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 an important step towards getting used to and enjoying black coffee.
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!
Why drink black coffee, anyway?
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.
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
- You’ll 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 coffees like espresso and qahwa
- You’ll evolve into a coffee connoisseur
- You’ll be able to look really badass!
How to drink and enjoy black coffee
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.
- Eliminate sugar
Eliminating sugar may not sound like the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’s an essential first step. 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.
If you added spoons and spoons of sugar, then start gradually, and add less and less sugar until you start appreciating the actual taste of coffee – even though it may be slightly neutralized with milk or cream.
- 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.
- Optional: Drink cold brew
If you just can’t tolerate the bitterness of black coffee, but you enjoy cold coffee, 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! Jamie Oliver has a really nice cold brew recipe you can follow, just don’t go through with the last step of adding cream!
- Experiment with different blends and roasts(find 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. Depending on how coffee beans are roasted and ground, the flavors will vary greatly. Where the coffee is from also plays a huge role in the flavor notes.
When you drink the 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.
Try different kinds of coffees to see which one you enjoy most – some black coffees are very fruity, others are chocolatey, others are nutty. Most coffees 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.
- Brew your coffee perfectly
No matter how you brew your coffee – whether you used a drip machine, an espresso machine, or a french press, do it perfectly! Get the exact measurement for the exact amount of water, and get the water to the ideal temperature, too – using boiling water “burns” the coffee and ruins the flavors. The ideal temperature is between 91 to 96 degrees C – the closer you get to 96, the better.
- 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.
- Grind your coffee at home
The moment you grind your coffee, it slowly begins to lose its flavors – and the longer coffee stays ground before brewing, the more its flavor notes will be messed up. To get the most original taste of coffee, you need to get coffee beans and grind them at home!
How to drink black coffee without sugar
Of course, you might just not be able to palate the bitterness of black coffee, and you’ll have to flavor it somehow. Here are some healthy ways to make black coffee taste better:
- Honey: Honey is the best natural sweetener and mixing a few drops of honey into your coffee will sweeten it up and give it a nice added aroma.
- Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are not the pinnacle of healthy, but they’re certainly an alternative to sugar if you must have sweet coffee
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!