"[Her son] hung over her shoulder and brought her continual mugs of strong black coffee. This beverage began to appear in the books, too. The mutineer humans drank gav, while their law-abiding enemies quaffed chvi. Spacer aliens staggered from their nav-couches to gulp down kivay; and the mystics of Meld used xfy to induce an altered state of consciousness — although this was not generally spotted as being the same substance. And it was all immensely popular."Every single Speculative Fiction setting comes with a hot, mildly stimulant beverage that can take the place of coffee, and more often than not has a name that sounds very much like "coffee". Apparently coffee itself is too mundane to talk about; alternately, authors of Medieval European Fantasy may want to avoid it because it wasn't common in Europe until the 17th century. Sometimes authors justify it by saying that coffee exists in-universe, but the beverage in question isn't really coffee, or is a specific form of coffee that everyone inexplicably prefers to all other forms. Can be considered a Sub-Trope of Most Writers Are Writers: anyone who's ever struggled with Writer's Block will feel they owe a debt of gratitude to the drink, and a brief cameo is the least they could do. Nick Lowe, of "The Well-Tempered Plot-Device" fame, has suggested that this is a vicious cycle: you have writer's block, you drink coffee, you start thinking about coffee, and you mistake this for your writer's block clearing up. Compare Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp", the supertrope for things other than coffee. Also see this essay by Jo Walton (which, incidentally, links back to this wiki) and Klatchian Coffee as the drinks that fall into this trope can also overlap with being an Uncoffee. See also All Beer Is Ale, Bad to the Last Drop.
— "Nad and Dan adn Quaffy", Diana Wynne Jones
open/close all folders
- In the Judge Dredd universe they drink Synthi-Caff, a synthetic substitute for coffee with no caffeine. Caffeine and sugar are illegal drugs in Mega-City One. However, even Synthi-Caff turns out eventually to be somewhat addictive, and is replaced by Synthi-Synthi-Caff.
- In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the beverage is referred to as cinnamon tree bark brew or acorn brew.
- The Next Frontier runs with "a liquid it is convenient to call coffee".
- "Aen'rhien Vailiuri" has the Romulans quaffing a highly caffeinated bitter tea. Morgan flavors the recipe used on the Aen'rhien with khellid honey and spices (making it sort of like chai), but her tactical officer Sahuel complains that it's too sweet that way. Unfortunately, "replicated just tastes fake", so she's stuck. Jaleh Khoroushi, the Iranian ops officer and Token Human, lampshades it, thinking that it's funny how every species in the galaxy seems to have come up with some variation of a hot beverage with stimulant properties.
- The Triptych Continuum features wake-up juice as the stimulant drink of pony choice. Unusually, this beverage explicitly exists alongside tea and coffee. (The latter is indicated to be, at best, an acquired taste for most ponies (and a near-addiction for Cadance).) Little is known about the beverage other than its color (creamy yellow), the fact that it's plant-based — and those same plants, if raised in the vicinity of wild magic, are the source of the Fantastic Drug Exam Crystal.
- Emberverse: After technology (and, consequently, society) breaks down, real coffee becomes a rare and incredibly expensive luxury in most of North America. Several substitutes become fashionable among the younger generation, most notably chicory, which comes to be called "coffee" in some places. But many characters old enough to remember life before the Change eschew it, saying that it tastes just barely enough like the real thing to make them miss it all the more.
- In Brave New World, one nurse is told to go relax and have a cup of caffeine solution.
- Lack of real coffee becomes a real difficulty in Monstrous Regiment thanks to a vampire using it as his substitute for blood. The squad makes some out of acorns for him (which soldiers did often in Real Life, minus the the necessity for keeping vampires on the wagon).
