Humans have been drinking coffee for centuries—and today, it is one of the most widely-consumed drinks in the world, with more than two billion cups drunk every day.
These 21 songs are about the all-important coffee bean and the meaning that it brings to the morning.
1. Cup of Coffee — Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash’s 1966 song Cup Of Coffee is a country tune about old friends getting together to catch up over a cup of joe. The narrator is a trucker on a route with some grain, but he has a stop near an old friend and looks forward to stopping by.
He doesn’t want to have an alcoholic drink because he has to get back on the road, but it’s not necessary. It just goes to show that coffee is our society’s way of coming together to catch up on life.
Recommended: Our list of the top Johnny Cash songs ever
2. One Cup of Coffee — Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bob Marley’s 1962 ska single One Cup Of Coffee isn’t widely known, having been somewhat overshadowed by the later accomplishments of his career. The song tells the story of a couple going through a divorce and compares aspects of their marriage to the drink.
The sweetness and warmth are like the moments they laid in each other’s arms, but now, it has come down to a final cup while signing their divorce papers. It’s a brilliant way to show how much can be said in the simple ritual of making coffee.
3. One More Cup of Coffee — Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s One More Cup Of Coffee is another song that uses coffee as a means of two former lovers saying farewell for the last time. On its surface, it seems like a simple breakup track, but the lyrics interweave fantastical imagery of a royal father and a sister who can predict the future.
He has said that the song was inspired by his experiences of celebrations with the Roma people in France in the 1970s. Country star Emmylou Harris provided the track’s sweet backup vocals.
4. You’re The Cream in my Coffee — Nat King Cole
How do you let someone know that they’re both a comfort and a fixture of their day? If you’re Nat King Cole, you say “you’re the cream in my coffee.” There’s so much communicated in that simple phrase, which tells the narrator’s beloved that they make his day just a little bit better.
The song was composed in 1928 and has been covered by countless singers in the time since then. Though some of the lyrics aren’t as relatable to modern audiences—“You’re the starch in my collar” doesn’t apply as much these days—the main message is still just as clear as it was in the 1920s.
5. The Coffee Song — Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra recorded The Coffee Song in 1946, a joking parody of the Brazilian coffee industry. The track describes how in Brazil, coffee grows in such abundance that they drink nothing else. It’s meant to be playful, with silly references to a politician’s daughter who was fined for drinking water instead of coffee and how even the ketchup is made with coffee.
And while those claims are obviously exaggerated, it is true that Brazil is the leading producer of coffee beans—nearly a century after Sinatra’s recording, the country still exports 40 percent of the world’s coffee!
6. Coffee Homeground — Kate Bush
Kate Bush’s 1978 song Coffee Homeground will appeal to modern true crime junkies. The track is written from the perspective of someone who believes a killer is trying to poison them, so they evade the effort by refusing the killer’s home-ground coffee. They claim it smells like almonds, a sign of cyanide. But is it a real murder attempt or is the narrator just paranoid?
Bush said the song was inspired by a cab driver she met who believed that people were out to get him by poisoning his drinks.
7. Cold Coffee — Ed Sheeran
Nat King Cole compared a happy relationship to a hot cup of coffee with cream. Decades later, Ed Sheeran flipped the metaphor by comparing a lover to a cold cup of coffee after a night of drinking. The metaphor is open to interpretation: is he saying that the “shivers” she causes are because he’s in love with her, or is he likening her effect to something sobering and chilling because their relationship is falling apart?
Fans have plenty of their own theories, with some calling it a love song and others saying it’s the tale of a relationship at its end.
8. Coffee Shop — Red Hot Chili Peppers
They say a coffee shop is a great place to meet people, but this 1995 song from Red Hot Chili Peppers is a bit stranger than the title would suggest. The track follows a narrator who is lonely and looking for a potential date. They reach out to someone asking if they’d be interested in meeting up in a local coffee shop to connect, and then going home for a hookup.
The upbeat song is proof that a coffee shop is, indeed, a place where all kinds of meetups can happen.
9. Black Coffee — Ella Fitzgerald
Black Coffee is a classic blues song composed in the 1940s. It describes a woman waiting for her lover to come back to her. While she waits, she passes the time by smoking cigarettes and drinking black coffee. The bitter taste of the nicotine and unsweetened coffee remind her of the bitterness of her love life, with her hope gradually waning. Nevertheless, she continues the ritual to distract herself.
At the end of the track, there is still no sign of her lover coming home, and we never get an answer.
10. Cigarettes And Coffee — Otis Redding
Otis Redding’s career didn’t take off until the release of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, recorded just days before the singer’s death in a plane crash. His song Cigarettes And Coffee isn’t as well-known; it was released two years earlier and features a funky soul beat. The track is about sitting up with your lover in the wee hours of the morning, talking over cigarettes and coffee. The little-known song of his career is a sweet memorialization of a quiet moment in the kitchen.
