The Best Sad Coffee Songs


Like any melodramatic twenty-something, I often look out my window and somberly contemplate the meaning of it all while pretending I’m in a music video about a beautiful, sad girl who drinks too much coffee. That’s one thing I’ve noticed while indulging this melancholy: the best songs for weepy introspection always, always, always reference coffee. Below, the best “sad-coffee” playlist in the world. Put it on, wait for it to drizzle outside, brew a fresh pot and curl up in a window sill. It’s time to stare out into the street, sip some joe and feel super sad.

Gotta Have You — Weepies

This is 100 percent the BEST BEST BEST sad-coffee song in the world. It doesn’t help that my ex and I would refer to each other as “whiskey” and “wine” as pet names because of this song. Ugh, guys, it hurts so deep. Listen to it and think about that perfect person who doesn’t love you back or that one relationship that crumbled before your naive, young eyes. “Love is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.”

One More Cup of Coffee — Bob Dylan or the White Stripes

The lyrics are “one more cup of coffee before I go to the valley below.” It’s so somber and final and sounds like something that would play right before you go to an old West shoot-out you know you’re gonna lose. We’re all riding that highway to hell. Isn’t life so fleeting and inevitably tragic? Drink one more cup of coffee, friend-o, because we’re all gonna diiiiie.

Coffee — Copeland

This one’s a little more hopeful but the melody is still so sad. It’s got a real Springsteen-y “one day we’ll get out of this small town, you and me” vibe, which everyone knows means “no, no you won’t get out of this small town.” You’re gonna waste away here taking care of your daddy’s tire shop, but god, wouldn’t it be nice to dream big?

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee — Cranberries

This one’s more motivating. You’re right, Cranberries. I will wake up and shut up. I have one reason to live and I need to get moving. Life’s still fragile and I’m still sad, but now I’m the “she” in this song’s lyrics and I can do anything, once I get done with this coffee and start my day. This song is particularly perfect for pretending your life is a music video about your life. If I ever star in my own biopic, this might be the song the “me” character wakes up to during the montage at the beginning of the film.

Cold Coffee — Ed Sheeran

Let’s say your fantasy of choice is to be in a scene out of an old WB teen drama. This is exactly the song that would play as the “plain” brunette scrubs the counter of the local coffee shop she works at, thinking wistfully of the male protagonist who doesn’t know she loves him back. That melancholy girl could be you! This song plays at the end of the episode as the scene fades between you both restless in your separate beds. Eat your heart out, Grey’s Anatomy.

Colorblind — Counting Crows

Whatever, whatever, of course, I first heard this song in Cruel Intentions like every other sad teenage girl in the world. Man, is it perfect for the introspection that happens when you’re turning a page in your life. Leaving for college soon? Breaking up with someone? Getting together with someone? Moving to another city alone? You are ready, you are ready, you are… totally falling apart, oh god. Help.

Cup of Coffee — Katy Perry

The most literal translation of this trope comes from the Queen of Subtlety, Katy Perry. One of the lyrics in this break up song is “I could really go for a cup of coffee and an overdose.” It’s the kind of perfect melodrama that fourteen year old me, who’d never done drugs in her life, would have quoted on her “goth” MySpace page. I want to listen to this song and think about how many black and white LiveJournal icons I had as a teenager.

Coffee and Cigarettes — Jimmy Eat World

Speaking of early high school, Jimmy Eat World sang my life back then — and nothing makes for better sad introspection than feeling nostalgic. Remember high school? Remember how your parents just didn’t get your black clothes and deadpan wallowing? Remember feeling like you’d never make it in the real world? The old familiar lyrical pairing of “coffee and cigarettes” lets you know the person singing is like, totally deep and messed up. JUST LIKE YOU.

Girl Inform Me — The Shins

This song is so simple and perhaps a little upbeat for a “sad-coffee” playlist, but there’s a different sort of melancholy here. Ever been in a relationship where you feel a bit in over your head, and you’re worried you like the other person way too much and this can only end in obsession and disaster? One choice lyric: “Before we begin, is there nothing to kill this anxiety?” COFFEE. DRINK SOME COFFEE. You’ll feel better.

 We’re Just Friends — Wilco

Unrequited love! Do you feel it? It feels like a punch in the teeth. Why not soothe that ache by sitting down with a hot cup of joe? You can read the paper alone and wonder what that “just friend” is doing right now. Are they thinking of you too? Are you supposed to someday realize you’re perfect for each other? Until then, you have this coffee to keep you company.

She’s Losing It — Belle and Sebastian

This song sounds upbeat, like a lot of Belle and Sebastian, but the lyrics are incredibly dark. This girl’s been abused, is mad, is looking for a fight, is experimenting sexually, sometimes doesn’t speak all day long and of course, drinks stale coffee. I always pictured her looking like Angelina Jolie’s Lisa from Girl, Interrupted. Listen to “She’s Losing It” when you’re drinking coffee and really feeling THAT messed up. It’s the soundtrack to your nervous breakdown.

Tom’s Diner — Suzanne Vega

An old classic, but this whole song is just about a lady drinking coffee, examining the minutia of life in an extremely literal, simple, direct and almost distant way. Vega called “Tom’s Diner” perfect for someone who feels like they see life through a pane of glass “witnessing a lot of things, but never involved in them.” Suzanne Vega is the Tao Lin of songs about coffee.

Woke Up New — Mountain Goats

This one might give the Weepies a run for their sad money. Guy wakes up alone after a break up (or the death of a significant other) and he’s cold and talks to himself and makes too much coffee because he’s used to two people and oh, it’s cutting too close. You guys ever just put on an ex’s sweatshirt and eat something they liked and listen to some song they used to play for you and… okay, time to step away from the computer, brew another pot and hit “play” on this bad boy.

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