- In Men at Arms, Carrot orders a cup of acorn coffee at Gilmet's dwarf deli.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has "caf tea", or "coffeine" or "caffa" or just "caf", depending on the writer, since most of them don't like or haven't bothered looking up the words already coined. It's a big universe and these all might be distinct beverages or brands, but even so. And oratay, which is apparently rare. Averted with the highly exotic drink hot chocolate. One Jedi Apprentice book mentions "kopi tea", which is sorta funny when you know "kopi" is Malay for "coffee".
- The Heralds of Valdemar series usually sticks to "strong tea", but occasionally mentions a stimulant drink called "bitteralm". That one's particularly strange, because it sounds like a reference to "bitter almond", which is a real-world nut that contains cyanide and must be carefully treated before it's edible.
- In the Mage Storms trilogy, when Karal is suffering from homesickness one of the things he misses about being in Karse is "a good, strong cup of kava". There's also an Imperial beverage (brought to Hardorn by Tremane's forces) called kav, which is specifically noted as being good at waking drinkers up.
- In the Dragonriders of Pern books, everybody drinks klah, which isn't coffee or tea. (The colonists found that neither of those plants would grow successfully, so they concocted a substitute from the bark of a native tree. It tastes more like "cinnamony chocolate, with a touch of hazelnut and coffee".) It's stated in Dragonsdawn that the first two things human colonists always do on a new world are 1. find something that can be turned into booze and 2. find something that can be turned into a caffeinated drink. The second one is necessary because coffee plants won't grow successfully on any planet but Earth for some reason. And all the tea plants were consumed by Thread on Pern, in the First Fall.
- In Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy books, coffee is called "caffe" in the Anglo-French Empire. A passing comment in one of the Kurland novels suggests that caffe might actually be hot chocolate rather than coffee.
- In the Mageworlds series, the Mageworlds have a drink called "uffa", and the Adeptworlds have a drink called "cha'a" (which is probably tea, because chá is how the word for tea is pronounced in some Chinese dialects, and many other languages' words for tea are derived from this).
- The Seanchan of The Wheel of Time have a hot drink called kaf, which is quite likely coffee.
- The people in Dragonlance drink "tarbean tea". There is also a drink called "Kefre" which is probably even more coffee-like than tarbean tea.
- In the Chronicles of the Warlands trilogy, it's kavage.
- In Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion series, the stimulant drink of choice is "sib". Sib is a mixture of bitter herbs steeped in water, sort of like tea - except tea exists in the setting as well, and sib is different (tea is a luxury good of limited availability, sib is included in mercenaries' rations).
- There is also "asar", which might be a candidate, but apart from that it is served hot, has stimulating and restorative properties attributed to it and that it is given to sentries on outdoor duty, nothing is known.
- The Chanur Novels by C. J. Cherryh have the cat-like aliens drinking gfi.
- Anne Bishop's Ephemera novels, in what is probably the least-intrusive possible version of this trope, have koffee. It is pretty explicitly just coffee, brewed from roasted beans, but in that universe it's a "black market" item that comes from a far away Landscape.
- In Labyrinths of Echo by Max Frei, everyone in the parallel universe of Echo drinks kamra. It takes a weak, but really specific magic to make it just right and one of the Running Gags in the series is the protagonist's seemingly utter inability to make kamra that can be consumed by people with functional taste buds (he even considers using it to intimidate criminals at interrogations but decides that it's against the law). It takes an intervention of a powerful wizard to teach him to make kamra properly and later on, he cheats by stealing real coffee from our world.
- The Gor books have "the black wine of Thentis". When the Earth-born protagonists taste it for the first time, their reaction boils down to "Wow, this is coffee!"
- In the Doc Sidhe novels by Aaron Allston, the fair world equivalent of coffee is a bitter chocolate based drink named xioc (or, with milk, "xioc au lait"...). It takes some getting used to for the characters originally from Earth.
- In the Dragaera series, coffee does exist, but most of the characters drink the specific variant of it known as klava (which is filtered through eggshells), and served with honey and cream. It's probably based on Hungarian egg coffee, because the Easterner culture is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to medieval Hungary.
