Last Call: The second cup of coffee is always bad, and other mysteries of the universe

Marnie Shure
·2 min read
Raw organic Arabica variety coffee beans and a coffee mug of glass on a straw background
Raw organic Arabica variety coffee beans and a coffee mug of glass on a straw background

“I think about this at least once a week” is a catchphrase on Twitter that gives the author carte blanche to share the memes, news stories, and other internet ephemera taking up space in their finite brain fibers. It’s a nice way to cast various oddities out into the ether at random, seeing if any fellow Twitter users tug on the line with their shared memory of the thing. If I had to pick just one (and there are many), this is a tweet that I don’t just think about weekly. I think about it daily, as I prepare my morning coffee.

“The first cup of coffee is so good that it encourages the second cup,” tweeted writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner back in April 2020, “but the second cup is always bad. Why??”

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Why indeed. It’s a mystery that hundreds of people glommed onto and attempted to explain away, with little success. Some people said the problem was a drip coffee maker, which continues cooking the coffee and turning it bitter—but Taffy pointed out that she makes one cup at a time. Others said that the problem was the type of roast being brewed—but I’ve encountered the Icky Second Cup Problem no matter which beans I buy. Others formed a compelling theory about how the psychology of the first cup is more exciting than the second, infusing that initial sip with more positive associations. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility was a dry suggestion that came up more than once. One particularly melancholic response was that “The first one solves the problem of waking you up; the second is expected to solve everything else, so it’s destined to fail.”

You can surely see why this question flutters around my head when I reach for the carafe each day. That said, I always do reach for the second cup. And it’s never as good as the first.

What food mysteries do you struggle to solve in your own life? What food tweets understand you on a level you never even understood yourself?