2021 is just getting started but here we have an early candidate for Most Wrong Coffee Article of the Year. In a recent article in The Takeout, Editor in Chief Marnie Shure avers that “the second cup of coffee is always bad.”
There are many problems with this tepid hot take, so let’s start at the top. First and foremost, Shure is perhaps as wrong as a human could be, no small feet of backwardsry; the second cup of coffee is in fact the BEST cup of the day. It doesn’t matter if you are making a cup at a time or doing more of a large-format brew, the second cup reigns supreme, and frankly it’s not even close.
The first cup is purely functional, a means of wiping away the cobwebs and girding oneself for the day ahead. The first cup is wonderful, this much is true, but it is also flawed. Primarily a vehicle for caffeine, the first cup is often consumed at too-hot a drinking temperature to appreciate the flavor nuances. Sure, you could wait for that cup to cool before you drink it, but when you are jonesing for that first fix, you and I both know you’re diving straight in, temperature be damned. And honestly, even if you did wait, without that initial caffeinated clarity boost, you’re probably too sleepy to appreciate all the wonderment that first cup has to offer.
If you make your own coffee in the morning, that first cup is prepared in an undercaffeinated state, hardly with the keenness of mind to handle all the subtleties of a top-notch brew. The sad truth, as literally any barista will tell you, is that you need coffee in order to make coffee. These are the rules.
The second cup, dear friends, knows neither of these flaws. The hotter temperature poses no problem. Say you make a multi-cup sized Chemex (50g in, 830ml out for me), you have your first overly hot cup and pour the rest in a temperature-stable thermos, like a Zojirushi or a Fellow Carter Mug. Once you’ve been reasonably caffeinated by all or most of that first cup, you top it up with a more drinking-temperature-appropriate coffee. And boy do those flavors pop on Cup Two!
And if you are making your coffee one serving at a time, you’ve been properly perked up for the day, such that you are more able to wait patiently for the drinking temp of the new brew to come down. Further, the second go-round making coffee will surely be better and more dialed in thanks to the functionality provided by the first.
Honestly I don't even think the question is up for debate—the second cup is better than the first—but we are not Opinion Emperors at Sprudge and would never dare tell you how to feel. That's why we’re putting it up to you, the people, to answer once and for all. To that end, we’ve created a poll and we’d like to know: what’s the best cup of coffee of the day?
It’s obviously the second but by all means, be wrong publicly should you feel so inclined, I won’t stop you. I’ll be enjoying a perfectly-temperatured, better-brewed cup of coffee at the time when I am most ready to receive its bounty.