Ben Franklin said “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” What he didn’t reveal was his secret to achieving this habit: coffee. Franklin is probably the most productive American on the following list of famous creative coffee drinkers. But then again, Ben Franklin was about as productive as they come. Still maybe Beethoven and Bach give Ben a run for his caffeine… they both produced like they were, you know, on something.
It’s a short list made by searching the internet, culling the data. Curiously, one can reach the conclusion from the digital record that creative women throughout history were much more likely to hide their coffee convictions, or not to have them at all. Most of the lists contain primarily men. (The missing women are probably attributable to a sexist genius bias, history being that way, but maybe it’s true that coffee — not genius — was a men’s thing?) So we’ll start our list with one woman we know who really liked an espresso or two, and was a genuine creative force for sure: Simone de Beauvoir. We’ll end with another creative woman coffee drinker. We put the usual suspects in between. (For more check out All About Coffee at Amazon.)
L. Frank Baum: you can credit caffeine’s stimulant power for the Yellow Brick Road, the scarecrow, the tin man, and Dorothy’s sparkly shoes. The Wizard of Oz author woke up and started imbibing the java.
Ben Franklin: brought his own coffee with him when he traveled, the better to be ready in case, say, lightning struck.
Voltaire: the Candide scribe drank coffee like there was no tomorrow, yet lived to see more tomorrows than most, dying at 83 in 1778.
Honore de Balzac: the tireless French writer liked the coffee. He liked it enough for someone to name a coffee company after him.
Beethoven and Bach: Bach wrote a cantata (Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht) praising coffee and Beethoven started every day by counting out 60 beans for his daily dose.
Albert Einstein: the symbol of genius liked to drink iced coffee in tumblers as a young man, sitting in cafes, dreaming of riding on light waves.
Margaret Atwood: the Canadian author who brought the world The Handmaid’s Tale lends her name to a line of Balzac’s coffee, The Atwood Blend.