Tom Petty Made the Perfect Cup of Coffee After a Lengthy Search

Tom Petty was a dedicated musician who worked tirelessly on his craft for decades. According to his biographer, Warren Zanes, Petty was also unwavering in his determination to make the perfect cup of coffee. He began his search at a diner in California and found the way to perfect it one Christmas morning. He shared the relatively simple way to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee with his biographer.

A black and white picture of Tom Petty wearing a scarf and holding his hands behind his head.
Tom Petty | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Tom Petty’s biographer noticed that the singer always had good coffee

When Zanes began interviewing Petty for the biography, he noted that the singer always had a tray of exceptionally good coffee set out. 

“I’d go into the recording studio lounge, no one there but me, where I’d see a tray with two overturned ceramic mugs, sugar, spoons, milk, and a large thermos of, yes, coffee,” he wrote for Rolling Stone. “It was always there. I never saw anyone deliver it or remove it, but it was always hot and fresh.”

Zanes mentioned that Petty was nearly always drinking coffee, something noted by other interviewers.

“Every few minutes, he stands up, walks to the front door, and tosses his coffee into the bushes, then comes back and pours himself a fresh cup,” Men’s Journal wrote in a 2015 profile. 

When Zanes told Petty that his coffee was always top-notch, Petty responded, “You know, Warren, you’re not the first person to say that.”

Petty explained how he discovered the perfect cup of coffee

The quality of the coffee at Petty’s house was no accident. He stopped at a diner outside Malibu with his wife, Dana, and thought that their coffee was “close to perfect.” When he asked, the diner’s manager revealed that they used Maxwell House.

When Petty asked to see how they made it, a peek in the kitchen revealed a Bunn Automatic coffeemaker. These coffee makers are standard for diners and are connected to the plumbing to produce enough of the beverage. Petty installed two in his own kitchen.

The Christmas after this, Petty hired a private chef to cook for his family. The coffee he made was even better than the diner’s. When Petty asked, the chef explained that he used a knife to precisely level off each cup of coffee grounds. The result was, in Petty’s eyes, the perfect cup of coffee.

“It’s good,” Zanes told him. “This really is good coffee.” Petty responded, “You got that right.”

Tom Petty was also particular about his diet

Petty became a vegetarian in the later years of his life when he realized the negative environmental impact of factory farming.

“I eat very sensibly,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “I’ve been a vegetarian for almost five years. I don’t eat fish and chicken and all that. But I will have some eggs. So I’m not technically a vegan.”

He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to ever go fully vegan.

“Rick Rubin [who produced Petty’s 1994 album, Wildflowers] was the first vegan I ever met, and his eyes just shine,” he said. “But I don’t know that I can go that far.”

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