- Fleegix, a watery, hot chocolate-like beverage that is made from the berries of the four zitzkis bushes that grow only on the summit of the mountain-city of Lenny in the existential plane of Waka-Waka and drunk out of ceremonial Lucite-handled thermal cups, shows up a lot in the sillier Daniel Pinkwater novels. Which is to say most of them.
- In the Sten series, people drink "caff".
- Tah in Doris Egan's Ivory trilogy. Specifically pointed out to be mildly addictive. In the second book, the outlaws decide to earn themselves a pardon by stealing all the tah they can get a hold of, thus annoying the population and government officials when they can't get their fixes.
- Coffee in Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance series acts as an intoxicant to the Sholans, who drink a much milder version called c'shar.
- Trudi Canavan has "raka" for coffee (drunk by slum dwellers) and "sumi" for tea (staple for the upper classes).
- Malak in Robin McKinley's Damar books, The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, is Damarian uncoffee.
- The humans in James P. Hogan's The Immortality Option drink coffee. The Borijans—the six-limbed birdlike aliens responsible for the mechanical biosphere on Titan—on the other hand drink (or rather drank, as their planet was destroyed half a million years ago) graff, made from a kind of dried seaweed. Justified in that they're six-limbed birdlike aliens from a planet that was destroyed half a million years ago.
- In Dune they drink coffee flavored with melange, which makes perfect sense for Space Arabs.note Granted, this isn't entirely by choice, since melange is everywhere on Arrakis anyway, to the point that everyone on Arrakis is addicted to it.
- The protagonist of Wizard's Bane craves Jolt Cola rather than coffee, but eventually discovers that a foul-tasting drink called "blackmoss tea" works just as well. In the sequel hired Earth programmers request coffee or tea, but accept blackmoss tea too.
- In the Ciaphas Cain books, the title character claims to have once fought his way single-handed through a continent full of Orks just to get a bowl of Tanna Tea! But he will also drink "Re-caff" as well, which is recycled caffeine.
- In Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline Carey, it is tremendously fashionable for D'Angeline nobles to drink khav, which is described as a bitter drink from Jebe-Barkal (the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Ethiopia.)
- In Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy, everyone in Cenaria drinks Ootai, and in the Satrapies of his Lightbringer series, they drink kopi.
- In Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, the citizens of Ayortha enjoy a hot molasses beverage called ostumo.
- In Song in the Silence, people drink chelan. It is said to taste a bit (to us) like yerba mate, with cinnamon.
- In The Telling, people drink a beverage called akakafi, which is described as "bittersweet, black...containing a remarkable mixture of alkaloids, stimulants, and depressants". The most common brand (owned by the government) is even called Starbrew.
- Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser enjoy the occasional cup of hot gahveh.
- A meta example in Diana Wynne Jones's short story Nad and Dan adn Quaffy. The story is about a science-fiction author with a coffee addiction who tends to write all her main characters as having an addiction to some kind of Suspiciously Similar Substitute. The quaffy in the title is one of them, but there is also gav, chvi, kivay, xfy, etc. This gets to the point were she starts calling coffee itself chofiy or c'phee by mistake.
- The Helmsman Saga features cvcesse', defined as "A hot, sticky liquid with natural stimulants and a pleasant, toasted taste consumed at all hours note throughout the Known Universe. Usually served in mugs or cups."
- In Horatio Hornblower, the Navy typically uses burnt bread (with lots of sugar to mask the taste) once the actual coffee runs out.
- In The Journal Entries, a "Sendar equivalent of coffee" is popular under the short name "kfi".
- The General: Raj Whitehall reflects that the Gubierno Civil's High Command can't function without "kave" from distant Azania.
- Shaddi in Reflections of Eterna fulfills the same role as coffee. It was even imported to Talig from the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Arabia.
- Star Darlings has Zing, a "traditional Starling breakfast drink that can be enjoyed hot or iced."
