Coffee and Writing

Could you write without drinking coffee? I personally dread the thought. How about you? How important is coffee to fueling your writing?

Absolutely essential to maintain cognition and other vital signs.

I’ve long hankered after one of those manually pressurised Italian machines with a handle like an old-fashioned beer pump. I saw one in a shop in Siena once, gold in colour and surmounted by an eagle. Couldn’t have got it home, couldn’t afford it, didn’t buy it, always regretted it.

Instead I have a perfectly good electrically pumped Gaggia that provides a cappuccino at breakfast and frequent espressos throughout the day. (Columbian or Italian.) But it doesn’t have a golden eagle on the top, and so it’s not the same.


Absolutely essential. Pots & pots of the stuff! :open_mouth: Cola just won’t do.

A writer is a machine for turning coffee into prose. 8)

As an experiment I went without coffee for some months.
The writing was no worse than usual.
It can be done. I am back drinking coffee.

Now writing without Jack Daniels…I’m not so sure.


I am, in fact, hard to live without. With, too.

For many decades I drank coffee, tea, and cola, and the end result was a wrecked gut and bad nerves. Two years ago, I read a book about caffeine and concluded that it was a toxic, addictive substance that I needed to dump.

I switched to herbal teas and then African “bush” teas, which have a light, nutty flavor that stands up to a little milk or cream. I also buy fruit and decaf teas from Britain and Ireland; all of fantastic quality, with little or no caffeine. (Another benefit: tea supplies last longer and cost less than coffee.)

The result: I sleep well, have no acid reflux, and friends say I’ve had a personality transplant. Since detoxing, I’m calmer and more productive. Not trying to convert anyone, but I’m much better off with a divorce from Lady Java.

Those African “teas” are great. When I’m on a caffeine diet, I also drop back to green tea and white tea. The latter, especially, has very little but a wonderful flavour and aroma. Green tea has more, but it still falls under the amount of caffeine in a chocolate serving. Due to cheapness, you can equalise your budget from coffee to tea and end up getting some really great teas from around the world. If you drink a cup of coffee a day, you can buy a quarter pound of The Good Stuff off of a week’s worth of coffee, which will last around a month if you drink two or three pots of tea a day. This is largely true because many of the good loose leaf teas can be reused several times before they run out of flavour. I’ve had some particularly good Oolong teas which can be used four or five times before running out of steam.

I would mainline it if I could. :smiling_imp:

I am a HUGE tea drinker, having been brought up by British and Irish parents, and periodically stuff the house with all the teas aforementioned. There is always a pot going in this house. I love green and white African teas, and Japanese greens, and Chai, and plain old Sainsbury’s Red Label is a staple in my kitchen (which can be somewhat inconvenient, since I live in New Jersey and must rely on the family across the pond for regular shipments). But all that said, give me my thermos of java when I sit down at the computer screen in the morning or God only knows what might or might not transpire, and it could get ugly.


But last year I decided to go running longer and more often, to get that toxic out quicker.

Come to think about it: I couldn’t go running without having a coffee in the morning. Mhm …

Possibly. But would I enjoy it? Probably not…

I was interviewed for a friend’s school thesis on creative processes and was inadvertantly quoted as saying, “I only drink water and coffee. And occasionally rum.” Not entirely true, but very nearly so (there’s absinthe a couple times a year)…

Ten-fifteen years ago, that would have been water, tea, and coffee (& absinthe). Although I still love a fine cup of tea, I just don’t drink it much anymore. Not precisely sure why.

For me, coffee and writing are inextricably linked, although I only started drinking coffee when I got a job roasting it back in `93 or so; I’ve been writing for far longer. However, coffee does serve as a great creative distractor for me (make pause to take a sip, or to pour another cup, or to grind some for another pot), allowing some ideas to—ehem—percolate a while before being transformed into words.

There is definitely something about the ritual in it, for me. With coffee there is the grinding of the beans and then setting up the press, boiling the water, operating the press and then tearing it apart and cleaning it. With tea there are even more rituals one must attend to, especially if using one of those finicky but lovely Japanese cast-iron tea pots; then the leaves must be steamed gently and then doused with water of just the right temperature and for just right number of seconds. I think it gets the mind into writing mode, since that is how I always start out a session. Similar, I would expect, to the little rituals we play out prior to falling asleep for the night.

I drink coffee on medical advice.


My doctor – an old-world Renaissance man – believes indiscriminate drug use, with or without prescriptions, has enervated Western culture. Our artists, he argues, produce second- and third-rate material, and we are collectively too dumbed-down (or drug-laden) to recognize it as such.

Where does innovative, stimulating art come from today? From Estonian composers, he says, and from Indian novelists. From artists in (relatively) drug-free societies. His point, insofar as this thread is concerned, is that caffeine is the only non-destructive stimulant he knows, and he urges me to keep drinking it, to keep the good neurons firing.


I once posted (on another board) in response to the question…

I replied…

…perhaps more coffee in the process would lead to a better work flow…or perhaps less. Don’t know. :wink:


I am more of a Coke man (soda pop for all you Northerners). I tend to write late in the evening and Coffee is more of my morning ritual of getting a quick fix before I swtich over to Coke to sustain my caffeine high.

Also shine goes better with coke than it does Coffee…

Now the uber important question.

Do you write with your shoes on or off?

ON. I I can only write while wear steel-toe boots…no seriously… : )

I hardly ever wear shoes, whether writing or not. Socks neither. I’m not a big fan of pedencapsulation.

Oh, Amber. A girl after my own heart. I have lived mostly barefoot, including the 19 years I ran a paperhanging business (I should start another thread about what strange and varied professions we’ve all engaged in to support our little writing habits). I was known as the barefoot girl on the ladders–it was a combination of avoiding both what you so delightfully describe as pedencapsulation and tracking stray droplets of paste over Mrs. Higglebottom’s priceless Karistans. Plus prehensile attachments to the ladders.

But–and I am guessing here you are much much younger than I–I am paying for it all now. :frowning: TMI, I know, but I have dreadfully flat feet (always have had, not from going barefoot) and my big toe joints are protesting all these decades of unrelenting and unassisted pressure. I am off to the podiatrist, with shaking toes, as soon as my daughter gets through her little medical forays, to see what can be done about my poor aching feetsies at this late stage. I am envisioning a future of sad enclosures and those ortho things you stick in your shoes. Sigh.

Sigh. Yeah that’s me, always pit-patting around the office no matter how cold or hot; rain or snow as they say. But then I’ve always told myself I’d be lucky if I end up in a wheelchair once factoring in wild clumsiness and fragility. I suppose I could lobby to have my office converted into a sandbox.

I’ve always said we’re going about it the wrong way with hard floors and soft shoes. :slight_smile: