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Must Have Caffeine

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Captain Janeway: Coffee. Black.
Neelix: I'm sorry, Captain, we lost two more replicators this morning—
Janeway: Listen to me VERY carefully, because I'm only going to say this once: Coffee. Black.
Neelix: Yes, ma'am.

Ah, caffeine! Truly one of the greatest gifts of nature. It allows us humans to surpass the limits of our endurance when we need it most, and it has become a sort of lifestyle for a lot of us.

As a result of these special qualities, coffee and associated paraphernalia like coffeepots, coffee mugs and paper coffee cups with plastic covers have become a ubiquitous feature of every office setting. Oftentimes when points are being discussed, one or more of the participants will have a mug in hand. Important things happen around the office coffeepot, and the number of paper cups at an employee's desk is often used as a visual indicator of how much stress he or she is under. For some reason, other drinks are not considered to be as representative of our reliance on caffeine as good, strong coffee, even if some teas and soft drinks actually have more caffeine.


Outside of the office, people of all professions have also been depicted as being dependent on caffeine — to the point where attempts to drop the habit are used as a dramatic device. In certain works, something other than coffee may be used (such as soda), including obvious stand-ins used where real caffeinated beverages would be out of place.

Sudden and unexpected deprivation of this essential substance, on the other hand, is sometimes depicted with comedic consequences, such as sleeping or lobotomized workers.

There are some theories that the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution only occurred because the Western world discovered coffee.

People who actually dislike coffee generally only turn up in fiction as a literal punchline to the old "do you want to come in for coffee" joke. Or they're British.


Compare: Spot of Tea, G-Rated Drug, Caffeine Bullet Time, Klatchian Coffee. See also Gigantic Gulp. Often the only means of defying Not a Morning Person. This trope is usually the only reason people tolerate coffee that's Bad to the Last Drop. Caffeine Failure is when the caffeine won't work for one reason or another. It's often treated as an antidote for Sleep Deprivation — or a way to cause it.

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  • In ads for McDonalds Premium Roast Coffee we see a man who says to everyone who tries to interact with him, "not before I have my coffee." Including the person at the fast food restaurant he goes to, presumably to buy coffee.
  • A 1970s ad for Jack in the Box showed a growling werewolf driving a car, who only turned back into a normal man when he'd gotten his morning cup of coffee from the Jack in the Box drive-through. ("Do you feel like a monster in the morning before you've had coffee?")

    Card Games 
  • Flavor text for the Net Runner card "Jack 'n' Joe":
    There's too much blood in my caffeine system.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering story "Catching Up, the Living Guildpact Jace Beleren, after being told to get some rest by his bailiff after a long day of arbitrating disputes between the guilds, responds thusly:
    The Living Guildpact rules that coffee is an acceptable substitution for rest, as specified in subsection...whatever.

  • On FM & AM's "Drugs," we hear this from George Carlin:
    When they talk about drugs, they don't talk about all of them, that's the problem. They don't mention coffee. (Chuckles) The low end of the speed spectrum, I grant you. But there are coffee freaks. And they're walkin' around, and nobody, y'know, worried about it or anything. Mrs. Olsonnote  never tells you about that mild speed lift, y'know? She's shooting freeze-dried Folgers, right? But you've seen the coffee freak in the office, haven't you? The guy who drops eight or nine cups every morning, and always in a good mood: (rapidly) "Hi! How are ya? Warm that up for ya? OK, yeah! Hi, how are ya, good to see ya." Always in a nice mood. Until the coffee urn breaks, man. Then he's the first guy to: (more rapidly) "Whaddaya mean broken, man? Wha'? Plug it in, man! Turn it around! Never mind, man! Put some water in. Holy shit, man! Turn the plug around!" Then he goes out and scores, 'cause he's the one who's hooked.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hoodwinked!'s Twitchy is insanely addicted to caffeine (and in denial too), to which other characters attribute his hyperactive persona. Becomes a Chekhov's Gun near the end when he is given a huge dose of coffee to enable him to outpace and apprehend the villains.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Lewis works all night on his invention, preventing his roommate, Goob — a very short child — from sleeping before his big baseball game. As he's complaining to Mildred the next day, he trades his juice box for her coffee and walks off saying "That's good joe."

  • According to legend, when coffee arrived in Europe, the Moral Guardians took issue with drinking an Islamic drink. The issue came before The Pope, whereupon he took a whiff and baptized it because good Christians shouldn't be deprived of such an obviously heavenly drink. The real story is even better. It seems that the hard-working scholar-diplomat Pope Clement VIII was already a big fan of coffee, and wasn't about to let some stuffy old-fashioned advisors stand in the way of progress or his all-nighters.

    Print Media 
  • The 50th anniversary cover of Private Eye showed two versions of their mascot Gnitty, surrounded by the essential paraphernalia of journalism in 1961 and 2011. Prominently displayed are a cup and saucer (1961) and a Starbucks paper cup (2011).

  • Martin/Molloy: The "Coffee Squad" sketch was a parody of The Bill, in which a police team dealing with a hostage situation spends the entire time working out the best way to get coffee.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • In Microsoft Bob, Java the dinosaur, personal guide and friend of Bob, is always seen with a coffee mug in hand and will replace his mug if it breaks for some reason. Espresso bars are Java's natural habitat.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Twilight: 2000, the coffee production and distribution infrastructure was one of the first things to be repaired After the End.
  • Conversely in Shadowrun, a blight has made real coffee a ridiculously expensive luxury item, the masses are stuck drinking "Soykaf" as just one of the little details to sell the Crapsack World nature of the setting.


    Visual Novels 
  • Mach in SC2VN goes out to buy energy drinks so much that he starts to view the local store clerk as a father figure.
  • Prosecutor Godot (goh-doh) from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is obsessed with coffee, it being his "gimmick" of sorts. He often uses obscure coffee metaphors when describing his case, drinks up to seventeen cups in one trial day, has coffee served to him in a mug slid across the prosecutor's desk, does Spit Takes (sometimes even spending several seconds taking a drink for the sole purpose of doing a spit take), and throws his coffee at Phoenix when things aren't looking so good. It's also worth noting that it was the aroma of coffee in his room what woke him up from his Convenient Coma.
    • In Case 4 of Trials and Tribulations, which is set six years before the present it becomes very clear that Diego Armando is Godot when he starts making coffee metaphors to Mia.
    • It also ends up being an important symbol at the end of the game, as when he drinks his One Last Cup before he is jailed for murder and given the death penalty, Phoenix drinks one as well, indicating reconciliation.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Professor Ozpin's rarely seen without a coffee mug; he drinks hot chocolate rather than coffee, but hot chocolate is a caffeinated beverage and he drinks an awful lot of it. The new students have their first lesson on a clifftop overlooking a monster-filled forest... and even in that location, Professor Ozpin manages to conduct the lesson with a mug in hand. The one time he was seen without his drink for any length of time was also the one time where his behaviour was so out-of-character that it was lampshaded in-universe that he was Not Himself. When Ozpin explains his current situation to Team RNJR, Qrow briefly leaves the room to pour him a mug.
    • Doctor Oobleck may be even worse than Ozpin. Within the space of a single lesson, his lecture is constantly interrupted by him pausing to guzzle coffee after coffee, of several different types, including espresso-shot mugs. He also never stops moving for long and his jittery behaviour indicates he can barely stand still for a moment. His weapon is eventually revealed to his coffee thermos flask, which morphs into a flamethrower.
    • In the chibi-verse there are two skits involving Nora's addiction to coffee (and how it is very very bad for her.

It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
The hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning.
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

Alternative Title(s): Must Have Coffee


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