Category Archives: coffee

Music and Medicine

Titrated Doses

I drank coffee in titrated doses. It was a tricky business, requiring the finely tuned judgment of a skilled anesthesiologist. There was a tiny range within which coffee was effective, short of which it was useless, and beyond which, fatal.

—Annie Dillard

(Via Wesley Hill.)

Your Dad Doesn’t Know What a Latte Is

Your dad drank coffee before you did. He has been drinking since before Starbucks was a small Seattle coffee shop and long before you stopped drinking Starbucks because it was ‘too mainstream.’ His cups were strong, each sip was an eye jolting, bitch slap to drowsy that firmly signified work was about to begin. You hipsters couldn’t sip from the same mug as your father. Your coffee is sweetened with unrefined sugar from a fair trade farm in small town South America where the workers are paid a living wage. His was black. You top off your lattes with a non-fat, non-dairy, soy, vegan foam. Your dad doesn’t know what a fucking latte is, nor does he give a shit to find out. He drank coffee to wake up, not so he could have a free place to steal internet while bitching about all the political change that needs to happen. So hipsters, next time you want to be a perennial bad-ass, reach for some Folgers and harden the fuck up.

Dads: The Original Hipsters

Coffee Is for Writers

I don’t get people who don’t like coffee, and I distrust writers who don’t drink it. How can anyone be a writer without coffee? … Coffee has been an essential tool of almost all the greatest modern writers, and certainly of the most prolific ones. Voltaire reportedly drank 50 cups a day (and I’ve seen estimates as high as 72 cups a day). Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote what amounted to a love letter about freshly roasted coffee. Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, loved coffee almost as much as they loved cocaine (Holmes: ‘A cup of coffee would clear my brain’). Anthony Trollope, admirably disciplined, rose every morning at exactly 5:00 and drank his coffee before writing for three hours, after which he went to work at the post office. Edgar Allan Poe drank coffee by the gallon (the tell-tale heart’s pounding: conscience or caffeine overdose?). Maigret’s creator, Georges Simenon, could write a detective novel in three days on the power of his bottomless coffee cup. Beethoven loved his coffee strong, and Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated a sonata (BMV 211) to the glories of coffee.

Joseph Finder


A Cup of Coffee

One should not underestimate the role of coffee in the bourgeois social imaginary. The specific rituals and behaviours of commensality that have emerged around coffee drinking do seem to occupy a special place in bourgeois life: coffee does not intoxicate, it is even conducive to labour, but one must still take a short break to consume it; the conversation that accompanies coffee consumption can range from the banal to the serious, but it never takes place among irreconcilable enemies and tends to present itself as an opportunity to neutralize noxious conflicts; it is pleasant to have coffee with others, and yet the act of drinking it is not an essentially collective enterprise, and hence does not violate the idea of a society of neatly separable atoms. The coffeehouse or the café is thus the site where the bourgeoisie has, throughout its history, shown that it can conceive of a kind of human interaction that, in a minimal fashion, transcends the contacts necessary for purely economic transactions. One can say that bourgeois society allows for at least one place where community appears as something other than the secondary and somewhat mysterious effect of the pursuit of individual self-interest. We can converse, for a while, over a cup of coffee.

Jakob Norberg

A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee


Sugar Rush

For seven years I ate at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee – with lots of sugar. And there’s lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It’s a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob’s.

—David Lynch