Drinking black coffee.
First, you should know that it is absolutely possible to train yourself to drink black coffee. Most of the tips in this article will focus on ways to improve your coffee itself, so that it isn’t so bitter and acidic. After you make these changes, you will hopefully grow to love the taste of coffee more than the taste of sugar. You will realize quickly that you need less cream and sugar when you start drinking better coffee.
Black coffee is an acquired taste, just like beer and wine and many other different types of foods and drinks. That being said, you probably started with the additives because you couldn’t stand the taste of coffee without them. What if you could stand it? As it turns out, great coffee isn’t screaming for you to mask its flavor with other things. This is why you should start with the coffee itself before trying other tricks.
WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN DRINK BLACK COFFEE?
I personally drink black coffee because I love the taste of it. Anyone who has taken the time and money to invest in learning how to brew great coffee might take offense to all the additives. Aside from the taste, and probably more importantly, the sugary coffee habit poses a bit of a health issue.
If you need some motivation, imagine collecting all the sugar you add to your coffee for an entire year. Can you see yourself filling buckets with it? Do you really want to be running this through your body? The cream really isn’t the issue so much as the sugar, but you don’t really need cream either.
I should mention that before I started drinking black coffee everyday, my sugar with a little bit of coffee habit was easily the lion’s share of all the sugar I would consume in a year. This habit can totally wreck your body. Considering this, it is very important for your health to learn to love the taste of coffee rather than sugar.
1. TRY DIFFERENT BREWING STYLES
If you are new to the world of coffee, you should know about some of the different brewing styles and how they compare. Some brewing styles should be reserved until you have acquired the taste for black coffee. When you first attempt to make the switch, I recommend certain styles over others. This list ranks the most-drinkable black coffee to the least-drinkable based on smoothness and bitterness (in my opinion):
- The caffé americano combines a shot of espresso with water. This drink is super smooth and comes highly recommended.
- Aeropress coffee (American styled) is similar to the caffe americano, although less nuanced in flavor.
- The Chemex uses a thick filter to eliminate most of the body in your coffee, and most of the bitterness as well.
- The pour-over is a single serving of drip coffee where you control all aspects of the extraction, which can be a good or a bad thing (depending on skill).
- French press coffee is ground coarsely and steeped in water for several minutes and tends to dull some of the brightness of the flavor.
- Automatic drip coffee, or coffee from a standard coffee pot, is easy to use but offers little control and is quite often bitter.
- Espresso is a super concentrated shot of coffee…very much an acquired taste.
- Mocha pot coffee is cooked on the stove by passing steam through ground coffee. This coffee is the most bitter on this list and I would avoid it.
At home, I recommend using Aeropress or Chemex brewed coffee as a starting point for drinking coffee black. You may find the Aeropress more useful because it can make different kinds of drinks.
When visiting coffee shops, I strongly recommend the caffé americano. If you want to make an authentic caffé americano at home, you’ll need an espresso machine which can be a large investment.
French pressed coffee with nothing added is also wonderful, but this coffee might be a bit heavy at first. I would work up to it.
If you drink a lot of black coffee, you will eventually acquire the taste to appreciate any method. You will become a better judge of coffee in general and which brewing methods lend themselves more to bitterness.
2. USE FRESH QUALITY ARABICA COFFEE
This is probably the easiest and most noticeable way to improve the taste of black coffee at home. If you haven’t tried a fresh, medium roast of Arabica (not Robusta) beans, you would be amazed. High quality and recently roasted coffee is very smooth with a nuanced flavor.
Avoid supermarket coffee. Most supermarket coffee is typically of very low quality in addition to being stale. This coffee may have been sitting in a warehouse for many months before arriving on the store shelf. The basic idea is that the coffee should taste more good than bad, and stale coffee isn’t doing anyone any favors. There are some exceptions to this depending on where you shop.
If you are not purchasing from a local coffee roaster, look for a roasting date on the bag (not an expiration date). I have seen these dates on Peet’s coffee, and they guarantee that their coffee is no older than 90 days. This is better than nothing, folks. Some of you instant coffee drinkers might want to start with this and work your way up to fresh roasted coffee.
3. USE MEDIUM ROASTED COFFEE
Choosing too dark or light of a roast can affect your transition to black coffee. Light roasts can be a bit pungent with too little roasting flavor, while the darkest roasts can be quite bitter. Avoid French, Vienna, and Italian roasts.
Generally, the darker the roast, the more dominant the taste of the roasting process will be, and at some point it can taste charred. Leave this coffee for the espresso drinks, and go for a medium to medium dark roast (also known as city and city plus roasts).
In my opinion, medium to medium dark roasts offer an appealing balance between the roast flavor and regional bean characteristics.
4. USE A BURR GRINDER INSTEAD OF BLADE
When preparing coffee at home, it is preferable to grind your own beans just before brewing. Additionally, the type of grinder matters. Blade grinders smash beans into different sized pieces and create dust which will result in bitterness from over extraction. Burr grinders grind beans into equal-sized pieces and allow you to adjust the setting if you find your coffee too bitter or weak.
If you are willing to invest in a grinder, spend the extra money to purchase a burr grinder. Owning one allows you to purchase coffee in whole bean form. Whole bean coffee has a much longer shelf life and is easier to store and transport.
If upgrading your grinder is out of the question, I highly suggest looking into purchasing an Aeropress. This inexpensive coffee brewing device is very forgiving with grind inconsistencies. The Aeropress is a very versatile piece of equipment and deserves a place in your coffee collection.
5. USE FILTERED WATER
When preparing coffee at home, you should always use filtered water. Heating up tap water will generally bring out a metallic taste and other unwanted flavors. This will often give the coffee a burnt and somewhat acidic taste. Filtered water makes for a noticeably smoother cup than tap water.
You should still pre-filter water even if your coffee machine has a charcoal filter. Typically, the filter in your refrigerator or even a Brita filter will work better than the charcoal filters found in coffee makers. Although seemingly redundant, it certainly can’t hurt to combine them.
START DRINKING BLACK COFFEE TODAY!
I trust you will find these tips useful if you are looking to make the switch to black coffee. I recommend starting by drinking black coffee on specific occasions, such as when you are ordering desert at a restaurant.
By consciously making an attempt to get used to drinking black coffee everyday, you will train yourself to pick up more of the subtle traits of the coffee. You will care more about the differences between different of beans and feel rewarded for putting effort into getting your coffee right. You will also become much more sensitive to sugar, and find that it doesn’t take much to offend your taste.
Try to implement one or two of these suggestions and periodically test your tolerance for black coffee. Always taste your coffee before adding cream or sugar. You just may find that one day black coffee becomes tolerable, then preferable. Don’t let one instance of bad black coffee ruin you forever. Different types of beans, roasts, and methods all taste very different. You will eventually discover your drink of choice and your ticket into the world of black coffee.
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