What's A Great Coffee To Drink Black?

As I was aimlessly scrolling Facebook the other night (let's be honest, do any of us know why we end up on Facebook, or how we suddenly wake up an hour later having no-idea where we are) I saw a question posted by a friend. She asked her Facebook network, "What's a great coffee to drink black? 

This is probably a fairly common question around the first of every year, with New Years resolutions, commitments to ourselves to be our "best self" and eat healthier. These new year's goals usually require cutting back on things that we love like dairy, which happen to help make up those delicious lattes and cappuccinos that fuel our lives.

Some people even decide to try out cutting caffeine (GASP! ... Why.... why would you practice such self-abuse?  Kidding.... or am I?)


The Key To Drinking Black Coffee

If you want to be able to drink your coffee black and really enjoy it, you have to be willing to purchase a quality coffee, and not grab the least expensive thing on the grocery store shelf. Most of the coffees you'll find on the grocery store shelves are going to be commodity grade coffee (coffees scoring below 80 on the Q-grader coffee system). This means these are coffees that are grown in high volumes with more defects than what speciality coffees have (coffees grading above 80) . 

The higher scoring (specialty) coffee will have fewer blemishes and defects from the farm, and when it reaches the roaster will be ready to have it's natural flavors and aromas showcased through the roasting process.


I'm sure you've seen the flavor descriptors listed on bags of coffee. If this is a quality, specialty coffee, these are not flavors that have been added to the coffee through sprays or additives, these are the natural flavors that could be experienced after brewing. 

Likely, a Q-grader has cupped this coffee (cupping is a processing of tasting and grading the coffee for quality consistency, much like a wine sommelier would do) and these are the natural flavors that their well trained palate has picked up from the coffee. These are flavors that you may experience if the coffee is prepared well. 

If grown well and roasted properly, coffee can have some really great natural flavors. If your coffee requires creamers and other things to cover up the bitterness and "bite", so it can be palatable, then it’s likely the coffee is low quality or the roaster over-roasted/burned the coffee (see most of Starbucks coffees). 

Jordan Rosenacker, co-founder of the Atlas Coffee Club in Austin, TX stated in a Men's Fitness article, "Dark roast coffees are most commonly made up of inferior beans which are over-roasted to mask their imperfection". So that smoky mountain roast that you get at that drive-thru coffee chain..... is likely made up of inferior coffee. 

A good medium to light roast is the way to go to get a smoother and more flavorful coffee that you'll want to drink black. 

In our café we use Onyx Coffee Lab exclusively. They are a multi-award winning coffee company located in Northwest Arkansas. In 2017 their head roaster, Mark Michaelson won the US Roaster Championships and then went on to compete in the World Roasting Championship in China. 

They have multiple Q-graders on their team which makes us confident that we're serving the highest quality of coffee available in the United States, and it all tastes phenomenal black. 


What was your experience with progressing toward drinking your coffee black? We'd love to hear about your experience.  Also, do you have any questions about coffee or the coffee industry in general?

Leave us your questions in the comments and we'll do our best to fit it into a future post. 

Jon Mitchell

Founder & Owner - Zetêo Coffee