Switching to black coffee is a big deal, but it can be done. I used to have my coffee black for about 6 years, at first out of rebellious youth, then out of habit. Then I switched to milk and a tiny bit of sugar. Oh my.
The benefit of that stunning 180 is that I can confidently drink coffee in all of its forms, and know which I truly like. I also don't mind when the host runs out of sugar or cream, so that's a win for me I guess.
But let's see how you can switch from milk and sugar to black coffee, in a relatively quick and painless process.
Determine why you want to drink black coffee in the first place
Alright, you probably know you can't talk to some people about milk coffee without offending them. The point is that black coffee is the way coffee was meant to be taken, all those hundreds of years ago when coffee was first brewed.
However, we're all free to enjoy our coffee however we see fit. But there are moments when you might need to cut out the sugar and cream.
It could be a health problem, it could be they're making you drink more coffee. Or maybe you just want to see what black coffee is like.
Whatever your reason is, you'll need to remember it along the way. The thing is that black coffee is pretty damn harsh if you're not mentally prepared. I know, it all sounds so dramatic, but really it's not the same drink with milk and sugar.
Milk and sugar can help you not notice flaws in the coffee, or even how many cups you've had since it can be so delicious. Black coffee keeps you there.
There's also the added benefit of black coffee simply being better for your health, than milk coffee.
This has to do with the caffeine, and the taste. The caffeine content is a bit affected by the cream or sugar. It will do its job much slower and the sugar really isn't helping anyone's health.
The taste though, there's something in black coffee that just makes you feel good. After you get over the taste difference and get to about half of your cup.
That's when you'll feel your eyes are a bit sharper, you're focused, and you just feel good, like you could do anything and some of them at the same time.
You lose that with milk coffee. The body processing milk and sugar slows you down, so you don't get that extra boost you'd normally feel with black coffee.
So, back to your reasons for drinking black coffee, here's a few examples:
- Do you want to lose weight ? Black coffee will help you there, by the absence of milk and sugar which would add unnecessary calories.
- Are you curious about the taste of black coffee ? Keep and open mind, and you'll learn to notice the slight notes of berries of chocolate or vanilla in your morning cup.
- Do you have a health problem preventing you from drinking several cups of coffee a day ? Once you switch to black, you won't be feeling the need for coffee that much. The sweet and savory are gone. You caffeine intake will be lower.
Of course, you might have other reasons. That's up to you, but it's also up to you to remember those reasons. This drink will be different from what you're used to, and you might relapse at some point. Hold onto your reasons.
A few quick tips before you switch to black coffee
There are a few things you can do to make sure your transition to black coffee goes well. Or that the black coffee you'll be drinking will be good enough for you.
Switch to pure Arabica, if you're not there already
There is a difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, and you'll notice with black coffee. Robusta is the more robust, rough sister of Arabica.
It's got twice the caffeine, and half the sugar and fats of the Arabica bean. So that makes it not the best candidate for black coffee. Unless you're a die-hard Robusta fan, in which case go ahead and try it out.
I've had both and I think Robusta is too strong for me in black coffee.
Arabica will also let you play around a bit with the taste and notes of your coffee. If you like you coffee a bit fruity, look for African Arabica beans. If you like it a bit more chocolate-like, try South American Arabicas.
Where you coffee comes from tells you what flavor profile to expect.
I recommend you do a bit of experimenting, and sample a few coffee types. You might find a new favorite, or that your current favorite isn't great as a black coffee.
Make peace with the difference in taste
The taste will not be the same. It simply can't be the same. Your current coffee blend, whichever it is, will taste very different as a black coffee, than it does now with milk and sugar.
You're going to need to make peace with this difference, and not compare the two coffees.
You might be pleased to find that your coffee actually has some very beautiful chocolate notes, which were previously hidden under creamer. Or that it has a slight sweetness, and resembles cherries in some notes.
My favorite was a Costa Rica Arabica, which was a reddish, slightly salty coffee. It was beautiful, and it went great with just the smallest amount of milk. Still I drink half that coffee black.