11. Taylor, The Latte Boy — Kristin Chenoweth
Have you ever had a crush on your local barista? It’s an easy thing to happen, especially if you see each other every day. In her song Taylor, The Latte Boy, Broadway queen Kristin Chenoweth shares a goofy but heartwarming story of a romance blooming in a coffee shop. Taylor sends his signals by inviting the narrator to come see his band play and even upgrading her double latte to a triple at no extra charge. Coffee has never seemed so sexy.
12. Coffee And TV — Blur
Blur’s 1999 song Coffee And TV became a hit for more reasons than one. At its heart, it’s a track about a narrator using coffee and TV to help himself relax so he doesn’t relapse into alcohol abuse. It’s a better habit than drinking to excess—and one that frontman Graham Coxon used to help inspire him to write songs. The track became famous for its music video, which featured an animated milk carton named Milky on a quest to find Coxon.
13. 40 Cups of Coffee — Ella Mae Morse
Apparently, before the age of the internet, drinking coffee was what people did while waiting for their lover to come home. Ella Mae Morse’s 1953 song 40 Cups Of Coffee describes sitting up all night drinking cup after cup and wondering where he could be.
Unlike Ella Fitzgerald’s track, however, Morse’s has a happy ending—sort of. The singer’s man finally comes home at a quarter to five in the morning. At least that coffee will give her energy for the massive fight they’ll have.
14. The Coffee Song — Cream
British band Cream had many hits during their time and notably launched the careers of Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. One of their early tracks was the 1966 The Coffee Song, a melancholy story about lovers who were parted. One of them leaves a note in the restaurant where they met, hoping to make the connection once again.
Their main memory of the day was how delicious the coffee was during their date. However, we never find out if they manage to reconnect or if the taste of the coffee is the only memory they get to hold onto.
15. Coffee Mug — Descendents
Of all the songs about coffee, this 1996 track from The Descendents certainly leaves an impression—and all in less than 30 seconds. The track is a rapid-fire ode to coffee, perhaps emulating the caffeine jolt it provides. It certainly has a manic feeling to it, fueled by silly lyrics such as “I just chug-a-lug o my coffee mug” and “Here a bean, there a bean, Everywhere a mean mean.” Some people get REALLY hyper once they’ve had a cup or two—or more.
16. Coffee Shop — Yung Joc Feat. Gorilla Zoe
Yung Joc’s hip hop song Coffee Shop portrays a barista who is selling coffee in the front of the shop and everything else—legal and illegal—in the back. The track makes the point that even your local cafe could be a front for other types of shady businesses. It struck a chord with audiences and placed on the Billboard Hot 100, with critics praising its unique fusion of hip hop culture and the morning cafe vibe.
17. Cup of Coffee — Garbage
Garbage wasn’t necessarily known for writing sad songs, but Cup Of Coffee really takes the cake. The members have said that it’s the most tear-jerking track they’ve ever written. It is a reflection on the end of a relationship, beginning with the heartbreaking lines “You tell me you don’t love me, Over a cup of coffee.” It seems that a cup of coffee can be the centerpiece for some of life’s biggest moments, both good and bad.
18. Black Coffee in Bed — Squeeze
Black Coffee In Bed is a testament to how small things can hold big memories. In this case, the song was inspired by the sight of a coffee stain on a bedside notebook. This is referenced explicitly in the opening line as the narrator recalls drinking coffee in bed with a person that he loved, who seems not to be a part of his life any longer. He can’t help but keep returning to that coffee stain because it reminds him of a happy and intimate memory.
19. Java Jive — The Ink Spots
Java Jive by The Ink Spots is one of those songs that you’ve probably heard many times before, even if you don’t know who sings it. There has never been such an enthusiastic ode to the joys of coffee—though tea gets a mention as well.
We’ll be honest, the whole track sounds like it was sung by someone in the throes of a caffeine fit. It was recorded back in 1940, which goes to show that our love affair with coffee is nothing new.
20. Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop — Landon Pigg
There’s nothing like visiting your favorite coffee shop. It might be the ambiance, the music, the decor, or just the taste of the coffee itself that makes it just right for you. But Landon Pigg’s sweet acoustic ballad follows the narrator’s realization of what made his own local coffee shop so special. It wasn’t anything about the building itself—it was that it had been the place where he fell in love.
21. COFFEE — Kelly Rowland
Kelly Rowland’s 2020 track comes out the gate strong, with descriptions of coffee in bed followed by morning sex. The song is decidedly sex-themed, drawing comparisons between different options for getting energized for the day. Everybody has the thing that works for them, and for some people, a cup of coffee just doesn’t cut it.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.