A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“My neighbors listen to good music, whether they like it or not” (4/28)
“Why do Mexicans never cross the border in groups of three?"/"Because a sign says ‘No Trespassing.‘“ (4/28)
“What kind of magic does a vegan wizard use?"/"Soycery.” (4/28)
“Running is like coffee, I’m much nicer after I’ve had one” (4/27)
“Don’t just chase your dreams. Run them down” (4/27)
More new entries...

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Entry from September 16, 2014
“Death before decaf”

"Death before decaf” is a popular saying that has been printed on many images. “Death before decaf” has been cited in print since at least 1991, when it was written on a drinker participation wall in a California coffee house.


15 August 1991, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), “Juice” by Nicole Brodeur and Martin J. Smith, pg. E1, col. 1:
We’ll be visiting Diedrich Coffee in Tustin someday soon to scribble our thoughts on its new drinker participation wall, where customers can share ideas about coffee or life.

Two of our favorites were spotted recently by our boss—one heck of a gal who goes by the name of Cathy Lawhon. (Did we mention how much we love her?) They are: “Death before decaf” and “The world is a restaurant. Eat life before life eats you.”

Google Groups: comp.unix.admin
mv changes creation time?!?
J. David Schronce
5/4/92
(...)
J. David Schronce “Death Before Decaf!!”

27 September 1993, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), “Java junkies shake all night to raise funds for hospital” by Tom Berg, Metro, pg. 4, col. 2:
Inside the cafe Sunday afternoon, a message on a bulletin board read: “Death before decaf.”

17 March 1995, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), “Sometimes, coffee just isn’t enough” by Elizabeth Evans, Dining In, Show sec., pg. 39, col. 2:
And they are pleasing to even the most discerning coffee drinkers, including my two favorite 20-somethings — who live by the credo “Death before decaf.”

Google Books
Right to Remain Silent:
A Connor Westphal Mystery

By Penny Warner
New York, NY: Bantam Books
1998
Pg. 112:
She looked me up and down as I stood there in my “Death Before Decaf” T- shirt and jeans.

Google Groups: alt.drugs.caffeine
Pep Pill
Argumentum
6/16/99
(...)
Argumentum Dragon
-=/UDIC Member\=-
Death before Decaf!

Google News Archive
16 June 2003, Lodi (CA) News-Sentinel, “Reunion,” pg. 8, col. 5:
Wearing a shirt at the reunion that stated, “Death Before Decaf,” Pierre would have been proud to cruise his wagon through the Java Stop, order a mocha, and say hello to his extended family.

Google Books
The Practice of Person-Centred Couple and Family Therapy
By Charles J. O’Leary
New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
2012
Pg. ?:
I was wearing black, a Tshirt that has a skull on it and says ‘Death Before Decaf’.

Google Books
EAT: Los Angeles:
The Food Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles

Edited by Colleen Dunn Bates
Pasadena, CA: Prospect Park Media
2012
Pg. ?:
“Death Before Decaf” is the motto at this neighborhood café, and the baristas deliver the goods.
(UnUrban Coffee House in Santa Monica, CA.—ed.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, September 16, 2014 • Permalink