Coffee and music make one of life’s great pairings. Whether a song enhances that jolt of caffeine or complements the emotions that prompted you to make a cup in the first place, music adds an extra element to your morning (or afternoon or evening) cups of coffee. If your love of music is just as strong as your caffeine addiction, you are not alone. By finding inspiration amongst their coffee grounds, these artists prove that through good times and bad, coffee will always be there for you. Here are 10 songs to make your coffee go down a little smoother.
Electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso’s “Coffee” is as smooth and energetic as the drink itself. The combination of lead singer Amelia Meath’s effortlessly sweet voice and Nick Sanborn’s gentle electronics is superb in this song about literally dancing out your feelings as much as it is about the complexities of relationships. In a clever lyrical moment, Meath uses the changing seasons, and changing coffee styles, to mark the cycles of unsteady relationships: “Wild winter, warm coffee / Mom’s gone, do you love me? / blazing summer, cold coffee / baby’s gone, do you love me?”
For some, cigarettes and coffee is actually one of the greatest pairings in life, which makes this song a trifecta of excellence. Delivered in a way only the legendary performer can, Otis Redding sings of love and sharing life’s simple pleasures. Bringing him “nothing but joy,” Redding spends an early morning with the love of his life, singing, with adoration in his voice, “it seemed so natural, darling / that you and I are here / just talking over cigarettes and drinking coffee.”
Though it has been sung by a variety of artists (including, but not limited to Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, k.d. lang, and Sinéad O’Connor) since it was penned in 1948, the first version of “Black Coffee” from Sarah Vaughan gets the spot on this list. Full of longing, Vaughan cries out to her absent lover and bides her time drinking black coffee in this sultry number.
Like a shot of espresso, “Coffee Mug” from California punk heavyweights Descendentsis a small but powerful bolt of energy. Clocking in at only 34 seconds, the band’s blazing-fast ode to coffee captures how serious your love of coffee is. “I don’t need no booze or drugs / I just chug-a-lug-o my coffee mug,” they howl. It’s he perfect get-up-and-go companion to your morning fix.
Miguel’s “Coffee” is easily the sexiest song on this list. A cut from his standout 2015 record Wildheart, “Coffee” isn’t really about coffee so much as it is about sex, particularly sex in the morning. Hazy by the light electronic work and dripping with devotion, Miguel’s coffee metaphor is deliciously clever as he croons, “and pillow talk turns into sweet dreams / sweet dreams turns into coffee in the morning.” “Coffee” is a smooth listen whether you’re drinking actual coffee or participating in a different morning activity.
From his 1976 album Desire, Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee” tells the story of a man who must leave his lover behind to go “to the valley below.” Before parting ways, Dylan’s narrator insists on having “one more cup of coffee for the road / one more cup of coffee before I go,” making it ideal for a lazy coffee-filled Sunday morning before going back to the work (not coffee) grind.
From their shaky 2001 album Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, The Cranberries are all power in their title track. Centered around Dolores O’Riordan’s struggles with motherhood, “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” also captures the universal challenges of getting through the tough stuff in life and energetically telling listeners to wake up, shut up, and smell the coffee.
Unlike some of the songs on this list where coffee is a euphemism for something else, Frank Sinatra really sings about coffee in “The Coffee Song.” In this lighthearted romp, Sinatra—with that delectable voice—concludes, “They’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.” Exaggerations aside, according to Sinatra, “they could percolate the ocean in Brazil.” Even Stateside, “The Coffee Song” will get you dancing while you wait for your coffee to brew.
Country veterans Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell craft a bluesy ode to coffee in their Grammy award-winning collaborative record Old Yellow Moon. Coffee addicts will relate to this very sincere ode to joe, particularly identifying with this verse: “I’m sound in body, I’m sound in mind / until it comes to my coffee time / don’t stand in my way, don’t hold me back / just keep it hot and keep it black.”
Gordon Lightfoot’s narrator tries to stave off pain with multiple cups of coffee in this early ‘70s gem. The sadness in Lightfoot’s lyrics—“I’m on my second cup of coffee and I still can’t face the dawn”—paired with his distinct vocals are so powerful you can almost smell the coffee he describes. Also the fact that Lightfoot’s narrator is drinking coffee while “the radio is playing a soft country song” proves how perfectly coffee goes with this tune.