The norm, especially here in the UK, is to drink coffee with milk (and sugar and sweeteners are also popular).
However, drinking it black can not only benefit anybody who is trying to lay off the dairy but also anybody who wants to begin to understand coffee a bit more.
Coffee is filled with unique flavours, particularly if you buy speciality. The addition of cream, milk and sugars dulls these flavours, and can even mask them entirely for some people.
But anybody who has relied on milk and sweeteners from the beginning can struggle to adapt to the new flavours and strength, which is why it can be a bit of a learning curve. Once you adapt, it is unlikely that you will ever go back – although it isn’t completely necessary to never have milk again!
Tips For Drinking Black Coffee
It may sound unappealing, but there are a few things you can do to adapt to black coffee easier.
- Try different coffees
Think about your ideal flavour from the coffee.
Is it naturally sweet, floral and light? Chocolatey and rich? Strong and dark with hints of burnt toast and a bitter aftertaste?
Different blends and roasts will give you different results, especially when there is nothing else in the cup to alter the taste. Single-origin coffees will likely have the strongest, most vibrant authentic flavours, and light roasts will be the least bitter.
If you are dreading a life away from milk, opt for a coffee blend which is creamier. This may make things easier, and then you can always change once you get used to black coffee
- Taste test
Have you ever actually tried your regular coffee without milk, or are you always just on automatic pilot when preparing it? Who knows – you may actually think it isn’t too bad!
If you currently would rather throw the coffee away when you notice there is no milk in the fridge as opposed to forcing yourself to drink it, you may find that you even prefer the taste of it without the extras
- Gradually alter the cream and sugar
You don’t have to go cold turkey. Slowly reduce the amount you take in your coffee every day until you get to the point where you can tell the difference. You may be surprised at how far you get.
Measure just how much you usually put in your coffee to a tee and use this as a baseline. Every week, leave out a quarter. You can go at your own pace if you think you can handle it, too.
If you reach a point where you can’t adapt any further, leave it for two weeks instead of one to adjust
If your coffee still bitter despite having tried everything? Add a bit of salt.
- Or, go cold turkey after all
Are you better at quitting bad habits right there and then? If so, you may find it easier to vow never to buy milk and sugar again rather than slowly working away from it. Determined people will often be able to wonder why they ever had milk within 2-3 weeks. It usually takes 21 days to break a habit
- Pick the right brewing method
Pour-over coffee is usually the most expressive due to the filtration, which adds clarity to the cup, as well as the amount of water used in relation to the ground coffee. But it is also one of the lightest.
However, french press is an immersion method, so the end result is full-bodied and powerful. For this reason, it is okay black but best with milk. Cold-brew is perfect for something full of taste yet light and fruity.
As you can see, every method will give different results. If you can’t stand the results from your cafetiere, try something else
- Consider freshness
Correctly stored coffee beans, which have been roasted and ground just before use, will be the freshest possible. Fresh beans mean a more intense, true flavour, so if your coffee tastes a bit dull and lifeless with none of the flavours advertised on the back, they may be past their prime
- Change your mug
Sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? But studies have shown that a white mug enhances the perceived “intensity” of the coffee flavour, so we go in drinking it assuming it will be stronger and bolder in taste. But coffee from a transparent mug was seen as the option which people thought to be less strong.
A study called “Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee?” in 2014 was the biggest to have shown this, after Federation University Australia’s George Van Doorn had a conversation with a barista who claimed coffee from a white mug tasted more bitter than that from a clear mug.
This could simply be because of the contrast in colours – our eyes perceive what we eat and drink before it has even reached our tastebuds. So, invest in some clear mugs if you’re going black.
Why Black Coffee Is Best
We have already mentioned the heightened taste sensation you are likely to get from a black coffee vs. one with milk.
And while we are big fans of lattes, cappuccinos, and all other frothy coffees and aren’t suggesting you ditch it forever, it can be nice to have the option.
Milk and sugar will add calories onto your drink, and you may also wish to cut down on dairy for health or ethical reasons (although plant-based mylks are available). Adults should only have 30g of free sugars a day so that teaspoon in your lunchtime coffee can have a huge impact.
Drinking coffee black also saves on pennies, with no milk and sugar to buy – especially handy if you can order an Americano when out rather than a milkier option.
We will, however, say that there are loads of articles out there claiming that black coffee is great for you health-wise. A lot of what is said isn’t proven, so don’t just switch to black coffee thinking it is the healthier option with lots of benefits!