Writing and Coffee – Why?

So I’m sitting here trying to figure out what makes writing and coffee such a brilliant combination. Is it safe to say that coffee is one of those sacred relics of the writing culture that is almost universally accepted? I think so.

I mean, there’s the obvious caffeine element. Nothing like a good dose of coffee first thing in the morning to snap you into a semi-functional work mode. But it’s more than that.

When I was in college, I did most of my fiction writing and editing in the campus coffee shop. It just felt right. Like that’s where I belonged. I know I’m not alone on that front. Why are writers attracted to coffee shops like ants to a crumb?


Is there some magical property in coffee that brings out the best prose in all of us? Come to think of it, I didn’t get into drinking coffee until I started taking my writing seriously.

According to a Dunkin’ Donuts report (which you can read here), writers and editors are in the top five professions that ‘need the most coffee.’

So does writing lead to coffee? Is it predestined that writers should partake of this elixir of storytelling? Maybe it’s become such a cultural staple that we slip into the habit no questions asked.

Here are a few thoughts/conclusions I’ve reached:

a. Writers tend to work for long hours alone. Coffee (and coffee breaks) help break up and add flavor to the monotony.

b. Coffee (the making and the drinking) is a habitual, almost muscle-memory activity that enhances our focus. It becomes part of our daily routine, and many writers thrive on routine.

c. The culture influences us. “If I’m a writer, I should have coffee.” We probably don’t actually think that, but it’s there in the back of our minds.

d. Coffee can serve as an anchor to reality while we drift further and further out into the sea of creative imagination.

e. Caffeine helps keep our tired minds alert while during those long chapters (the obvious one).


Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that not all writers like coffee. You’ve got your tea drinkers, your fancy wine people, etc. But coffee is…coffee is. And writing is.

Coffee and writing are. That’s just the way things go, I guess.

Why do you guys think writing and coffee are so often inseparable? I’m still trying to figure this out. Maybe if we put our minds together we’ll achieve a higher level of writerly understanding and all become bestsellers overnight. That’d be cool.

In the meantime, I’ve only had two cups so far this morning. I’ll be right back…


13 thoughts on “Writing and Coffee – Why?

  1. Hah! Good post! I gave up coffee years ago thinking it might cause my migraines. Turns out that wasn’t the reason, but now, while I love the smell of good coffee, I can no longer abide the taste!

    So, tea it is! Or hot chocolate. 😀


  2. Our words spark thoughts, churn great minds, could even lead to transformation (and dare I say revolution?). Cafes were the venue of choice of intellectual revolutionists throughout time, particularly Paris in the 1920s. In Spanish we say “tertulias”. I’ve been meaning to write about this on my blog. Maybe I should make myself a cup of coffee…


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