Exploring the Poetry of Coffee

by That's Coffee on September 11, 2014

A quiet corner, a steaming cup of coffee, and a book of poetry seems like a perfect retreat for me as these falls days approach.

The other day sitting with a gourmet cup of coffee at my side, I started wondering if there were any renowned coffee poems out there. As I searched for “Coffee Poems” I found one of the most quoted lines of a poem was by TS Elliot, in his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” – “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…”

Coffee has inspired great poets since its introduction to society. They have used coffee as their metaphors for life, love, and the pursuit of the meaning of life, but did they write poetry about coffee? Here’s what I found in my quest for Coffee Poems.

The Earliest Coffee Poems

The earliest Coffee poems sprung from the religious and political persecutions in Mecca. Taken from the article A History of Coffee in Literature  here is an Arabic translation of one of the first coffee poems published

In Praise of Coffee

O coffee! Doved and fragrant drink, thou drivest care away,

The object thou of that man’s wish who studies night and day.

Thou soothest him, thou giv’st him health, and God doth favor those

Who walk straight on in wisdom’s way, nor seek their own repose.

Fragrant as musk thy berry is, yet black as ink in sooth!

And he who sips thy fragrant cup can only know the truth.

Insensate they who, tasting not, yet vilify its use;

For when they thirst and seek its help, God will the gift refuse.

Oh, coffee is our wealth! for see, where’er on earth it grows,

Men live whose aims are noble, true virtues who disclose.

Through its long history coffee has become a beloved drink to every civilized nation on earth and as such the poets have embraced its essence as their own.

Many poems mention coffee, but few are about coffee.

I thought this would be a quick investigation into  Poems about Coffee, but I soon found that although I had read many poems by great poets, there were few poems listed that were specifically about Coffee. In researching coffee, I found the Coffee House was the place of Poets and coffee was an inspiration for metaphors on life and such, but was rarely the topic of the poetry. Yeats, the Irish Poet Laureate of the last century even has a Coffee House dedicated to his memory and poetry, yet I couldn’t find a single poem of his that speaks to coffee!

Here are a few of the poems of this century that have made the list!

The Morning Coffee by Ron Padgett

This is such a fun prose poem describing the ritual of making your morning cup of coffee perfectly! No matter how you make your morning cup of coffee, I’m sure it’s always a “nail you can hang the day on.” I often feel that coffee is “something to do between being asleep and being awake”. And what about your first sip being too hot and the last sip too cold? Padgett compares this to Goldilocks and the Three Bears with the in between sips being “just right” like Little Bear. This poem was written in 2013 so it is a fairly recent work and was published in Collected Poems by Coffee House Press in 2013.

My Uncle’s Favorite Coffee Shop

 This is one of those poems I spoke about when saying that the poets use coffee and the coffee house as a metaphor for life. Published in 1998, Poet, Naomi Shihab Nye uses the coffee shop to embrace the memory of her opinionated uncle’s departure from her life.

Over a cup of coffee

Written by Stephen Dobyns in 2001, this prose or perhaps free verse poem is a wonderful introspection of life using a cup of coffee as a spring board into these musings of life. Dobyns freely wanders from one triggered memory to another, each of which the reader can easily insert his own image into.


Perhaps one of the best finds in this coffee collection. Richard Braughton, ranked in the top 500 poets of the world gives us “Coffee”. The poem is all about coffee, yet is not at all about coffee. The coffee is made and the coffee is consumed, but the meat of the poem is about the periphery of the scene he creates. If you are like me, you will definitely enjoy this read for the nuances that linger long after your last sip of coffee is done.

My Coffee is Finished and so are these Poems

Well, my search has given me some wonderful poems to dwell on, but my coffee is finished and I need to make another pot. After all of this fine verse, I deserve a cup that delights the senses. I need something aromatic with an exotic nutty essence full bodied and bold. Does that sound like a Specialty blend to you?

If you want to find the best gourmet blend to go with your poetry retreat be sure to check out all of our Coffees, including our mellow yet flavorful Coffee Blends.

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