I come from a family of coffee drinkers. I grew up watching my parents drinking coffee, and I have countless memories of seeing an empty coffee cup in the kitchen sink – I could just see the remnants of some coffee grounds that made it past the filter, settled at the bottom of the cup.
My parents never put sugar in their coffee – which is actually why people end up wondering how to drink black coffee at all?.
As a kid, I really enjoyed drinking cold coffee – it was my morning drink of choice. Cold coffee is quite ubiquitous, and all families have their own way of making. My cold coffee as a kid was, of course, with enough sugar that I could no longer taste the bitter coffee!
Once I got a little older, and a little more serious about my health and working out, I realized that sugar was a huge and unnecessary burst of calories I was getting through coffee – by this time, I had transitioned to hot coffee – so I completely cut sugar out of the equation, and neutralized the extreme bitterness of coffee with a dash of milk or creamer.
However, using milk or creamer(I’m a sucker for French Vanilla) does really take away from the flavor of coffee – you end up neutralizing quite a lot of the aromas and essences. What you actually taste is the familiar milk or vanilla, mixed with a hint of coffee!
Benefits of black coffee
Black coffee is, well, pure coffee. It’s free of all additives – no milk, no cream, and of course, no sugar or sweetener. It’s the way coffee was meant to be enjoyed, and in fact, when the Arabs first cultivated and began drinking coffee, they never added milk or sugar!
Turkish coffee, a close relative of the original Arabic coffee, is quite similar, and if you’ve found yourself in a Turkish restaurant(or better yet, in Turkey), you may have had a taste.
The Yemenis(some really excellent coffee grows there, in fact, Arabica coffee originates from Yemen and Ethiopia) prepare a drink called qahwa, which is incredibly rich in flavor.
Another type of black coffee that’s really catching on is cold brew coffee.
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At this point, you may not be completely convinced – perhaps you enjoy your sugary or creamy coffee – and that’s up to you.
Black coffee has many benefits, and once you develop a taste for it, you may find you enjoy it even more than what you currently drink.
- For starters, black coffee has nearly 0 calories
- You’ll avoid the fat and sugars found in milk
- You’ll learn to develop a new taste
- Only with black coffee can you learn to pick up the subtle flavor notes found in different coffees
- You’ll never have to worry about being out of cream or sugar to enjoy coffee again
- You’ll be able to enjoy stronger black coffees like espresso and qahwa
- You’ll evolve into a coffee connoisseur
- You’ll be able to look really badass!
How to drink black coffee without sugar
If you have not gotten as far as completely eliminating sugar from your coffee(Starbucks and other chain lattes are notoriously high in calories and sugar), the first step you can take to embark on your journey towards enjoying black coffee is eliminating sugar from your current coffee drink.
1. Experiment with different blends and roasts(find the best tasting coffee to drink black)
If you are using grocery store coffee, STOP!
Forget low quality coffees, and pick up some exotic coffee from your favorite local roastery. Freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee tastes nothing like crappy supermarket coffee.
Coffee grounds start losing their flavor within minutes of grinding. That’s why you need to switch to freshly roasted beans and grind them just before you brew.
Grinding at home
It’s critical you grind at home and not use pre-ground coffee. If there’s just one piece of advice to take away from this post, it’s not grind before you brew.
Manual grinders are cheap and you can find a decent one for less than $30. If you’ve got the budget and don’t want to bother with manually grinding, get an automatic grinder, which you can still find for less than $100.
Even freshly roasted beans are only fresh for 14 days or so. Ideally, you want to buy in small batches.
When you drink the black coffee, don’t down it and be on with it – enjoy every sip and try to take note of the different flavors and aromas you experience. You can also let it cool to varying degrees and notice the taste differences.
Try different kinds of coffees to see which one you enjoy most – some types of black coffee are very fruity, others are chocolatey, others are nutty.
Most coffee beans have a flavor profile on the package or in the description, so just match the flavor profile to what you already like(chocolate, strawberries, nuts, lemon, etc) and try that coffee.
Bean Box, for example, has a nice sampler that contains 16 different varieties of coffee which you can use to brew so many different varieties of black coffee with.
So now that you’re using fresh coffee, if you still can’t handle it, try it with a sweetener.
2. Eliminate sugar
Eliminating sugar may not sound like the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s an essentialstep to enjoying black coffee.
Unless you start cutting back on sugar, you won’t be really tasting the coffee for what it is, you’re just drinking a milky, sugary drink colored brown by coffee grounds!
Ideally, you want to cut sugar right away, so from your next drink, just stop adding sugar – continue adding cream and milk if you need to, though. You can also try adding other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
If you added spoons and spoons of sugar to make your black coffee palatable, then start gradually. Add less and less sugar until you start appreciating the actual taste of black coffee – even though it may be slightly neutralized with milk or cream.
