This is a raktajino. It’s Klingon coffee.
Except for Worf, the only actual Klingon serving aboard Deep Space Nine. He drinks prune juice.
The enduring question, then, is this: If rakatajino is so popular, then why don’t any of the Klingons on the show actually drink it? Why is it only non-Klingons who drink a Klingon beverage?
Friends, I’m sorry to break the news to you that raktajino is the chai tea of the Star Trek universe.
If you’re unfamiliar with chai tea, it’s similar to naan bread or manga comics — in that they don’t exist. Chai is the Hindi word for tea; when you call something “chai tea,” you’re simply saying “tea tea.” It’s the perfect signal to anyone Indian that this beverage is Not For Us.
Chai, as traditionally prepared, is made with spices and served black or with some milk. Chai tea is often served with whipped cream or as a latte. Sometimes chai tea is even iced.
(This is not a diatribe against chai lattes. I drink them more often than I’d like to admit. This is just a statement about how, while tasty, they also sometimes make me want to cry inside.)
Now, it’s not quite clear when raktajino was first introduced to the Federation, but the crew of Deep Space Nine drank it constantly. It even gave Dr. Bashir an excuse to consistently sexually harass Lt. Jadzia Dax through the first season.
It’s worth noting that, during the time period that The Original Series is set, drinking raktajino wasn’t a norm in the Federation. That’s understandable, because it was a period of Cold War between the Federation and the Klingons. As we saw in the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribbleations” (in which the Defiant is sent back in time to The Original Series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles"), ordering Klingon coffee was no easy feat at a Starbase.
However, they weren’t the first to order Klingon coffee that day. Actual Klingons visiting the space station ordered Klingon coffee. Which means that it was (and may still be) a beverage that Klingons themselves do drink.
But these are Klingons we’re talking about. They’re fierce warriors, so fierce that their alcoholic beverage of choice, bloodwine, has actual blood in it. They certainly don’t drink their raktajino extra sweet, like Dax, or with makapa bread, as Jake Sisko demonstrated. (When you dip it in raktajino, the bread produces a peppermint-tasting foam. THE KLINGONS SCOFF AT YOUR PUNY PEPPERMINT.)
And they certainly don’t drink it with whipped cream, as Tom Paris did on Star Trek: Voyager.
While raktajino might have become the coffee of choice for humans, Bajorans, and Trill alike, let’s remember that it originally was Klingon coffee. And let’s please never call it raktajino coffee.