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How Do You Take It? (A Coffee Poetry Prompt)


coffee poetry prompt

There is a man who beats me to the local coffee house at least once a week. He’s rugged, wears flannel and combat boots. His beard, unkempt and longish. His eyes, deeply inset.

The barista asks him whether he’d like room for cream. He tells her cream is only good when it’s fronted by Eric Clapton, and catechizes that the highest form of coffee sacrilege is its dilution with dairy. She gives it to him black, for the love of all that’s holy, takes it from a carafe that sits off to the side. This is the container for the char-black sludge reserved for roughnecks, architects, and chemically-enhanced hipster students. Them and this John-the-Baptist of a man, that is. He pays a buck fifty, nods his thank you, and lumbers out the front door.

There is also a delicate woman who frequents the shop. She, slender-fingered and closer to 70 than 60, always orders cafe au lait, which the baristas have learned to make just right for her. She slowly swipes her debit card and thanks them softly with an authentic basin accent (Achafalaya, maybe Thibbideaux?). The young girls behind the counter smile their appreciation, tell her to have a glorious day. “I always do,” she says.

Each patron has their own way. Ken takes a macchiato. Amber, a latte, two-and-a-half-pumps of Cinnamon in a paper cup. Brian pairs his with a Texas-style Kolache.

The way I see it, coffee preferences are individual, say something about the drinker. And for this week’s poetry prompt, we’re exploring these preferences. With that in mind, consider crafting a work of poetry from this very simple question: How do you take it?


Tweetspeak’s January Coffee and Tea Poetry Prompt:

This month’s poetry theme at Tweetspeak is coffee and tea, and we’re composing poems that play with the theme. Perhaps you can gain a bit of inspiration from this month’s playlist, from the music at your local coffee joint, or from some other coffee or tea inspired piece of art. How do you participate?

1.  Think about your favorite experiences, works of art, literary scenes, or songs that involve coffee or tea. Listen to the Tweetspeak monthly poetry playlist.

2.  Compose a poem inspired by your coffee and tea experiences.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSCoffeeCup hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your poem here in the comment box.

5. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and feature it in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

Last week, there were some great poems shared. Glynn Young captures the essence of the Café Du Monde in the poem by the same name. He writes in part:

To sit in the hottest part
of a hot summer’s day
in the most crowded part
of a touristed city
in the busiest establishment
on the busiest street
with the most taciturn waiters
in the world (outside of Paris)

Visit his website for the full poem.

Lynndianne of Poem in My Pocket tells a bit of a quirky story involving a newlywed coffee machine. In “For Better or Worse,” she writes:

He and she
received a shiny black coffee maker
as a formal wedding gift.


She, for he,
brewed a steamy pot every morning
as a dutiful wife.


He, for she,
drank his morning cuppa joe
as a faithful husband.


She, then he,
admitted (after the first anniversary)
that neither really cared for black coffee.


He and she
hid the coffee maker in a back cupboard
and drank orange juice for breakfast.

Finally, how could I resist posting Maureen Doallas subtle yet steamy tea poem.

In China I sip Dragon Pearls
fifteen hundred feet above sea level.
I am green as the hand-rolled leaves,
my yet-to-be-plucked bud needing
the most delicate handling
to yield you a cup of enchantment.

Now, let’s brew up some great poetry. Who’s first?

Photo by John Pastorello, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Seth Haines


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In January we’re exploring the theme Coffee and Tea.

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Your Comments

20 Comments so far

  1. Claire says:

    I bought Calvin a coffee course for Christmas. He attended it and came back beaming yesterday.

    He then taught me all about high notes and bass notes coffee flavours.

    I am definitely a high note lass.

    Really loved this article. The writing has my full attention.

    • Seth Haines says:


      I love this! My favorite Christmas presents have always been the ones tied to experience. I’m sure the same can be said of Calvin.

      High notes? I like ‘em too. But I like tobacco or earthy low notes, too. And in the deep south, the low notes are very pronounced in the likes of brews served at all-night diners and truck stops. Sometimes I think I might have been raised on the low notes.

  2. Seth, you do have a great way with words. I laughed at that line about cream and Eric Clapton.

    Lyndianne, thank you for the fun poem, which also shows we always have something to learn from the one we’re with.

    Glynn, you give music to form in your poem; it should be read aloud.

    Thank you, Seth, for featuring my half-dozen lines.

  3. Tess Lecuyer says:

    5 Love Haiku to My Coffee

    Morning Coffee:

    You cradle mornings,
    Smooth out my stuttering day.
    Each hot, bitter kiss!

    Hot Bitter Kisses

    Dark as the new moon.
    Curl my fingers ’round your heat,
    Let you breath for me.

    Yet another

    Oh my darling bean!
    Hot in the press this morning,
    Know I smelled Heaven.

    So cold

    The sun she floats up.
    Even cold, you arouse me.
    Ice trails down my skin.

    Love drained and set aside

    Morning grinds to a close.
    Where you once filled me, my love,
    Fragrant emptiness.

  4. How do you take it
    depends so much

    most days on the rush
    you need just to break

    through the fog of “Good
    morning” when your job

    has shifted to the hours
    everyone else is asleep.

    • Seth Haines says:

      “when your job… has shifted to the hours everyone else is asleep.”

      Yes… I know that. That’s when I take my coffee both early and often.

      Thanks for this (as always).

  5. craig says:

    Indianapolis. August 27, 2009

    Afternoon Observations while having coffee @ Starbucks on Memorial Square in Indy, I’m assuming my version of Haiku probably breaks all the rules

    Water streams forced
    Polished stone memorial
    Who thinks of them now?

    Theotokos. Who
    Is this heaven Being? Earth?
    Sons’ lovers’ friend. (just before Eastern Orthodox celebration of the Dormition of
    the Theotokos, my interpretation is probably not very Orthodox)

    Rainbow umbrella
    Gay place to be here today?
    Tomorrow is then.

    What shall I do now?
    All these men pretty faces
    Gait swagger attracts

    Multi-colored toes
    Nails polished rainbow bright
    Conquering sidewalks

    Boys’ curly swarthy
    Cedars of Lebanon gave
    Their cradle shadow

    Every tattoo own thing
    Death T-Shirt on muscle chest
    Armani cufflinks?

  6. craig says:


    Serving time
    at my fav’rite café
    Allen’s last poems
    wait on the table.
    Even reading demands courage:
    He went after it!
    What did Shakespeare say?
    “Better to have loved and lost . . .”

    • Seth Haines says:

      Ginsberg? Because… yeah re: demanding courage.

      I like this one, and the ones above. Thanks for playing here. I hope you’ll come back around this week. (I think you’ll enjoy the prompt.)

  7. Glynn says:

    I took a big swig, the coffee was cold, but somehow this came out:

  8. I take my coffee first thing. . .

    Morning Brew

    Here is
    Some coffee
    For you

    It’s 6:15
    And you are
    Not stirring

    © January 13, 2013, Robbie Pruitt

  9. Upside down
    Could be right side up,
    When your looking at this tall glass cup.
    Settled in the bottom,
    Steamy on the top,
    Another color in the middle,
    It’s a mystery that we’ve got.
    How they separate, when stained
    Or marked as one, a Macchiato with a dash of
    Hot milk, someone make me one.



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