- Played with in the German SF novel Der Verbannte von Asyth ("The Exile from Asyth") — the alien culture the title character and his companion-in-exile hail from has a drink that must be chemically virtually identical to Earth coffee judging by the latter's effects on one of them, but to them it acts as an addictive intoxicant. Presumably 'klukol' would make an acceptable coffee substitute for Earthlings in turn.
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe parodies this effect, but instead of coffee, it's the alcoholic drink "gin and tonic" that gets this treatment, showing up instead as "jynnan tonnyx", a suspiciously similar name which the Guide itself immediately lampshades. In light of this, one wonders whether Douglas Adams drank a lot while writing... (Although a jynnan tonnyx actually tastes like a whisky and soda.)
- Safehold: Later in the novels, cherrybean tea makes an appearance. Readers who are at all familiar with coffee need neither the In-Universe confirmation from Merlin nor the glossary entry to tell what this would have been called on Old Earth.
- In the novella With Delicate Mad Hands by James Tiptree Jr, having made a kind of controlled crash landing on the Pigworld (actually a brown dwarf star) she's been aiming for since childhood, Carol settles down to communicate with the residents (she can't leave her ship due to high levels of radiation) with a "breakfast bar and self-heating kaffy". This could be the real thing or a coffee substitute (since Earth's recovering from several apocalyptic wars).
- The crew of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pretty much relies on "raktajino," sometimes explicitly referred to as Klingon coffee, to get through their day, even though none of them are Klingon. Indeed at least one of them only learned of Klingons recently, and the only Klingon in the main cast doesn't actually drink the stuff.
"Klingons have developed a way to make coffee particularly strong, both in flavour and in its effect as a stimulant, and it’s a very popular beverage. As a rule, coffee’s consumed plain - that is, black - but some Klingons prefer to mix other ingredients in with the coffee. If some kind of liquor is added to the coffee, the drink is called ra’taj. It’s said that the drink was originally nicknamed ra’wI’ taj (“commander’s knife,” suggestive of its potency), and that the name was shortened over time. In any event, ra’taj became one of the few Klingon foods to gain popularity outside the Empire, though in an altered form. Instead of containing liquor, as does the genuine Klingon ra’taj, the “export” version (which came to be pronounced in Federation Standard) consists of strong Klingon coffee plus a nutlike flavouring. Eventually, a new fashion developed - adding cream to the - and with this innovation came yet another name, , modelled after the name of another popular coffee drink, cappuccino. Raktajino is now served hot or iced, with or without extra cream, and with or without the rind of some fruit to add even more flavour. Though it’s sometimes called “Klingon coffee,” it’s quite different from both plain coffee and the alcoholic ra’taj.
- A guest star who was a longtime prisoner of the Cardassians notes that they don't drink coffee (or raktajino), but hot fish juice. Yuck.
- In the Star Trek: Vanguard book Precipice, Diego Reyes tries raktajino, and quickly concludes that it's nothing like coffee.
- In case anyone's interested, the full story of raktajino is apparently this (taken from one of the works expanding on the Klingon dictionary):
- In the episode where the crew goes back in time to "The Trouble With Tribbles", Odo (in disguise) distractedly asks the waitress for raktajino and then clarifies that it is Klingon coffee. She replies that they don't serve Klingon food and drink, and that he's the second person to ask for it, cluing him in that fugitive Darvin has passed that way.
- The crew of Star Trek: Voyager try on several occasions to find native substitutes for coffee, none of which come even remotely close. Given the captain's raging case of Must Have Caffeine (and the poor quality of replicated coffee), this became a problem on more than one occasion...
- According to Star Trek: The Next Generation the Vulcans have a kind of "un-tea." Sarek's wife Perrin mentions, over a cup of mint tea with Picard, that the Vulcans have "something they call mint," which apparently isn't as good as real Earth mint, or at least not quite the same.
