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Never Order Coffee at Brunch

The real problem with brunch is that the coffee is almost always bad

A woman holds a latte in a to-go cup. Shutterstock

This post originally appeared in the November 4, 2019 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

Brunch gets a bad rap for a variety of reasons: long waits, bottomless mimosas, hungover patrons, phoned-in menus, and the fact that it’s a notoriously terrible shift for servers. But nobody talks about the real issue with the meal, which is that the coffee is almost always bad.

It’s espresso shots pulled hastily or drip cups poured out of a definitely-not-fresh pot. It’s served tepid whether it’s supposed to be hot or cold. Also, it never comes as fast as you want it. And then you’re stuck at a never-ending meal, cranky and under-caffeinated, which sets a terrible tone for the rest of the day. My move: Get coffee before brunch.

My fiance and I live in New York, where we are lucky to be able to walk to brunch and stop for coffee on the way, or put our names down at a restaurant if there’s a long wait and pop over a couple blocks to get cold brews from the cafe we know is good. But even when we’re in non-walkable cities, or areas where there might not be coffee shops and restaurants in easy distance from each other, the habit is a good one. In those cases, it buys us the luxury of time — instead of trying to be efficient, we get to hang out, slow down for a second, enjoy a ritual. We can make coffee at home, leisurely, and catch up at the kitchen counter instead of rushing out the door. Or we can leave an hour earlier and check out a spot we’ve wanted to try forever but have never made time for. When traveling, it allows us to maximize our food itineraries by visiting two places instead of just one. And it means we are rarely disappointed by bad coffee and can instead focus, already caffeinated, on enjoying our shakshuka or chilaquiles.

Before you @ me, I’m not talking about cafes with mile-long espresso-drink menus and a tight list of avocado toast, overnight oats, and bacon, egg, and cheese — if you want to while your morning away at a glorified coffee shop, that’s great. But if you’re going out for brunch at literally any other kind of breakfast-y establishment, save yourself the disappointment of bad coffee at a long meal. The rest of your weekend day will thank you.

P.S. If making shop-caliber coffee at home feels like a scary proposition, check out this guide to everything you need to make great cold brew.