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How To Drink Black Coffee (And Actually Enjoy It!)

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For many, the idea of sipping a cup of black coffee is often met with wrinkled noses and raised eyebrows. And often the question isn’t just how to drink black coffee, but how to enjoy black coffee too! Yet, this seemingly simple beverage holds a depth of flavors and aromas just waiting to be explored…

So whether you’re a coffee novice looking to embrace the boldness of black coffee or you’re a seasoned coffee enthusiast wanting to appreciate the nuances of drinking black coffee, this article is your guide to savoring every drop.

I share practical tips and techniques that will not only help you make the switch to black coffee, but genuinely enjoy it. Plus, I share the benefits of drinking coffee black and some tricks to make black coffee taste good too.

top view of cup of black coffee on white background.

What Is Black Coffee?

Black coffee is made by brewing coffee grounds with water. It has no milk or creamer added and in its purest form has no additives or sweetener either.

Black coffee can be brewed with many different types of coffee maker and enjoyed hot, cold, blended and iced.

Depending on the brewing method chosen the taste of black coffee can range from bold and robust to light and delicate.

Lovers of black coffee appreciate the simplicity to brew, the nuanced flavors and aromas of the coffee roast and the lack of calories in their cup.

How To Enjoy Black Coffee

For those of us not naturally drawn to black coffee, it can be an acquired taste. But just as our food tastes can change over time, rest assured it is possible to adjust to drinking black coffee, and even enjoy black coffee drinks!

In the next section I share 10 tips for changing your coffee habits so you can enjoy black coffee. Not all tips will resonate with you, but I have no doubt you will find a few that work for you.

So whether it simply became a habit to add sweetener or milk to black coffee, or your workplace coffee was always too bitter to enjoy black, these strategies will help you enjoy black coffee more.

When you have success, drop a comment below and let me know which technique worked for you!

How To Drink Black Coffee

Outlined below are 10 helpful tips to transition you from white coffee drinker to black coffee.

You will most likely need to adopt several of these strategies to fully embrace and enjoy drinking black coffee.

1. Go Cold Turkey

This isn’t a strategy I recommend, but hey, some of you are strong willed (or need to transition quickly) and this is the only way to make a change!

Cut the cream and sugar all together, endure the pain for a few weeks and gradually your tastebuds will begin to adjust to and appreciate the black coffee taste.

It is a hard core strategy but for some people this is the only way.

Pro Tip: To help reduce bitterness when you start, dilute the coffee with a little hot water. As you adjust to the taste reduce the amount of water added.

If you take the cold turkey approach, I strongly recommend you also take a look at Tip 3 and Tip 6 below to find new black coffee flavors you enjoy.

2. Retrain Your Palate Gradually

Gradually retraining your palate to the taste of black coffee is my recommended strategy for how to enjoy black coffee.

This option is a gentler approach to going cold turkey. It gives your mind, body and tastebuds time to adjust to the new normal.

Just like your tastebuds develop a preference for sweet or savory food, they also become used to coffee a certain way. It can take a while to retrain your palate to enjoy a black coffee drink but it is possible.

Retraining typically involves two major changes:

  • Removing the sugar or sweetener
  • Cutting the milk or creamer

Let’s take a look at each of these steps in detail.

Step 1: Cut the Sugar (if you don’t add sugar, skip to step 2).

It’s a sad fact that sugar does nothing to enhance the natural flavors of coffee and has serious calorie implications.

So the first step is to cut the sugar from your coffee.

pouring sugar into cup of black coffee with x through sugar.

If you typically add one teaspoon of sugar, reduce it by a quarter or half until you don’t notice the difference anymore.

Once you adjust to the taste, cut it again and repeat until you have completely removed sugar from your coffee.

This process of gradual elimination may take days or weeks but you will be surprised how your taste buds adapt to the change.

Pro tip: The secret to success in this step is to reduce the sugar gradually.

I used to add sugar to both tea and coffee. Now I can’t stand the taste of sugar in either drink!

Step 2 – Reduce the Milk

Once you’ve cut the sugar, the next step is to remove the milk or cream in the same way.

Warning: Milk is naturally sweet and changes both the texture (mouthfeel) and taste of coffee. So for many people, removing milk is harder to do than cutting sugar from coffee. So take it slow.

Reduce the quantity of milk in your coffee SLOWLY and only cut more milk once you don’t notice the difference from the previous reduction.

pouring milk into iced black coffee with x through milk.

Continue reducing the amount of milk as you adjust to the taste until it is completely removed.

It took me months to achieve this step and that’s okay. Just stick at it and you will succeed.

Pro tip: This step can be difficult when you frequently order coffee out. Explain your mission to the Barista and let them help you.

3. Try a Different Coffee Brewing Method

If once you start to reduce the milk and sugar you don’t enjoy the taste of your coffee, one of my best tips is to try a different brewing style.

Some coffee brewing methods (like with an espresso machine) produce a robust flavored coffee and can take a while to appreciate when drinking black coffee.

Other coffee makers, like a coffee urn, are difficult to brew great tasting black coffee in and will taste bitter no matter what you do.

different coffee brewing methods lined up on bench.