- A modern-day example occurs in one episode of Barney Miller when Wojo takes Dietrich's suggestion for a substitute in order to save water during a drought: hot Dr. Pepper. Barney is not pleased.
- Drinking hot Dr Pepper was an actual (short-lived) fad at the time.
- The Shadowrun universe has "soycaf". Because everything on the whole planet that is available to the working classes will be made of soy in the future, even things that would grow better in their respective climates.
- This is later Ret Conned somewhat. There is also algae, and small shrimp grown in giant factory farms to add more variety. Real food (not made from soy) is eaten daily by middle class and higher. Soy food is the equivlent to modern-day processed foods. Only the really poor (And Shadowrunners needing to buy ammo) buy unprocessed soy.
- Warhammer 40,000 uses a wide variety of variants on coffee, including straight caffeine and recaff, among others.
- A piece of Warhammer 40k fluff had the Imperial Guard drinking "Recycled caffeine" at an outpost before they were massacred by the Tyranids (again). Probably as much a lampshading of their status as professional cannon fodder and terrible equipment as an example of this trope. It isn't stated what it is, but given this is from the administration that gave you 'Soylens Viridians' it's probably better not to ask.
- Some fluff makes Recaf closer to being tea, such as in Only War, which describes it as being made from crushed and brewed leaves. note
- Caffeine is classified as a 'Stimm', Adrenaline shots are also Stimms.
- Even the Clans of BattleTech are not immune to the lure of coffee-like products, drinking a utilitarian stimulant known only as "caff," heavily implied to be nothing more than Vietnam-era Army coffee in effect and flavor. It's telling that a Clan warrior drinking Inner Sphere brewed commercial coffee (think Starbucks) had no idea what he was drinking and had to ask.
- A Dragon article about food and drink in the Greyhawk setting mentions kaffet, a bean grown in the Baklunish Basin (Oerth's Fantasy Counterpart Culture Arabia) and made into a "bitter tonic" that promotes wakefulness.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, asking the food replicator for tea caused it to give you a healthy and nutritious tea substitute.note You really have to work in order to get real tea out of the dang thing.
- Narrowly averted in the original radio drama, where the computer offers Arthur the Uncoffee,note and he asks it to consider the possibility that he might actually want the unhealthy, non-nutritious version. The computer does so, but this takes up so much computing power that the group almost can't avoid the incoming nuclear missiles. And after the attack, it spits out a cup of real tea.
- Parodied in Kingdom of Loathing's "Guano coffee cup" item, where the description says "Wait, what's 'coffee'?"
- There's also a one-of-a-kind coffee mug that references this. What takes the cake, though, is a consumable item that explicitly is coffee, which had to be revised twice once the creators realized they had stricken coffee from existence.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga has Starbean's Cafe, where one can sample various blends of... bean juice. (Although, strictly speaking, coffee is bean juice.)
- The MMORPG Tabula Rasa had Coffite, a brew produced by the Cormans and billed by the AFS Post Exchange as "something like coffee that's better than no coffee at all." The fall of Earth to the Bane forced surviving humans to find substitutes for most of their food and drink; most AFS soldiers (both roleplayers and NPCs) found it to be a poor substitute.
- Chapter eleven of the Xenofiction Web Serial Novel Treetops describes a beverage called "Chark", which is compared to both coffee and tea, and "other drinks that enjoy the same semi-cult status". It is a hot beverage made from boiled pollen that stimulates the spine and base brain tissue, increasing available psychic energy and inducing a feeling of wellbeing. The more physical effects are likened to an affectionate stroke on the ear.
- The Simpsons had an episode where Mrs. Krabappel offers Principal Skinner a cup of "coffee-flavoured beverine"; Skinner takes his "grey, with creamium". Presumably it's the same concept as the malk ("now with Vitamin R!") found in another episode: a poor, low-cost substitute that's all the school can afford.
