How to Drink Black Coffee
You’re staring at the mug. The mug’s staring back at you. You’re a self-professed coffee lover who drinks a cup every day.
You may even have a few perfectly crafted coffee pictures filling up your Insta feed. But you just can’t drink that black cup of coffee.
Can those of us who don’t enjoy black coffee really be coffee lovers? Or is that title reserved for the crazy among us who drink, and like, black coffee?
Today we’ll help you claim that title. There’s no quick route from sugared and creamed coffee to pure black, but this post will get you there one way or another.
Benefits of Black Coffee
Before we learn how to acquire the taste for black coffee, let’s consider why you’d even want to change up your preferred drinking method.
Black Coffee Is Healthier
That’s what you get in a regular cup of black coffee. Just 2 little calories and no fat. With specialty Starbucks drinks ranging from 190-500 calories, 2 calories sound pretty good.
Even a basic coffee from home with cream and sugar averages around 57 calories. Better than a coffee shop drink but not better than black coffee.
So we can see why black coffee is still allowed by Crossfit junkies and dieters alike. But everything else? No way.
Black Coffee Is Cheaper
So maybe you don’t care that much about calories and fat. What about price? We all know that buying coffee in cafes gets expensive. But does drinking black coffee at home make a difference?
Sure! Because you use fewer ingredients, you can spend less on your overall coffee experience. But there’s a catch. As we’ll see later, buying top quality coffee is a must for enjoying it black.
So if you’re used to buying cheap coffee and doctoring it up with mocha-hazelnut-toffee creamer and Sugar in the Raw, then you might come out equal in price. But hopefully you’re already buying the best you can afford - treat ‘yo self.
Black Coffee Is Simpler
Fewer ingredients? Check. Easier to make? Yep. Pure liquid caffeine? You bet. Go ahead and cross those extra items off your grocery list. Save yourself some time in the morning. Get jittery from caffeine, not from pumping sugar into your body in the morning.
Black coffee makes your morning game much, much simpler. And we could all use some simple goodness in our lives, right?
Black Coffee Is Impressive
Just kidding. We don’t judge how you drink your coffee. But you know that hipster wearing a beanie in summer does. They’ll be impressed with your black coffee drinking skills.
How to Start Enjoying Black Coffee
We can all agree that there are special benefits to drinking black coffee. But benefits don’t make our taste buds love it. So here are 3 basic guidelines you need to start enjoying black coffee.
Buy the Best
Did you know that coffee gets graded? Yep, there are coffee institutes, associations, and graders (3500 of them to be exact) known as the Q system. Their job is to mark consumer coffee as specialty or commodity.
So what’s the difference?
Think of it like craft beer vs. Natty Light. Both get the job done, but one is meant to be savored and enjoyed. Like craft beer, more care goes into every step of creating specialty coffee.
So the first step to enjoying black coffee is buying the best you can afford, and we recommend choosing a specialty coffee over a commodity one. The differences may be subtle at first, but starting with the best gives you the best chance of enjoying it as-is.
Buy It Fresh
Contrary to popular belief, coffee can go bad. It loses its flavor over time, and can even taste spoiled. Flavorless, spoiled coffee won’t help you like drinking it black.
So go for the freshest you can find. Choose smaller bags as you experiment with black coffee. Look for a roasting date and try to finish that bag within a month. Store your fresh coffee in a cool, dry, vacuum-sealed place if possible.
Grind It Fresh
Don’t waste your new, fresh coffee by buying it already ground because it’ll rapidly lose its flavor. Buying whole bean coffee and grinding it right before you brew gives subtler and stronger flavors. This step is essential to becoming a black coffee drinker.
What’s Next? Wean off the Cream (and Sugar)
Ok, so you’ve got the best, freshest coffee and you’re grinding it right before you brew. The next step is to actually take it black.
If weaning off cream and sugar feels like an impossible step, start slowly. And start one at a time. Ask yourself, “Why do I use cream and sugar?” Your answer to this question will help you decide which ingredient to remove first.
Sugar takes away the bitterness of coffee, while cream adds texture to the coffee.
So if you don’t mind the bitterness but dislike the texture of coffee, start by removing the sugar, a little bit at a time. If you’re ok with the thinness of coffee but hate the bitterness, start by taking away the cream.
The Real Deal - Ways to Start Enjoying Black Coffee Today
Still struggling to get that soul-less black coffee down your throat? Here are 5 ways to make the experience better for you and get you on your way to loving black coffee.
Focus on the Brewing Method
If you usually use an automatic drip coffee machine, change it up to a French press. They come in single cup sizes, and once you get the basics down it doesn’t take that much longer than drip.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, try a percolator or a chemex. Experiment with different ways and really get to know brewing. A good brewing method dramatically changes the coffee flavor.
Try the Coffee Spectrum
Bold or medium roast? Single origin or blended? Robusta or Arabica? Fruity? Floral? There are a million different combinations of coffee, so try as much as your wallet will allow. Check out this tasting guide for suggestions or this video for more details about your coffee bag label.
Make It an Experience
Those coffee descriptors we just talked about? See if you can taste them in your coffee and describe them - without looking at the package first. Were you close?
Paying attention to the different flavors helps you appreciate the experience. And it might get your mind off of the menacing black liquid staring back at you from your mug. Before you know it, you may actually be able to taste the difference between your coffees.
Change Your Food Flavors
If you just can’t stomach the bitterness of black coffee, try pairing it with a sweet dessert like carrot cake, doughnuts, or salted caramel cupcakes. The richness of the desserts makes the bitterness of the coffee a welcome change.
You can also get into the habit of eating dark chocolate. It has a similarly bitter flavor but a velvety texture and may help you develop a fondness for dark coffee as well.
Go to a Coffee Cupping
A what?! Coffee cupping is the tasting technique used to rate coffees. It used to be an “experts only” thing, but now anyone can get in on one.
A cupping makes for a unique event, perfect for someone who wants to up their coffee game. You’ll be led through a variety of coffees, usually from different origins and with different tasting notes. You can find cuppings at specialty coffee shops or roasteries (just Google one near you and see what’s up).
If you screw up your brew (we’ve all done it) and it’s too bitter to drink, don’t worry. Just add a pinch of salt. Trust us on this one.
Best Black Coffee for Beginners
You might be feeling overwhelmed with information or unfamiliar words. We don’t want you to give up before you’ve accomplished your goal, so here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- Medium to light roast
- Flavor notes (also called tasting notes or cup notes) you already like (e.g. if you like chocolate, look for chocolate notes)
- Specialty grade - give one of these a try
Do you feel ready to take on the black coffee world now? Just remember, it’s a process that’ll take time to learn. If you do nothing else, at least start with basics: best coffee, fresh grind, good brew method. You’ve got this!