So if you normally brew drip coffee, try a pour over or french press. If you make espresso, try a cold brew instead.

If the coffee at work is awful, invest in a portable coffee maker like the Aeropress to make your own.

There are so many different types of coffee maker for home brewing – and the flavor they produce varies, a lot.

And if there are multiple people in the home who like different styles, take a look at a 2 way coffee maker to please everyone!

Pro tip: If you don’t own other coffee brewers, they make a great gift idea!

Some of the smoothest black coffee drinks to try are:

4. Try Additive Alternatives

If you find you just don’t enjoy black coffee without the sweetened flavour of milk and sugar, a good tip is to try an alternative sweetener or additive for a while.

Cinnamon and cacao are good choices as they have a low calorie impact and are not very sweet. See more good flavor ideas here.

Pro tip: If you’re struggling with the bitterness, try adding a pinch of salt.  Add a small amount at a time and see if you like the taste.

Another idea is to add lemon or lime to your espresso like in these coffee drinks.

spices to add to coffee.

5. Buy Good Quality Coffee Beans and Grind At Home

There is no doubt that choosing the best quality coffee beans that are freshly roasted will improve your chances of enjoying black coffee.

Good coffee roasters take the time to extract the natural flavors from good quality coffee beans. As a result they are more likely to be well balanced and smooth tasting, which is what you need when learning how to drink black coffee.

And by fresh I mean roasted and consumed within a month. If there is no roasted date on the pack there is no way to tell how fresh they are.

Older coffee beans will have a stale, bland taste that will not help your mission to switch to black coffee.

Where to buy fresh coffee beans

  1. Seek out a local café or store selling freshly roasted coffee beans.
  1. If you have an Amazon Prime subscription you can have freshly roasted coffee beans delivered in 2 days. Just make sure you are ordering from a supplier that guarantees freshness.  Sign up to a 30 Day Free Trial for Amazon Prime here today.
  1. A coffee subscription is another good option for freshly roasted beans on demand.  Many companies, like Driftaway Coffee, Trade Coffee and Atlas Coffee Club will tailor your subscription box based on your personal preferences.

Click here to compare the subscription options available with Atlas Coffee Club.

Grind beans at home

As well as buying fresh coffee beans (or roasting coffee at home), it is essential to freshly grind your beans at home for the best tasting coffee.

Ground beans start to lose their flavor within minutes of grinding. Yes, minutes.

So to ensure the flavors are in your cup and not evaporating on the shelf, buy whole beans and grind at home. If you are just starting out, a manual coffee grinder is a great, cheap option.

Alternatively, a coffee maker with grinder will ensure you use freshly ground coffee beans every time.

6. Try Different Coffee Bean Blends

Drinking black coffee opens up a new world of flavors and it is an exciting time to explore and find new favorites.

There is a huge range of coffee bean blends out there to explore and you’ll discover that some roasts taste better depending on the brewing method.

Coffee blends that taste great when made with milk often don’t taste so great in a black coffee drink. Dark roast beans are a perfect example of this:

  • With milk, the flavour of dark roast beans still cuts through but isn’t overpowering.
  • But without the milk to soften the bitterness and robust flavour notes, some dark coffee beans can be hard to enjoy as a black coffee drink.

A more delicate light or medium roast will be less bitter and robust. I recommend you experiment with light and medium roasts in order to enjoy black coffee more.

Pro tip: If black coffee upsets your stomach, try low acid coffee beans. See my top low acid coffee beans here.

If you’re ready to try something new, see my coffee bean reviews below:

topview of different coffee roast levels.

7. Get Your Local Barista To Make It For You

If you’re struggling to make a good black coffee at home, a good tip is to head to your local café and ask them to recommend a brewing method and make it for you.

Often it isn’t the method or beans or coffee maker that is the problem, it is the home barista doing the brewing…

Seeking the help of an experienced barista to show you how good black coffee can be is often incentive enough to do more research on how to make coffee taste better at home.

8. Experiment At Home

Once you know what good tastes like, it’s time to experiment brewing at home. Black coffee is a whole new world and you need to find a style of coffee you enjoy.

Making coffee at home gives you control over the process, the quality of the beans and allows you to experiment with different brewing methods.

I think you are more likely to have success with the switch if you also experiment with coffee styles at home.

Some things to try include:

  • Make black coffee on an espresso machine, a drip coffee maker, pour over or with a French press and compare the taste.
  • If you have an espresso machine, try an Americano, an espresso, a ristretto and a long black.
  • Find some new cold black coffee recipes to try in this list.

9. Perfect Your Coffee Making Process

When we add cream and sugar to our coffee, the nuances of the flavors in the coffee are muted.

This means you don’t notice when the ratio of water to coffee isn’t right. Or the coffee isn’t as fresh.

So when learning how to drink coffee black, I suggest you pay more attention to HOW you make the coffee.

  • Is the water ratio right?
  • Are the beans freshly ground?
  • Is the water temperature right?

All of these things will impact the quality and your enjoyment of black coffee.

There is a reason baristas use a coffee scale and why gooseneck kettles exist.

