STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
So we were broadcasting our stories across MORNING EDITION's Coffee Week when we got a note. Jerry Seinfeld was listening with interest - understandably so, since he launched a Web program last summer called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." And that was really all the excuse we needed to invite Mr. Seinfeld into our New York bureau. He arrived for our chat with a cup of coffee in hand, which he says he would never have done years earlier.
It turns out all those years he spent on the show "Seinfeld" sitting with Elaine, George, and Kramer at Monk's Cafe, he never touched his coffee.
JERRY SEINFELD: I never liked it. And I didn't understand it. And I used to do a lot of stuff in my standup set in the '80s and '90s about how I don't get coffee. I don't understand why everyone is so obsessed with this drink.
SEINFELD: And people say, well, I need it because when I wake up I feel groggy. And I say, well, you just got up.
INSKEEP: It's OK.
SEINFELD: And if you give it a little time, it'll change.
SEINFELD: So that was my old attitude about coffee. And then something happened about five years ago. I've been - I started touring a lot, and we would have these great big, fun breakfasts in the hotel, and it just seemed to go really well with the French toast.
SEINFELD: And then I got married and I had a family, and my entire day was not free for social interaction.
SEINFELD: And eating is annoying, difficult to arrange, hard to choose places. And meeting someone for coffee suddenly seemed like a wonderful, compact, accessible and portable social interaction.
SEINFELD: It's just something to do. My theory is 98 percent of all human endeavor is killing time.
INSKEEP: And this is a way to do it.
SEINFELD: Yeah. This is a great way to do it.
INSKEEP: And you're so right. If you called up someone and said let's just meet on a street corner and chat for 20 minutes, that doesn't seem to make any sense. But...
SEINFELD: Exactly. Now you've - it doesn't make sense. And it's awkward. It's like, you know, these comedians that don't work with the microphone. You know, they have like a clip-on thing or something. It's uncomfortable for the audience. They want to see you with something in your hand. It's more relaxing.
INSKEEP: And it aids conversation because you are working with your hands. You have props. You can look away from the other person when you need to think for a moment.
INSKEEP: Because you pretend to focus on the cream.
INSKEEP: There are things you can do.
SEINFELD: Yeah. I do a little thing about the way people shake the sweetener packet.
SEINFELD: You know, like they're all excited. Like, I can't wait to hear this whole story, they - I want to get all the granules down to one end. I love all these rituals. I don't even really know - I just learned about a black eye yesterday.
SEINFELD: Do you know what a black eye is?
INSKEEP: No idea.
SEINFELD: A black eye is two shots of espresso. Red eye is one shot, black eye is two shots.
SEINFELD: It's very - here's the secret to really being a great coffee enjoyer. You want the sophistication of the snob without the pretension of the snob. You want to know what's going on, but don't be a fussbudget about it. Do you know what I mean?
INSKEEP: Great advice for almost every facet of life.
INSKEEP: Why do you think it is that coffee is so central to our culture, that there's a coffee shop on every corner if you're in a city? That it's just everywhere. That people offer it to you wherever you go?
SEINFELD: Hmm, that is the question. And I think the answer is we all need a little help, and the coffee's a little help with everything - social, energy, don't know what to do next, don't know how to start my day, don't know how to get through this afternoon. We want to do a lot of stuff; we're not in great shape, we didn't get a good night's sleep, we're a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.
INSKEEP: Jerry Seinfeld, would you like another cup of coffee?
SEINFELD: I would.
INSKEEP: OK. We'll get you a top-off there in the studio in New York. Appreciate that.
SEINFELD: Thank you, Steve. Nice to talk to you.
INSKEEP: Jerry Seinfeld, with some final thoughts for our Coffee Week.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: I love coffee, I love tea...