My Morning Cup features the coffee rituals that most of us have. People from all walks of life — from US senators to ballplayers, subway drivers to college professors — have submitted entries that will run each day.
Here, we reached Brandon Loper, director of ‘A Film About Coffee,’ by phone from San Francisco.
Brandon Loper, 31
Describe your coffee routine. Where do you frequent, what do you like?
I have a young child, so I get up early. The first thing I want, and my wife requests, is coffee. I’m the designated barista in the house. I have the Baratza Virtuoso grinder, which I love. I used the Hario hand grinder for two years, until I could justify spending several hundred dollars on a grinder. I love it. I use that grinder and I usually try to have very fresh coffee at home. I try to be strategic about when I try and make sure it’s within five days. This morning I had a coffee from Saint Frank.
I almost exclusively do V-60 with the white paper filter. I measure everything out. Usually I make two baby cups. My ratio is 24 grams to 380 grams of water for this coffee. We have little Heath Ceramics mugs.
That’s around 7.
Usually after I take my daughter to day care I’ll come back and make a full cup for myself. That’s cup two.
After lunchtime I’ll go somewhere. Usually Saint Frank or Four Barrel or Ritual.
What’s your order?
Usually a pour-over. I went through a phase of getting a cappuccino and a cookie. But I tried to cut back on the cookie. My favorite is a competition cappuccino, which is a single shot instead of two shots. So I’ll do a single shot cappuccino and the espresso on the side. The single shot cappuccino is so good.
When you’re buying, what time? And do the baristas know you?
I still go a lot in the morning. I’ll almost always do the cup at 7 at home. If I’m going into the office I’ll go by Saint Frank on the way to work. I know all the baristas. At Four Barrel they have a pour-over bar. I know the guy who runs that. They try to make me not pay but I always insist.
How do you take it (milk, sugar)?
Just black. And I let it cool down a bit.
Iced or hot?
Almost always hot. On a rare day I’ll go iced latte or iced café tonic situation.
Alone or with company?
Almost always with company. Whether it’s just a barista working there or I’m picking up to be with someone. I really value having coffee with someone. I appreciate that time. If I’m meeting a friend or coworker I try to make it revolve around coffee. I’m one of those people who likes that. I like sharing that with people.
Where do you drink it? Seated or on the go?
Usually the first two cups I’m in motion, whether getting my daughter ready for day care or getting ready myself. I’m taking a sip. The second cup is the same way. Usually it’s in my van heading to the office. But the afternoon cup usually I’m sitting down. I’m meeting a friend for coffee or settled in.
Any simultaneous noncaffeinated stimulation (newspaper, radio, cigarettes, etc.)?
I guess if I’m driving I’ll listen to NPR. So it’s the news and coffee. But at home its “Sesame Street” and a very nice single origin pour-over. In the afternoon it’s my computer or in a meeting.
What time will you drink your last cup?
I try to drink it by 3 or so. Sometimes it’s way sooner. But last night I had a cup at almost 6 o’clock because I knew I had a bunch of stuff to do. I had to stay open till midnight so I said I’ll let it slide this time. But usually I try to have it by 3, the latest 4.
What’s your stance on decaf?
You know, I maybe have one cup of decaf coffee a year. I rarely drink it. And that would be if I’m at dinner and it’s late, like 9 or 10, but I want coffee with dessert. But almost never.
When and why did you start drinking coffee?
I started drinking coffee in college. It probably wasn’t until my senior year of college. I was, I think, 21. I liked this girl who drank a ton of coffee but just regular Dunkin’ Donuts or Folgers and she doused it with hazelnut creamer. I started drinking because she did. I wanted to impress her. It was this sugar explosion. Then one of my friends, we were at a truck stop in Mississippi. He dared me to drink it black. So I drank it. And then from that day on I have always drank it black. It made me realize I could do it.
I wasn’t even thinking about taste. It was like drinking beer. You drink it for the effects. Now you can appreciate it.
Is your wife still drinking the sweet stuff, or did you bring her along?
She will drink the coffee I make in the mornings. But when we went home for the holidays, every day my wife would want a peppermint mocha [at Starbucks]. They do a blond roast pour-over, which is what I got. It’s not good but its not horrendous either.
Describe the most memorable cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
My most memorable, probably, was an Ethiopian natural coffee from a place called Misty Valley. It was roasted by Blue Bottle. I think it was in ’08. I was currently writing a coffee and wine blog that is so bad I won’t give you the Web address. It was a place to journal my thoughts. I started writing it, and then I was writing this is good, this is fun to drink. And then I had this coffee. It was like the blueberry explosion. I loved it. So I bought a bag. It took me several years to figure out what it was.