Coffee and doughnuts

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Coffee and doughnuts at a coffee shop

Coffee and doughnuts is a common food and drink pairing in the United States and Canada (where doughnuts are sometimes spelled donuts).[1][2][3][4] The pairing is often consumed as a simple breakfast,[5] and is often consumed in doughnut shops as well as coffeeshops.[3] The pairing may also be served and consumed as a refreshment.[6]

Coffee breaks are sometimes taken as a work break during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon "to consume coffee and doughnuts (or rolls)."[7] In 1989, Harry Balzer, the chief industry analyst of the market research company NPD Group, stated that in the United States, 41–42% of all breakfasts included coffee and that 14.2% of all breakfasts included a doughnut.[8]

Coffee and doughnuts are sometimes provided as a part of events and fundraisers for various organizations, charities, groups and companies.[9][10][11][12][13]


The pairing of doughnuts and coffee became popular in the 1930s after Clark Gable did it in It Happened One Night. And urban legend states actress Mae Murray accidentally dunked her doughnuts in coffee. [14]It became a mainstay around World War II as doughnut shops were one of the few businesses open after midnight. Some doughnut shops would give coffee and doughnuts to police officers in exchange for free policing. Prior to this National Dunking Association had established campaigns for dunking doughnuts.[15]


Some companies use the phrase "coffee and doughnuts" in their business name, such as Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts in Los Angeles, California.[16] Krispy Kreme has provided free coffee and doughnuts in commemoration of National Coffee Day, and other companies have offered discounts or special offers in commemoration of the day.[17][18] Tim Hortons is a Canadian multinational fast casual restaurant chain known for its coffee and doughnuts.[19]

In September 2015, Dunkin' Donuts, a doughnut and coffee shop chain, announced plans to move forward with a delivery program that includes delivery of coffee, doughnuts and other foods, to begin sometime in 2016.[20][21] The delivery program is devised to use a mobile application for ordering products, and will be launched when the company updates its mobile application.[20][21] The program was under consideration in June 2015.[22] The New York Post reported that this was done in efforts to increase competition with Starbucks Coffee.[22]


Coffee and doughnuts provide caffeine, and large amounts of fat and sugar.


In March 2013, it was reported that U.S. taxpayer money was funding the consumption of coffee, doughnuts, and other foods by U.S. lawmakers.[23] Coffee and doughnuts are commonly served at twelve-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.[24]

In language[edit]

The English slang language terms "coffee-and" and "coffee-an" have been used in the 20th century as a noun to denote a cup of coffee and cakes or doughnuts, such as that being the most affordable meal available in a diner or café, and commonly considered to be 'the office diet'.[25] As an adjective, the term "coffee-and" was used in the 1930s relating to money, as in "just enough to buy coffee and doughnuts", and in the 20th century as a term referring to things that are "cheap, minimal" or "second rate".[25]

The 20th century English language slang term "coffee-and-doughnut gun" can refer to a "small, relatively powerless gun", and was also used in the 1920s as a slang term for "a second-rate, unthreatening gangster".[25]

Police are often described as favoring coffee and doughnuts for their rather inexpensive meals, especially in mornings, owing to the generally low pay they may receive for their work. This is common enough for a trope dealing with "cops in doughnut shops" to have arisen.

Others have speculated that the association police have with coffee and doughnuts arose as officers on night shifts used doughnut shops (one of the few businesses open all night in the 1940s) to write up notes, use the bathroom, and have a snack.[26]


  1. ^ Black, Rosemary (December 9, 2010). "Coffee, donuts could make you smarter". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  2. ^ Hall, Parker (November 20, 2012). "Daft Dunk". Willamette Week. Retrieved October 30, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Best Coffee and Doughnuts in America". Imbibe Magazine. October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Rucker, G.; Erickson, M.; Fortgang, L.; Fortgang, A. & Colicchio, T. (2013). Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird. Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-60774-445-0.
  5. ^ Teleky, L. (1944). Industrial Nutrition. Industrial commentaries. Industrial Commentaries. p. 45. it is very unfortunate that so many workers take only coffee and doughnuts for breakfast (if they take breakfast at all!) ...
  6. ^ Shelby County Historical Society (1992). Shelby County, Indiana History & Families. Shelby County, Indiana History & Families. Turner Publishing Company. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-56311-078-8.
  7. ^ Palmatier, R.A. (2000). Food: A Dictionary of Literal and Nonliteral Terms. ABC-Clio ebook. Greenwood Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-313-31436-0.
  8. ^ McMillan, Bo (June 6, 2014). "Disaster brewing for doughnuts—blame coffee prices". CNBC. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  9. ^ Scheen, Lexy (April 29, 2015). "Money raised from coffee and doughnuts helps Churchill Down community". WLKY. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  10. ^ Sentinel, Orlando (April 30, 2015). "Free coffee and doughnuts Friday at some SunRail stations". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Howe, Kaitlyn (September 30, 2015). "Volunteers serve free coffee, doughnuts to veterans at American Heroes Café in Wisconsin Rapids". WJFW-TV. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  12. ^ Hendry, Luke (September 8, 2015). "Coffee and doughnuts for a good cause". Belleville Intelligencer. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Tsai, Luke (October 10, 2014). "Coffee, Doughnuts, and Lifting Up the Young Women of Oakland – What the Fork". East Bay Express. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Why do so many people eat doughnuts with coffee?". 30 June 2021.
  16. ^ Elliott, F. (2015). Los Angeles Street Food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. American Palate. History Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-62585-516-9.
  17. ^ Harris, Jenn (September 29, 2015). "Where to get free coffee and doughnuts for National Coffee Day". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  18. ^ Popken, Ben (September 29, 2015). "Free coffee – where to get it today on National Coffee Day". NBC News. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Hoffman, Liz & Mattioli, Dana (August 25, 2014). "Burger King in Talks to Buy Tim Hortons in Canada Tax Deal". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  20. ^ a b Houck, Brenna (September 22, 2015). "Dunkin' Donuts Is Officially Launching Home Delivery Across America". Eater. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  21. ^ a b Friedman, Megan (September 21, 2015). "Dunkin' Donuts Could Start Delivering Your Morning Coffee Very Soon". Delish. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Coffee and doughnuts on your doorstep: Dunkin' mulls delivery". New York Post. June 9, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  23. ^ Chumley, Cheryl K. (October 10, 2014). "Taxpayers shell out thousands for lawmakers' coffee, doughnuts". The Washington Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  24. ^ Appleton, Nancy (1 February 1988). Lick the Sugar Habit. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-101-66247-2.
  25. ^ a b c Green, J. (2005). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-304-36636-1.
  26. ^ Gustafson, Vicki (2019). His Badge, My Story: Insights for Spouses and Loved Ones of Law Enforcement Officers. Edinburgh: WestBow Press. ISBN 978-1973647508.

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