Milk and cream are great ways to dull the intensity of the black coffee.
3. Eliminate cream and milk
Once you’ve eliminated sugar, cut off the cream and/or milk, too. You can do this gradually, too, just like you did with the sugar.
Just begin adding less and less milk – and your coffee will start getting darker and darker, until you’ve developed a taste for and become used to pure coffee.
4. Change your brewing method
Some brewing methods brew stronger coffees than others. Espresso tends to be very strong and intense.
French press tends to be full-bodied and bold.
Drip coffee is quite balanced and a good middle ground.
Aeropress coffee is very clean and flavorful.
Try drinking a cold brew, which is much less bitter than hot coffee. Cold brewing takes more time and more coffee, but the result is quite a pleasant drink!
Check out this post for a detailed rundown and how-to on brewing methods.
5. Drink lighter roasts
Some varieties of coffee are much lighter – and less bitter – than others, so if you want to cut the sugar and calories, want to enjoy black coffee, but can’t tolerate too much bitterness, check out light roasts.
Light roasts tend to be very bright and floral, though they will be a little more acidic, too.
Still, if it’s the intense flavor you can’t handle, light roasts are definitely worth checking out.
Once you change your roast, go back to step 1 and work down again 🙂
Best coffee for drinking black
To start out with drinking straight black coffee, I’d recommend going for medium or light roasts. The resulting black coffee won’t be excessively strong and you’ll be able to enjoy and taste the flavor notes.
Here are some really nice medium and light roasts that you can try:
1. Peet’s Big Bang
The Big Bang blend from Peet’s is a 50th anniversary edition. It has fruity, tropical flavor notes that you’ll be able to taste best if brewed using a french press or an Aeropress.
It’s made with a mix of East African and Latin American beans. This coffee is available pre-ground, so you can brew it right away, though I suggest using it up quickly as grounds don’t retain flavor for as long as beans do!
2. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend
Caribou Coffee is another dedicated roaster that sources and roasts really good coffees. The Caribou blend is made with Indonesian beans, mixed with Central and South American beans as well.
The result is a slightly acidic, fruity cup of coffee with a hint of cocoa. You’ll be able to experience these flavors at different points during your sip. Initially, you’ll feel the acid, and as the coffee sits in your mouth for a short time, you’ll pick up the cocoa and fruitiness too.
3. Kicking Horse Coffee Three Sisters
Another combination of Indonesian and South/Central American beans, Three Sisters is a great medium roast coffee from Kicking Horse. This blend smells absolutely amazing: just open the bag and you’ll get a whiff of dried fruit, coconut, and malted chocolate.
As you grind the beans, you’ll get an even more intense burst of aroma and flavor. It’s awesome! You can enjoy this coffee as a cold brew, too.
4. Coffee Bros. Light Roast
Made from 100% Arabica coffee, the Coffee Bros Light Roast is a punchy, lively coffee that tastes like honey, citrus, and flowers. The coffee cup(made from Ethiopian and Colombian beans) is silky smooth and tastes really vibrant.
Because this is a lighter roast, you’ll be able to see that the beans are indeed a much lighter shade than their counterparts, and these beans will have even less of the intensity and bitterness you’re used to experiencing with medium or dark coffee. If the bitterness is not your friend, give the light roast a try.
5. Real Good Coffee Co Donut Shop
One of the most classical pairings of coffees is with donuts, and the Donut Shop blend from Real Good Coffee Co helps bring that feeling back – without the extra calories from donuts, of course!
This coffee tastes like brown sugar and hazelnut, and goes great as a morning cup – or any time during the day, for that matter. You never really need a time to go to a donut shop, right?
Coffee is one of the most enjoyable drinks in the world, and I wake up every morning looking forward to enjoying a cup of coffee brewed in my french press. It really makes my day. Ever since trying and switching to black coffee, I’ve been able to enjoy coffee more – and my taste buds are experiencing sensations I never knew existed!
If you’d ask me now if I would prefer black coffee or regular coffee, I would say black coffee all the way. If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll eventually learn to enjoy black coffee, too, and you’ll never go back.
Frequently asked questions
How do you tolerate black coffee?
First off, you have to drink coffee worth tolerating! Only drink coffee made from freshly roasted beans and grind just before brewing. The difference between this and pre-ground supermarket coffee is phenomenal. Additionally, you should manage your expectations: black coffee is an acquired taste.
Is it better to drink black coffee?
Black coffee contains just 1-2 calories per serving, and the only way to really experience the multitude of flavors in coffee is to drink black coffee.
What can I add to black coffee?
If you really absolutely need to, try adding cinnamon, honey, maple syrup, or blitzing black coffee with a tablespoon of butter.
Last update on 2020-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API