You might need to adjust your brewing method
Another thing that will possibly change is your brewing method. Different brewing methods bring out different flavors in the same coffee bean.
So for example something like a Turkish coffee or a French press will give you a stronger, full bodies cup of coffee. The same coffee in a drip filter will taste a bit more watery, and night contain more high notes since it didn't have as much time to develop.
So play around a little with the brewing methods, or at least the water to coffee ratio you use.
Back when I took my coffee black I was Turkish style coffee. It was a heavy punch to the face whenever I made a pot of that, but it was great on its own.
But after a while I needed to be able to make coffee without having to actively watch it. That's how I ended up with a filter, and I'm a fan of filter black coffee.
A black espresso will also give you a great experience though, especially a very short cup (ristretto).
You might have to find a different brewing method, so I recommend you go around town and sample a few black coffees. One in a French press, on Turkish, one filter, one espresso, and so on.
This way you'll be able to pin point your favorite before you go out and buy the supplies you need. If you have to.
So let's see exactly how you're going to go through with this. Here's how to switch to black coffee in 6 days.
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Day 1: Reduce your usual sugar by half
Start out by making coffee the usual way. The same measures you use for coffee and water, and stop before you add any sugar or cream.
If normally you'd add 2 lumps of sugar and half a cup of milk, then now you will add only half the sugar.
The milk or cream will remain the same, but the sugar will have to be halved. We're starting with the sugar because this is what's the hardest to let go of.
But it's also easier to let go of sugar if you still have milk or cream to go with it.
It might taste odd at first, but you'll get used to it. What's important to remember in this first day is that the amount of sugar we usually add to our food and drink is way too much anyway.
Our bodies get used to whatever we feed them. Your body will get used to less sugar too, just give it a while.
Day 2: Reduce your sugar by another half
Alright, you made it through the first day. I know the first day is harsh, since it takes away half the sugar and that can be hard for many people.
But, give yourself another change and today brew you coffee like you did yesterday. Only now, you'll add half of the sugar you added yesterday. So that's 25% of the sugar you usually add to your coffee.
The milk and cream are still there, they'll make things tolerable.
You'll notice today your coffee is almost like yesterday, since 25% less sugar isn't as bad a 50% less. But, it's an important stepping stone.
You can't progress to no sugar at all if you won't pass through here first.
Pat yourself on the back, you've made it this far and you're alright. Tomorrow will be a bit harder.
Day 3: Start reducing your milk/cream by half
If you've survived yesterday and the day before that, then today might be a little harder. You're left with only 25% of the sugar you're used to. But now we're taking away half the milk/cream, because that will need to go too.
So, your coffee will be noticeably more bitter or stronger tasting than yesterday. Milk and cream really do a whole lot of work in masking bitterness.
Day 4: Reduce your milk/cream by half again
Today we're going to reduce your cream or milk by another half. So now you're adding only 25% of the milk/cream, and 25% of the sugar you'd normally add.
By now I think the sugar level is becoming tolerable for you. It's been 4 days with less sugar already, and your body's gotten used to it already.
Also remember that the fats in the milk or cream act as a sort of sugar as well, masking the coffee's bitterness.
Tomorrow though, tomorrow will be another big test.
Day 5: Skip the sugar, only add milk/cream
Today we're skipping sugar altogether. No sugar whatsoever today, and we're going to see if you can withstand it. This means that you've gone in 5 days from sugar to no sugar.
Depending on the amount of sugar you've been using until now, this can be a big achievement or just a small adjustment.
Whatever the case, your coffee is now unsweetened. You've probably begun to notice some slight notes in your coffee, now the the sugar is completely gone.
The milk/cream will still keep things tolerable, but there's just one step left.
By now you should already be used to the general aroma of a black coffee, with so little added to it. Tomorrow is the big day.
