Coffee in Pop Culture

If you spend 60 seconds on Pinterest, you are almost guaranteed to see some sort of clever meme about coffee and the role it plays in our lives. If you watch television, you can probably recite 3 catchy coffee slogans. Magazines on newsstands are filled with pictures of celebrities grabbing a cup of joe. What is it about this delicious beverage that causes its presence to be so dominant in pop culture? Maybe it is the universality of the morning brewing ritual or the way caffeine makes us feel, or how sharing a cup of coffee can bring people closer together. We’ve rounded up a list of our favorite coffee lovers who helped make our beloved drink the icon it is today.

Johann Sebastian Bach:

J.S. Bach, father of harmony, master of counterpoint, and yes, lover of coffee. During his tenure in Leipzig, Germany, Bach not only wrote many (MANY) liturgical works, but also served as the director of a musical society called Collegium Musicum, which performed many secular works at the very posh Zimmermannsche Kaffeehaus (Zimmerman’s Coffeehouse). One of the most amusing pieces is known as the Coffee Cantata (Schweight stille, paludert nicht, Be still, stop chattering). It tells the story of a young girl, Lieschen, who is addicted to coffee, and after many attempts to break her of the habit, her father, Schlendrian (whose name literally means ‘stick in the mud’) is forced to give her an ultimatum: she must give up coffee before she can marry. This realization makes Lieschen change her tune (literally and figuratively) and scheming ensues. In the end, both father and daughter come to the conclusion that drinking coffee is only natural, and the people of Leipzig rejoiced.

Teddy Roosevelt:

26th President of the United States, founder of the Bull Moose party, Rough Rider, and coffee addict/slogan master. Coffee did not become a popular drink in the U.S. until the late 18th century following the Boston Tea Party, but quickly became a national staple. Perhaps Roosevelt’s travels out west carrying a big stick required high doses of caffeine, because the president was rumored to drink a gallon of coffee a day! The Trust Buster was also a marketing mastermind, having been credited with coining the Maxwell House slogan “Good to the last drop,” which he exclaimed while drinking coffee at Andrew Jackson’s home in Tennessee.

Frank Sinatra:

200 years after Bach brought the comedic Coffee Cantata to Germany, Frank Sinatra brought it to us! His 1946 hit “The Coffee Song” is a novelty song about Brazil, which produces about a third of the world’s coffee. The song is an exaggeration of coffee consumption in the South American country, or at least we hope so;

And when their ham and eggs need savor
Coffee ketchup gives ‘em flavor
Coffee pickles way outsell the dill
Why, they put coffee in the coffee in Brazil

This particular piece was so popular that it was re-recorded in 1961 for Sinatra’s album Ring-A-Ding-Ding and has been featured on the Muppets.

Friends:

As the modern day Kaffeehaus, Central Perk serves as the location for much of the drama in the beloved television series, Friends. The very first episode begins with the characters congregating in their local coffee shop, above which, 4 of the friends live. Central Perk plays an important role in their lives, with both Joey and Rachel finding employment there under the watchful eye of Gunther, and many first dates, break ups, and make ups occurring in the shop where there is miraculously always enough seating. The series finale ends with the friends turning in their apartment keys and deciding to go to Central Perk one last time. The meeting place has become such a cultural icon that there is even a replica in Bejing!

Coffee is way more than a tasty beverage, it has become a part of our culture. Do you have a favorite coffee loving icon?

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