I wouldn’t describe myself as a total monster in the mornings. Other people might, but I wouldn’t. Sure, if you were to ask my old girlfriends, roommates, or family members, they might say that the worst things they’ve ever heard come out of another person’s mouth probably came out of mine during the first 15 minutes after I’d gotten up on any given day. Yes, I have made people cry. I’m not proud of it, but I do cut myself some slack. Before my first cup of coffee, the fugue state in which I find myself every morning is a place of temporary insanity. I often don’t remember the things I’ve said or done, and am regularly confused when I finally come around to find my loved ones teary and mad at some hateful thing that tumbled out of my unconscious mind. If they could only understand: before my coffee, I’m a fragile, skinless man whose only defense against the world is my baneful hostility. My goal every day, therefore, is to find a steaming cup of Joe as quickly as possible for fear I’ll say something I can’t take back.
In an attempt to bypass that problem, I used to set a timer on my overpriced digital drip coffee pot, ensuring that there’d be high-octane go-juice waiting for me first thing in the morning. It was an effective strategy in one sense — I definitely got the requisite shot of caffeine to knock me into civility, and quickly — but the delivery method left a lot to be desired. I have yet to encounter a drip coffee maker that doesn’t scorch the hell out of the first few dribbles, thereby tainting the whole pot with a bitter burned taste.
Since giving up the drip, I’ve made it my mission to find the methodologies, equipment, and beans to effectively brew the best cup of rocket fuel around. I’ve discovered that, although the coffee satisfies my biochemical needs, the process of making the coffee is itself equally important to getting my head right. It’s a Zen-like ritual I’ve found, and it has saved me (and my loved ones) from myself. While I’ve definitely gotten a lot better in the a.m. hours, God help you if you wake me up with an early phone call. There are probably a few telemarketers out there who will never be okay again.
Throw Out Your Automatic Drip
You know those first few drops that sizzle when they hit the empty coffee decanter? That’s your coffee burning, ruining the whole pot. On the higher end, drip coffee makers have gotten a lot better, but you’re going to shell out a lot of cash for something that will still only ever make a passable brew.
Boiling Water = Burnt Coffee
Water temperature is extremely important when brewing a great cup of Joe. Boiling water (212 degrees F) is too hot, and will make the coffee excessively bitter. Using water below 195 degrees F will result in flat, weak, unextracted coffee. The ideal temperature is between 196-205 degrees F. Before you brew, make sure the water has completely stopped bubbling after bringing it to boil, but don’t wait too long to start pouring.