The poet Shelley once called it “the browned juicings of that naughty bean we call coffee” (well, in Blackadder The Third, anyway). The Oromo people of Northeast Africa believe the first coffee bush grew after God’s tears fell on the corpse of a dead sorcerer. It’s been an inspiration on musicians since at least the early 18th century, when Bach wrote his Coffee Cantata, a mini-opera featuring the line ‘If I couldn’t, three times a day, be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee, in my anguish I will turn into a shrivelled-up roast goat’. Here are 10 more hits of coffee inspiration to get you up in the morning.
10. ANTHRAX – Cupajoe
A brief blast of jittery fun from the New Yorkers’ 1998 curios Volume 8: The Threat Is Real, with desperate-for-caffeine vocals by Scott Ian. Drummer/songwriter Charlie Benante is so coffee-obsessed he launched his own Benante’s Blend last year, available in Be All End All and Forever Metal blends, plus coffee-scented air fresheners.
9. JIMMY EAT WORLD – Coffee And Cigarettes
There’s a wistful melancholy to the simple but memorable melodies in this song about a guy moving out west, looking back on the life he’s leaving behind: ‘Of all the things I think I’ll miss, there’s staying up with you, coffee and cigarettes.’ Surely they still have coffee out west?
8. GNARWOLVES – Coffee
‘I’ll sleep when I’m old, coffee and cold,’ sings frontman Thom on this two-and-a-half minute burst of “gruff pop-punk” from the self-proclaimed “Cornish boys in Brighton”. It’s not entirely clear what the second bit means, but they’ve taken the first bit seriously, gigging and recording relentlessly since their formation in 2011.
7. MACABRE – How ‘Bout Some Coffee
Since 1984, Illinois ‘murder metal’ trio Macabre have documented harrowing true crime incidents with zany bad-taste humour and celebratory zeal. From their narrative concept album about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, this is their deranged death metal take on the theme, concerning a man who escaped Dahmer after drinking drugged coffee.
6. RIVAL SONS – Black Coffee
An excellent 2015 cover of Humble Pie’s excellent 1973 cover of an excellent 1972 original by Ike and Tina Turner. The song’s ‘coffee as ethnicity’ metaphor and black pride sentiment had to be re-angled for white musicians; a fairly cringeworthy task, but a killer tune’s a killer tune.
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5. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Coffee Shop
A focused burst of fat-free funk rock in which Anthony Kiedis implores, ‘Meet me at the coffee shop/We can dance like Iggy Pop’. Which might be all well and good in LA in 1995, but you try flailing around topless in your local Costa, see how far you get.
4. LAGWAGON – Mr Coffee
This SoCal quintet picked up the punk rock coffee-head gauntlet from Descendents in 1992, albeit with a misleadingly placid intro, a load more heavy metal influences and a cheeky tip of the hat to Mighty Mouse: ‘Here I come to save the day, on legal speed (the American way).’
3. GOATSNAKE – Coffee And Whiskey
Stream-of-consciousness blues jams are rarely described as ‘catchy’, but you’ll have the words ‘coffee, whiskey, till the cows come home’ stuck in your head all week after hearing this. Drummer Greg Rogers revealed the song’s mysterious creative process to doomedandstoned.com: “I don’t recall us putting that much thought to it.”
2. DESCENDENTS – Coffee Mug
Half a minute of caffeinated fury, the Coffee Mug sound was born out of the band’s unique ‘Bonus Cup’ songwriting method: “We took one third of a cup of instant coffee grounds, added some hot water, threw in about five spoonfuls of sugar, and proceeded to play 10 second songs,” explained drummer Bill Stevenson.
1. BLACK FLAG – Black Coffee
One of the most intense songs on one of the most intense albums by one of the most intense punk bands, many think this song is actually about heroin. However, Flag bassist Kira Roessler attests that “amphetamines didn’t fuel any of the 48-hour studio lock-ins, nor any of the all-night drives. Just plenty of black coffee.”