Lois Lane is so many things for so many people. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a highly ethical co-worker, a mother, a wife, a professional rival. Perhaps most importantly of all, she’s famous for being half of the most famous love stories of all time. That’s right, her ongoing affair… with coffee.
Lois Lane is one of the very few canonical coffee addicts in comics. Although the (incredibly true) stereotype of a writer’s room full of overworked and underpaid writers chugging coffee applies to so many writers in fiction, coffee isn’t just a way of life for Lois but also a common plot device.
The coffee trap
One of the earliest appearances of a coffee-chugging Lois was in the Adventures of Superman episode Secret of Superman in 1952. The episode revolves around a generically evil man named Dr. Ort who goes around drugging Superman’s supporting cast trying to figure out his secret identity. This was Phyllis Coates-era Lois, so she’s got that whole His Girl Friday vibe going for her. When she arrives on the scene at Dr. Ort’s house, she starts ordering Jimmy Olsen around, he says, “You’re not going in there alone” to which she responds sternly, “Remember, I’m a newswoman!” Yes, girl, you are! So, she walks right into a trap. Dr. Ort offers her coffee from the moment she walks in, but she slams him verbally and lets him know that she’s a little too smart for any tricks he has up his sleeve. Then, after a very short pause, she says, “but thank you I will have some coffee,” which is hilarious because it’s exactly what any coffee addict would do, even knowing it was coffee from a supervillain known for drugging people. This all wraps up with Superman saving the day, but it does mark an early occasion during which Lois Lane was more than prepared to risk it all for a cup of coffee.
Coffee is the real hero
In Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #18, a story calling The Sleeping Doom, Lois Lane discovers an alien plot to take over her body if she falls asleep. No Superman to be found in this one, so she does everything in her power to stay awake for 10 days straight while waiting for his return, hoping he’ll save the day as he usually does. He does, but not before Lois not only chugs a bunch of coffee but probably gives herself serious burns by spilling it all over herself constantly. Without the magic of coffee, Lois’ body would have been possessed by an alien! Coffee: always looking out for Lois.
Coffee saves Supes
In Adventures of Superman #525, Superman is on the run, terrified of endangering those closest to him and convinced the best way to go about things is to break up with Lois, lose his secret identity, and go on the run forever. Lois is very annoyed with this idea, and says, you know what will fix this? One cup of coffee. She requests that Superman go into a shop and order a cup of Joe as Superman, not as Clark. It’s a huge ordeal, and everyone in the place surrounds him and makes a big deal out of it. When he leaves the restaurant, a very self-satisfied Lois says, “See? You don’t want to do that every time you need to order a drink, do you?” and he admits that he does not. Again, Lois’ love for coffee is profound and true! The power it gives her is great and mighty.
Coffee and Lois: OTP even onscreen
On Smallville, once Clark and Lois both start spending more time in Metropolis, Metro Coffee Shop becomes one of the cultural landmarks of the show. Lois and Clark both meet there often for any number of reasons. Once, Clark even had the nerve to stand Lois up when she asked him on a date there. In the next season, he met up with a blind date at the shop, which of course went horribly. Jimmy Olsen’s ex Chloe tended to go to the shop right across the street from Metro, which, I’m not sure what that means, but it can’t be good. Either way, the street in front of the coffee shop became one of the main locations used after its first appearance in Season 8, mostly to accommodate, you guessed it, Lois’ obsession with coffee.
In the Lois and Clark episode "Chi of Steel," we discover that Lois’s actual worst nightmare is being sent to get the coffee by the boy’s club of publishers. She enters the writer's room very unwilling to take any guff, but when the men insist she run to fetch the drinks, she is appalled and horrified. What a literal nightmare! Don’t they know she’s Lois Lane? Lois didn’t drink any coffee in that episode, but we did learn that her obsession goes so deep that it infiltrates her very dreams.
When even coffee doesn't help
In the two-part mini-series by Mindy Newell and Gray Morrow When It Rains God Is Crying, Lois Lane’s life took a turn for the extremely bleak as she discovered a human trafficking case that everyone was afraid to cover right as her career had taken a dive. To make matters worse, Clark and his new girlfriend Lana Lang kept showing up, her boss was convinced she was losing her edge, and her estranged sister Lucy was very nearly stalking her throughout most of the story. When our girl needs coffee most, she herself admitted through the story that she’d already drunk so much of it that it was no longer working. More than once over the two issues, Lois reaches for coffee, puts the coffee on, or falls asleep despite chugging coffee. This is really the series where we saw the downside of coffee’s addictive qualities, but at the same time, Lois does eventually turn things around — might I add, with the help of coffee.
Stick with your usual brand, Lois
In Superman The Ten Cent Adventure, we are briefly introduced to a new Supergirl named Cir-El, who shows up claiming to be the daughter of Superman. Lois loses her temper and calls Clark out over the teen girl that looks just like him, convinced that he must have had an affair despite the fact that the math really doesn’t add up on that. She refuses to calm down until she takes a drink of her new brand, Yes Coffee, at which time she becomes strangely calm before Cir-El calls her “mommy” and again her blood pressure shoots right through the roof. It turns out later that Brainiac of a dystopian future where Cir-El is from sent back bags of Yes Coffee, which had a nanovirus in it, thus enslaving the human race, including Lois Lane. Unbelievable! Lois was very nearly undone by her love of coffee once more, a love which is known to supervillains like Brainiac so well that they use it against her. Treachery! Cir-El saves the day but the whole story is pretty depressing. Not cool to use people’s daily fix against them, Brainiac! Low blow! This is why Brainiac is the absolute worst.
Thwarting death over coffee
In Super Sons #14, again Lois’ love for coffee comes into play when she’s on assignment meeting with a woman named Chloe at a Sundollar, which is yet another take on Starbucks now that we don’t know what happened to Lexbucks. Possibly she just stopped going to the other Superman Family Starbucks analog, Lexbucks, which would be for the best, considering. While she’s sitting having coffee, Talia Al Ghul attempts to assassinate her. Superboy stops the attempt, then by accident runs into Lois, who casually sips at her coffee as he awkwardly makes excuses for why he’s in Gotham. No doubt Lois is calmed by the bold flavor of her drink, and she gives him a little cheers as she and Chloe go on their way.
Finally, in the real world aka Berlin, Germany, there is a restaurant named Cafe Loislane. A lot of the writing about the cafe is in, you know, German, so I’m afraid I can’t give much else in the way of information, but they do serve coffee, they apparently have vegan options, and it looks like they’re also located right next to a cemetery, so it sounds like a dream spot for our Lois.
There’s no way we’ve really covered all of the times coffee played a major role in Lois’ life over her 80-year history, but suffice it to say it is really a love story for the ages. As one of the only canonical coffee addicts in comics, Lois Lane has been out there repping that coffee life longer than just about anyone.