If you're a coffee drinker, you know how you like your coffee. But, odds are you don't like or haven't tried drinking it black. If you're looking to expand both your coffee knowledge and palate, you need to learn how to like black coffee.
What Is Black Coffee?
Black coffee is coffee without any milk, cream or dairy substitute. Some enthusiasts maintain black coffee also excludes sweeteners.
It might seem simple, but preparing a cup of coffee is much more complicated than you'd think. The journey from bean to cup starts long before you add or, in this case, don't add, milk or sugar. To taste the value of plain coffee, you must understand the painstaking process it undergoes to end up in your mug.
How Is Coffee Made?
Raw coffee beans come from the berries of the Coffea plant, which only grows in tropical or semi-tropical climates with an annual rainfall of at least 70 inches. Once the berries have ripened, they are quickly picked and processed to prevent spoilage. The berries are then processed in one of two ways.
The dry method consists of sun-drying the berries and hulling them in cylinders to expose the seeds. After the outer layer has been removed, the beans are sorted based on their size. Alternatively, the wet method involves washing, pulping and macerating the berries to induce fermentation. The beans are then removed, washed and dried.
They then typically go through a storage period before they are roasted and distributed.
Today, the U.S. coffee market is worth over $75 billion. With all this consumption and popularity, it's a wonder that only 35 percent of coffee drinkers prefer their coffee black. If so many people love coffee and drink it daily, why do so few drink it in its purest form?
Some people add milk or sugar because they like the taste of coffee, but not the bitterness. Others don't like coffee at all and only drink it for the caffeine. However, some coffee aficionados claim you shouldn't need cream or sugar if you drink high-quality coffee.
Benefits of Drinking Black Coffee
While the research on the effects of coffee is limited, many studies have found that, in moderation, drinking any type of coffee:
- Improves energy levels: On average, there are 95 to 165 milligrams of caffeine per eight ounces of brewed coffee. Once caffeine enters your system, it goes to work on several parts of your nervous system. It boosts your dopamine levels, which affects your level of concentration. It also blocks adenosine receptors, which are responsible for telling your brain when it's time to sleep.
- Promotes weight-loss: Drinking coffee alone won't do much to help you lose weight, but it can help boost your progress when paired with healthy eating and exercise. Once again, the caffeine in coffee is responsible for this positive side effect. Although there have been no definitive tests on the correlation between caffeine and weight loss, many experts think caffeine can help with both appetite suppression and calorie burning. Once caffeine enters your system, it stimulates thermogenesis, a process your body uses to generate heat from digesting food, thus burning calories.
- Provides essential nutrients: Coffee beans contain several essential nutrients, like manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin. When the beans are brewed, these nutrients get transferred into the coffee we drink, passing on the nutrients to us.
- May lower the risk of certain diseases: Although experts have not discovered definitive proof, several studies have shown that coffee drinkers might have a lower risk of developing certain conditions. According to some studies, consumers who drink coffee regularly have a 23 to 50 percent lower risk of getting Type II Diabetes, a 65 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's, and a 60 percent lower chance of getting Parkinson's.
- Fights depression: While studies have not been able to prove that coffee prevents depression, experts agree that coffee, when consumed in moderation, can help prevent depression in consumers who don't already suffer from it.
Moreover, black coffee:
- Contains fewer calories: The average plain black coffee has less than five calories and no fat. However, when you start adding ingredients like milk, cream or sugar, the calories add up quickly. One teaspoon of sugar will add about 16 calories, while two tablespoons of half-and-half add about 37.
- Doesn't contain dairy products: If you're lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, black coffee is the way to go. Also, if you can drink and enjoy black coffee, you'll never have to go without the next time your milk goes bad or runs out.
- Enhances the flavor of the coffee: No one knows for sure when humans began consuming the fruit of the Coffea plant, but it likely started around the 15th century in Ethiopia. However, their coffee looked nothing like the black coffee drink we know today, and they certainly didn't put milk and sugar in it. The only way to experience the intended taste of coffee is by drinking it black. A considerable amount of time and effort goes into making your coffee, and the best way to appreciate the process is by enjoying the drink as is.
How to Drink and Enjoy Black Coffee
Coffee is complex. If you're looking to figure out how to start drinking black coffee, you first need to understand what you're drinking. Coffee comes in a full range of tastes, styles, species and strengths.
No matter what the coffee snobs say, the best coffee to drink black is whatever coffee you like the best. Just like any other food or drink, coffee is subjective to our tastes and preferences. To find the best black coffee, try every variation you can, and drink what tastes best to you.
Gradually Reduce the Amount of Cream or Milk
The best way to learn how to drink black coffee is by slowly reducing the amount of dairy you add to it. Start by noting how much cream or milk you add to your typical cup of coffee. Then, the next day, add a little less. Repeat this process until you're used to the flavor of coffee without any additives.