- There are a wide variety of variations to or replacements for coffee as any visitor to Starbucks knows. See The Other Wiki's list of coffee substitutes for some examples.
- During The American Civil War, Lincoln cut off the South's access to coffee supplies (coffee had to be imported by ship, and practically the first thing the Union did in the war was establish a general blockade of the South and its ports). Desperate, the Confederacy tried to make substitutes of anything that they could get their hands on. This included faux-coffee made from chicory, roasted dandelion root, and toasted grain, best of all. Worst of all being acorns.
- Mirrored by the North's lack of tobacco, and resulting in scouting parties from both armies being as likely to trade with one another as fight.
- Chicory caught on, after a fashion; it's still an ingredient, though now mixed with real coffee. Coffee-chicory blends are popular in Louisiana, and especially popular in New Orleans.
- Eastern European countries still drink grain coffee. There was all sorts of mock-foreign products, including faux chocolate. One of the party leaders advocated abandoning lemons in favor of the Sauerkraut - which has roughly the same vitamin C content. He changed his mind, when his wife prepared him some tea... with sauerkraut.
- During the Russian Civil War, the exact same coffee substitutes were in use. There was even a brand of acorn coffee, "Zheludin" (lit. Acornine) that was marketed even after the hurdle was cleared, as a "healthy" coffee.
- Historically Russians are much bigger on tea, though (tea is right up there with vodka as far as how much Russians drink it). Reds ending up with all the stock from the pre-Revolutionary tea trade is often credited as one reasons for their victory, as they were able to introduce a strict dry law, giving out the tea in consolation, which lead to better morale and better health (as tea required boiling the water) in their troops.
- Due USA's economical block on Chile during Salvador Allende's presidential period, coffee became scant and very expensive, so an alternative made from barley was made, and even when coffee became cheap and easy to find again, the popularity of barley coffee substitute still prevails to date, specially among kids who can't drink caffeine.
- In The Blitz, Britons had a similar problem with obtaining coffee (although other drinks were more of a problem when they became unavailable). This may be the reason for the popularity of instant coffee in present day Britain. We've even invented varieties that don't taste unspeakably vile!
- During World War II, most of the Continental Europe had to do without coffee or tobacco as these countries were cut off from their sources. Many substitutes for coffee were developed, with varying success while coffee (and tobacco) smuggling was an extremely profitable business. Allied POWs, especially Americans, who had access to real coffee and tobacco from Red Cross packages they received, often used them to bribe German guards.
- Having to rely on coffee substitutes (called Ersatzkaffee or Muckefuck) was also necessary in West Germany during the post-war era, as well as in East Germany during The '70s. The "seventies coffee crisis" (which did affect the West, but mostly ended up producing higher prices rather than scarcity per se) resulted from a bad harvest in Brasil and the GDR's notorious lack of hard currency with which to buy coffee. First they tried substituting coffee with the aforementioned products and then they invested in Vietnam, which at that time had an infant coffee industry at best, causing it to take a path towards the second biggest coffee producer in the world today, mostly focused on mass producing cheap varieties. To this day Germany and Vietnam enjoy surprisingly strong relations and ties of all sorts for two countries so far apart without a history of colonialism or a shared language between them.
- Frederick The Great liked coffee boiled in champagne. Given that he was a great conqueror, you might have expected him to drink red wine, or as a German to drink beer, but you would be forgetting his intense love for all things modern and French—and in 18th-century Europe, coffee was modern and champagne was (of course) French.
- During The American Revolution, many colonists boycotted tea in protest of the British tax on it. Since tea was (at the time) a bit easier to come by than coffee, that's what they were used to...so they experimented with as many substitutes as possible, brewing "tea" from the barks and leaves of native trees and plants.
- For much of the 20th Century, Postum (one of those roasted grain beverages; and yes, that's "Post" as in "Post Cereal") is hugely popular among Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists (it's still being made by a smaller firm that mostly markets to the aforementioned). It was also given to children considered too young for coffee.