Photo by Brian Moats
As a barista, I firmly believe that people should drink coffee the way they most enjoy it, but a lot of people who want to drink black coffee don’t think they can. Part of the problem is that popular opinion associates black coffee with John Wayne-like tough guys who wear steel-toed boots and have handlebar mustaches. But since most of us don’t commute to work on Harleys or horseback, it’s easy to see why a lot of people are afraid to drink their coffee straight. Here at the Coffee Compass we simultaneously believe that good coffee shouldn’t “put hair on your chest” and that anyone can enjoy a proper cup of black coffee.
Photo by Ben Willis
Simply put, black coffee is coffee in its purist form. It’s healthier, classier, and simpler than its cream-and-sugared counterpart, and who doesn’t want a healthier and simpler life? That’s why we’ve compiled a surefire four step process for skipping the trip to the condiment bar.
Four steps towards enjoying black coffee:
- Switch to a lighter roast. If you’ve tried black coffee and thought it tasted bitter or ashy, it probably did. There’s a popular rumor that true coffee connoisseurs drink dark roast, but don’t believe it! Like burnt toast or an overdone steak, the longer a coffee is roasted the more you’re missing out on. Conversely, the best specialty grade coffees shine as light roast. You’re going to taste a lot of natural sweetness and other flavor characteristics that are unique to that specific coffee.
- Let your coffee cool. It’s hard to enjoy your coffee if it’s scalding your tongue. Good coffee will taste better after it has had the chance to sit. The best coffees still taste great at room temperature even! I personally like filter coffee best around 130-140F.
- Downsize. You may be able to chug a large mocha shake, but chances are you won’t finish 750ml of black coffee if you’re accustomed to drinking sugary drinks. There’s no shame in ordering a smaller size, and you’ll probably save some money.
- Find a variety you like. Consumers often think of different coffee producing countries as like different flavors, but the coffee industry is increasingly recognizing the role that the coffee’s cultivar, or variety, plays. (Just think: Granny Smith vs. Golden Delicious). Like wine, coffee from the same regions can taste dramatically different depending on the variety. Chances are you have a personal preference for certain coffee varieties, you just don’t know it yet. Whether it’s the elusive Geisha, Kenya’s famed SL28, or a more common caturra or typica, start paying attention to what coffee you’re drinking!
Like anything worth doing, learning how to drink black coffee may take time. The first time you sip on a cup you may not taste all the nuanced flavors- it might just taste “like coffee”. But over time your tastebuds will adjust and your palette will develop. So why not give black coffee a try? A world of new tastes and experiences awaits.