald Reagan

“I never laugh until I’ve had my coffee.” — Clark Gable