Find What Type of Coffee Beans You Prefer
If you're looking to discover how to make black coffee taste better, you need to start at the source. While there are more than 100 species of Coffea plants, two have taken over a majority of the market:
- Arabica: Arabica is the most common species of the Coffea plant, producing 75 to 80 percent of the world's coffee. Despite its overwhelming popularity, the Coffea Arabica plant is also one of the most delicate, as it's highly susceptible to changes in the environment and disease. When prepared correctly, these beans produce a bright flavor with a balanced level of acidity. It's best sampled in the front of your palate to bring out the sweetness and salinity of the brew.
- Robusta: The Robusta species of the Coffea plant is the second most common, at approximately 20 percent. As opposed to Coffea Arabica, which grows in a wet climate, Robusta thrives in hot, dry climates. Robusta beans also have a considerably higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. Coffee brewed with this species should have low acidity, smooth texture and full-bodied flavor. It's best tasted with the back of the palate, as it helps to bring out the bean's signature bitterness.
Experiment With Different Grind Sizes
An essential step to learning how to make black coffee taste good is understanding grind sizes. They play a major role in the bitterness and acidity levels of the final product:
- Coarse: When you use a coarser grind, the particles are larger and looser, meaning water will be able to pass through them quickly. The limited surface area and shortened brew time results in less extraction, making the coffee weaker and lighter. A grind that's too coarse will also make the coffee taste sour.
- Fine: When you use a finer grind, the particles are smaller and more tightly packed. This makes the water flow slowly through the grounds, resulting in a longer brew time and increased extraction. However, a grind that's too fine will make the coffee too bitter.
Try Different Types of Roast
Roasting is an essential part of the coffee process. It turns the beans from green, spongy seeds into the aromatic, brown coffee beans we see in the bag. Beans are roasted at extremely high temperatures to bring out certain smells, tastes and oils.
If you're on a mission to learn how to enjoy black coffee, consider the different types of roasts. The roasting process drastically changes the flavor, texture and aroma of the final drink. If you don't like black coffee because it's too bitter, try using a lighter roast — if you don't like it because it's too acidic, try using a darker one. Keep trying new roasts and making adjustments to find the one that tastes best to you.
- Light roast: Light roast beans have a light, cinnamon color, as they spend the least amount of time roasting. This type of bean is preferred by coffee drinkers who like a light, mild flavor. You typically won't see any oil on the surface of these beans, as they haven't roasted long enough to bring it out.
- Medium roast: Medium roast beans have a light to medium brown color and produce a sweeter flavor than light roasts. They have little oil on the surface of the bean and offer an even balance of flavor, acidity and aroma. Medium roast beans are often referred to as the "American Roast," as it's the most popular option in the United States.
- Medium-dark roast: Medium-dark roast beans have a dark medium to dark brown color. These beans will typically have a decent amount of oil on them and will produce a slightly bittersweet taste when brewed. In a medium-dark roast coffee, you'll taste more flavor and aroma, but minimal acidity.
- Dark: Dark roast beans have a very dark color with an oily sheen. They produce the most bitter-tasting coffee with hardly any trace of acidity. Dark roast coffee gets more of its flavor from the roasting process than it does from the original bean.
Experiment With Different Coffee Brewing Methods
What does black coffee taste like? Many of the flavors and textures we experience when drinking coffee come from the brewing method. To learn how to make black coffee, you first need to know which method you prefer:
- Drip: The most common tool for making drip coffee is probably already in your kitchen: an electric coffeemaker. In this process, you fill the reservoir with water, add a filter and coffee grounds and press the "on" button. The coffee maker then heats the water, forces it up a tube, drops it into the coffee grounds and deposits the coffee into the pot. It's a reliable method that works well for the casual coffee drinker, but if you're looking to step up your coffee skills, there are other methods you can also try.
- Pour-over: The pour-over method is very similar to the drip method. The only difference is that pour-over is entirely done by hand. The person making the coffee has complete control over the water temperature, pour speed, brew time and more. Depending on the pour-over device you use, you can use this method to make a single cup or several.
- Espresso: Espresso is prepared by finely grinding coffee beans and packing them into a pressurized compartment. Hot water is then forced through the grounds under high pressure, resulting in a concentrated drink with a much thicker consistency than other methods.
- French press: French press is an increasingly popular at-home brewing method. To prepare the coffee, the grounds and hot water are mixed in the French press, which is usually made from heat-resistant glass or metal. After some time, the user pushes a strainer down through the mixture, separating the grounds on the bottom from the coffee above.
- Cold-brew: All you need to make coffee via the cold-brew method is cold water, coffee grounds, a container to put them in and time. Once you've ground your coffee, you only need to put it in a container with cold water and put the mixture in the fridge. After several hours, the water will extract the flavors and nutrients from the grounds, creating a smooth, delicious coffee.
Try the Best-Tasting Black Coffee
At Real Good Coffee Co., we leave the flashy packaging behind so we can focus on the quality and freshness of our beans. We offer everything from K-Cups to bags of whole bean coffee. We also provide a range of blends, including breakfast, organic, French roast and Donut Shop. We're just real good people making real good coffee.
If you're looking for something good to drink that's good for the planet and good for your wallet, try Real Good Coffee Company today.