A coffee scale is probably one of the best investments to making a consistent coffee. You can see my full review of the best coffee scales here.

10. Take a Small Taste

Finally, before you add your milk and sugar, take a sip of the coffee black.

It seems like a weird thing to suggest, but making a coffee is such a ritual that we never even think to do something different.

And habits are hard to change. So next time you make your coffee, stop and taste it before adding the toppings. You may just surprise yourself!

Infographic with tips on how to drink black coffee.
How To Learn To Like Black Coffee

What Is The Best Coffee To Drink Black?

In terms of the best tasting coffee to drink black, there are many different styles of coffee and it comes down to personal taste.

The best coffee to drink black is any coffee brand that uses high quality, freshly roasted arabica beans.

Each coffee growing region around the world has distinct flavour profiles.  For example:

  • Kenya and Tanzania are African coffees renowned for light bodied, fruity flavour notes.
  • Indonesia is well known for heavy bodied, low acid, earthy flavoured coffee beans.
  • South American coffee beans tend to be medium bodied, medium acid with strong caramel flavors.
  • Central America is renowned for medium body and well balanced sweetness in their coffee beans.

So learning how to enjoy black coffee is a great chance to try different roasts and brands to find new faves.

What Are The Best Coffee Beans for Different Brewing Methods?

If you enjoy making espresso coffee, you will find a new favorite coffee from in my list of the best coffee beans for espresso.

Want to experiment with a French Press, here are some great coffee beans to try.

For drip and pour over coffee makers, this Kicking Horse Three Sisters is a great choice.

If you want to try making cold brew coffee, I share my favorite cold brew coffee beans here.

What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Black Coffee?

There are many logical reasons to drink black coffee (and some not so logical reasons too!).

So to get you started on your quest, I thought it would give you a little extra motivation to share 5 great reasons to drink coffee black.

1. Fewer Calories

Counting calories is never much fun, but there is no getting away from the fact that in the white coffee vs black coffee calorie challenge, black coffee wins hands down.

The USDA National Nutrient Database states a standard cup of black coffee has just 2 calories. That’s right, 2!!

With 1 teaspoon of sugar, add 16 calories.  With 1 oz of half and half add another 37 calories. Even 1 oz of fat free milk contains around 10 calories.

Some popular coffee drinks at Starbucks contain the same number of calories as a McDonalds Big Mac.

You can see where this is going. When you drink black coffee you’re consuming less calories with every cup.

If you drink a lot of coffee or calorie intake is of concern, cutting cream and sugar from your coffee is a great place to start.

2. To Taste The Coffee

In times gone by cream and sugar was often added to mask bitter and musty coffee flavors in poor quality coffee. Unless it was Kona coffee!

However over the past decade, specialty coffee standards have improved and there is more high quality coffee available to all of us at an affordable price.

So there has never been a better time to try black coffee.

By drinking coffee black you can experience the vast array of flavors in a way you never can when you drink white or sweetened coffee.

3. Coffee Is Good For You

There is a lot of research showing the health benefits of coffee.

Not only is coffee high in antioxidants it’s also thought to:

One of the problems when adding cream and sugar to your coffee is they reduce the flavors and benefits of coffee.

Plus sugar consumption is an ever increasing problem with profound health issues.

By switching to black unsweetened coffee you can be confident you’re getting all the health benefits of coffee without the negative impacts of sugar and the calories of milk.

4. Black Coffee is Cheaper

A black coffee is generally the cheapest option on the menu at your local coffeehouse. Way cheaper than a fancy frappuccino and even cheaper than a latte.

Plus drinking coffee black makes it much easier to make good coffee at home. No need for fancy milk frothers or fully automated machines.

Even better, think of all the cash you get back in your pocket when you stop purchasing as much sugar, milk, creamers, syrups, sweeteners…

If your bank balance is a motivation, it’s black coffee for the win!

5. Black Coffee Is Always Available

Have you ever ordered a cup of coffee at a coffeehouse only to realise they don’t have your favorite creamer, milk or syrup?

Have you opened the fridge in the morning and realised, with a gasp of shock and dismay, that you’re out of creamer?

Black coffee makes life simple. No extras, no need to have milk on hand, quick and easy.

Whether you’re at home, travelling for work or camping in the outdoors – it’s always possible to enjoy a great cup of black coffee once you know how to make it (and enjoy it).

top view of cup of coffee on blue background with text overlay how to drink black coffee.

Are You Ready To Make The Switch?

Remember there is no right way to drink coffee. It might take a few tries to make the switch. You may decide black coffee is not for you.

Either way, it is worth experimenting, challenging habits and trying a new style of coffee drink.

You may even find a new favorite brewing method. Give it a try and let me know how you go.

More Coffee Brewing Guides

Want to find out more about black coffee brewing methods? You may like:

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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How to drink black coffee
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Rachel Rodda

It's no surprise that as a former barista and founder of Creators of Coffee, I'm obsessed with all things coffee. I love to share easy and delicious coffee recipes, expert brewing tips and helpful coffee gear reviews with my fellow coffee lovers!

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