Day 6: Take your coffee black as night, no sugar or milk
Today we're not adding anything to the coffee. No sugar, no milk, no cream, nothing. There's nothing in your morning cup, other than pure caffeine and the faint notes of a fruity coffee (or whichever notes you like).
It might be hard at first, even with the baby steps we've taken before. But if you've come this far I'm sure you can handle black coffee on its own.
You've come a long way, from sugar and milk to none at all. You have your reasons for switching to black coffee, and you'll need to remember those reasons.
Every few sips you might be surprised at how... not sweet your coffee tastes. No worries, a sip of clean, fresh cold water will clear that right up.
You'll notice the water has a certain taste now. It's a bit sweet, and the most refreshing drink ever.
That's both the coffee's effect on your tongue, and also the lack of sugar.
Sugar in excess can really dampen the taste of the foods or drinks we have every day. So can salt, this is why we need to be careful how much we spice our food and drink. Aside from the health benefits, that is.
How to actually enjoy your brand new black coffee
Alright, now you've had black coffee ! You're officially okay with what many people actively dislike, and that's a big step. But what about actively enjoying your black coffee ?
Well, that's where the experimenting comes into play. Trying several types of coffee will help you find some brands or bean types that you might love.
Again, try and steer for Arabica beans, since those are the safest bet for most people.
Aside from changing the beans and the brewing method, you just have to give it time.
Give black coffee time to become your friend, and you'll notice the small details in every cup. After 5-6 cups of one brand, you'll notice maybe there's a very fruity hint if you brew the coffee as an espresso rather than a French press.
Remember that black coffee is kind of an acquired taste. It takes some getting used to, and those goose bumps are normal. They're not mandatory, but getting them isn't weird.
A good thing to remember about drinking black coffee, is that you might not need to brew it very strong. A very strong black coffee will seem much stronger than if you added milk to it.
So you're also cutting back on the caffeine as well.
Black coffee will change the way you see coffee
Here's a bit of an account from me. How I went from black coffee to milk and what I settled on.
I started drinking coffee in my late teens. It was a necessity, I had very early Driver's Ed classes and I was a mess. I started with espresso, since that was what we had at home.
I took it black, because I was very impressed with impressing everyone with how tough I was, drinking black coffee without flinching. Ah well, teenagers.
I kept drinking it black and got used to it, until my third year of college. Then, I don't remember how or why, a few little creamer boxes found their way into my fridge.
Those small shots of 10% fat, you know them. Well, I started using one, then two, then I ended up with 4 in one mug of coffee. And 2-3 lumps of sugar. This was over the course of almost two years.
After that, I was already rooming with a few friends and in charge of morning coffee. There was only so many creamer cups we could use until it became ridiculous. So we started buying milk.
So then we had pretty much half milk, half coffee, with lots of sugar. We were a mess.
Then my boyfriend and I got into fitness, and I started reducing the sugar and milk. Now it's just one lump of sugar with a bit of milk, the rest is coffee. No other cups of coffee in the day, and no other sugar either, except when we're making tea. Which is again with very little sugar.
But I digress. I learned, through this journey, that I should do things as I like. If I want milk and sugar in my coffee, I'll add them. But I can also drink black coffee in homes where that's the norm, like my boyfriend's parents.
I've had great black coffee, which made me very glad I didn't add anything to it. And I've had terrible black coffee, tasting like wet cardboard and way too bitter.
My perception of coffee changed, and I think yours will too after you switch to black coffee.
Switching to black coffee is a journey, and it might make you question your motives a few times. That's okay, you have your reasons and you can always quit if you're not comfortable.
Remember that you can drink your coffee however way you like it. But if you really want or need to switch to black, then I hope this article helped you out.
My own journey from black to nearly latte to just a bit of milk and sugar was eye opening, and I hope it showed you that nothing is set in stone. My family is still randomly surprised by me not drinking black coffee anymore, though I've stopped a few years ago.
When you do switch to black coffee, make sure you keep an open mind. It will be a different flavor, but it's going to be great in its own way.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?