The old adage is that people don’t go to the movies to see characters, they go to see themselves. Identifying with what’s on the big screen is what keeps us going back for more. For coffee drinkers, the beverage that makes the world run has been woven into cinema throughout the years. Here are 11 of our favorite coffee scenes from movies:
1. Heat (1995)
“How you doing? What do you say I buy you a cup of coffee?” With that line, the stage was set for a showdown of cinematic icons Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. De Niro’s career criminal and Pacino’s obsessed detective sit across from each other, exchanging lifestyle philosophies, veiled threats and drinking coffee like a couple of regular fellows.
2. The Usual Suspects (1995)
If you haven’t seen it by now, the statute of limitations on spoilers has long since expired. Even so…SPOILER WARNING! Chazz Palminteri’s Agent Kujan spends the movie relentlessly interrogating a low-level criminal, trying to uncover the identity of mythic underworld boss Keyser Soze. Much like a jolt of energy after a sleepy morning, the answer can be found at the bottom of his cup of coffee.
3. Elf (2003)
Being home to the “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” is a bold claim, but it can definitely turn a few heads, including that of Will Ferrell’s naïve and overly positive Buddy the Elf. Although Buddy’s love interest Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) is less than impressed when she samples the coffee, perhaps she didn’t see the sign.
4. Role Models (2008)
In 1986, future Starbucks boss Howard Schultz opened his first coffee shop in Seattle. Rather than go with conventional sizes (small, medium, large) he decided to get fancy. As a result, grande and venti entered the coffee drinker’s lexicon. In this scene, Paul Rudd’s character has had enough of Starbucks’ confusing sizes and lets the barista know about it. This movie came out in 2008, which may not be clear because Paul Rudd has looked exactly the same for venti years.
5. Sudden Impact (1983)
There is nothing sweet about Clint Eastwood’s hard boiled cop Harry Callahan. Not his demeanor, not his words and not his coffee. Everyone knows the iconic line “Go ahead…make my day,” but if not for a waitress pouring an egregious amount of sugar into his usual black coffee, the line would have never been uttered (and those punks would have gotten away).
6. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Air travel can be stressful for a number of reasons. Uncomfortable seats, cramped bathrooms and low-quality food. All of that is tolerable as long as there is still coffee on the plane. In this scene from the parody classic, passengers are relatively calm until they find out the worst part of an already bad situation.
7. Best In Show (2000)
The sheer volume of coffee shops, especially Starbucks, plays a role in this absurd how-they-met story from Christopher Guest’s mockumentary classic. Show dog owners Hamilton and Meg Swan’s entire relationship is formed by their mutual love of catalogues, Macbooks and coffee.
8. Thor (2011)
Even the God of Thunder loves a cup of joe. In his first turn as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the hammer-wielding Asgardian finds himself banished to a small town in New Mexico, where he discovers a delightful drink…and makes a mess while expressing his affinity for it. Another!
9. Miss Congeniality (2000)
Working for the FBI probably comes with a lot of perks, but Sandra Bullock’s Agent Gracie Hart is never more relatable than when she flashes her badge to push to the front of a congested crowd, only to reveal it’s not a crime scene, it’s a Starbucks. Admit it, if you had the badge you’d try it too. Bonus points for snagging that compilation CD.
10. The Bucket List (2007)
One of the biggest coffee appreciators in the history of cinema, Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) has a very specific type of coffee he favors; Sumatra-grown kopi luwak coffee. It’s the world’s most expensive coffee, so it’s understandable that it would be the preferred choice of a man who has everything. What he didn’t expect? It is made from partially digested defecations of the cat-like Asian palm civet. Yes, it is coffee made from poop. Remember that if you ever see it on a menu.
11. Glengarry Glen Ross (1991)
How else could we close out this list? An iconic scene that limited coffee consumption in the offices of Premiere Properties to closers. Mitch & Murray’s obscenely named corporate motivator from “downtown” stops poor Shelley Levine in mid-pour, then delivers a monologue for the ages. There are many perks to closing a deal at this office. A nice commission, maybe a set of steak knives and most importantly, a cup of coffee.