You know the scene in the movie “Godzilla” when the French investigator played by Jean Reno takes a sip of American coffee, grimaces and yells “YOU CALL THIS COFFEE?” to anyone and everyone and the world in general that is apparently so willing and even eager to settle for so much less in his beloved national drink.

I feel your pain, Jean. Why anyone would want to drink brown-coloured, weakling water with no taste when they could take just a little bit of time and have delicious, full-bodied, smoky-sweet and dark and deep, double-roasted coffee full of gently sloping wake-up feelings and good dreams – is beyond my comprehension.

But that’s what they serve in practically every restaurant, diner, greasy spoon, pizza parlor, bar, community center, church, temple, fast food joint and truck stop in America.


Here, now, I shall describe the easy and proper way to make the best cup of coffee you will ever have. Once you taste this – you will never fade back into the flocks of brown-coloured water drinkers.


STEP ONE. Get yourself some beans that are roasted not once, but twice. You want those coffee beans to crack twice to really release all their flavor and oil. There are several different dark roasts: Italian, Vienna, Espresso, French. You can go even darker with Spanish Roast, where the beans are roasted past the second crack and just shy of the third crack, in other words, right before the beans ignite! I personally prefer French Roast have drunk nothing but that since around 1978. My wife and I like the reliable quality of Starbucks, but do some research and get the beans you like. (As for Turkish Coffee, that’s a whole different texture and taste, almost like sipping sweetened mud. Fortune tellers often appear for the full ritual.)


STEP TWO. Grind your beans fresh each time. A tip: the longer you grind them (the more your ground coffee looks like dust) the stronger and full-bodied the taste.


STEP THREE. Use only spring water. Every city water system in this country has chemicals in it, and, even with a filter, you’re going to get some coming through. Why would you want to put even small traces of fluorine, chlorine, nitrates or pesticides in your coffee?


STEP FOUR. You can boil spring water and use the drip method, use a French press or an automatic drip coffee maker, whatever you like. I prefer drip. I like to smell that powder of ground beans explode with aroma slowly as it drips through. The important thing is to make it fresh. And forget those single cup Keurig deals. You have to use awful little stale, pre-packaged coffee packets and they taste just like it sounds, no matter how convenient and enticing it looks.                                                                                                                              


STEP FIVE. Drink your wonderful double-roasted coffee. I like mine black, but do with it what you will. It will make you a nicer person and also very smart.

I have spoken, and it is so.

Now that you know how to make great coffee, here’s a song called “Verano” I wrote that began with me going into a store to buy French Roast coffee beans. It talks about how this girl used to come out to see me and my band on hot Summer nights, and there was this mysterious strong connection between us…

Enjoy the song. Enjoy the coffee.

To hear “Verano” click HERE.

Here are the lyrics.

• • • VERANO • • •
words & music by Grayson Hugh

You were leaning in the corner
putting bananas away
I was there for some French coffee beans
you said “maybe when you make a million
you take me out”
and I said “that sounds good”
but I didn’t know then
just how good it was gonna be

I had been watching you
for a while already
you with your brown eyes
like a fawn in the ferns
you used to come out
to hear my group play rock ‘n roll
I used to wonder
how much you knew about me and you
cause I knew something
about you and me

It was in the air like the cool moonlight
shining, shining, shining
out in the summer yards and fields
the last full powerful moon
before September begins to bring out the grapes
I believe we both knew each other
I think we wanted to talk to one another
but Time she was waiting
and hesitating
all the life behind us
and the life she saw before us
the strange rules of destiny taking shape
on the night
when we slowly uncovered
the secret
of you and me
verano, verano
verano, verano….


© 2017 by Swamp Yankee Music/ASCAP




  1. Kumi says:

    For no apparent reason, I looked you up tonight and came upon this entry discussing the fine points of a good dark roast. I remember you coming in to Cheese & Stuff in Hartford every week and ordering a quarter pound of French Roast beans. I’m glad you’re still appreciating your coffee, and I’m enjoying Back to the Soul.

    1. Wow! Small world indeed, Kumi. I actually wrote the song “Verano” about a girl named Susan who worked at Cheese & Stuff when it was on that street that went from Farmington Avenue to Park. Was that the one you worked at? Or was it the one in the parking lot across from Whitney Street? I got French Roast beans there too. Glad you’re enjoying “Back To The Soul”!

      1. Kumi says:

        Yes, Farmington Avenue is where I worked – I can recall one Susan there (though I’ve no idea what’s become of her). ANd I misspoke in saying “for no apparent reason”: I’d just watched “Fried Green Tomatoes” and heard I Remember You… and I remembered you.

  2. Ah yes, I lived at that time, literally next door to Cheese & Stuff – in a house across the street – 19 Whitney Street. It was a big three story house and we (myself, my guitar player, his girlfriend and singer in our band and another friend) lived on the second & third floors. A nail salon was on the first floor. We had a large rehearsal studio space with its own separate door as well. Very convenient to rehearse and, when the inspiration struck, to go down into the studio late at night, make some French Roast coffee and write music with headphones on. Lots of songs of mine happened that way, including “Verano”.
    And it was great to have Cheese & Stuff in the next door parking lot. Besides coffee, I got greens, fruit, cheese, bread and that white whipped honey cream. Melted wonderfully on toasted cinnamon raisin bread!

    1. Peanuts, my friend, everyone has their own unique likes and dislikes, requirements and coul-care-lesses. But coffee is truly one of the pleasures of my life. My wife shares this love of good coffee with me. I even wrote a blues “Got To Have My Coffee”, in which I sing “if there’s no coffee for the mornin’, I just don’t even want to go to bed!”

  3. Bernie says:

    Trader Joe’s French Roast Decaf…yes, decaf, in a French press with 12 ounces of Newington tap water, which is as good as any bottled water, and two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. I like mine Vietnamese style.

      1. Bernie says:

        Sweetened condensed milk is half of it. The other half is that Vietnamese coffee is always made with French Roast.

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