The Best Coffee to Drink Black – Our Top 8 Picks for 2021

Best coffee to drink black

You love a strong cup of black coffee in the morning to help you feel energized and ready for your day, or maybe you want to make the switch to black coffee to avoid added sugar and other chemicals...but where do you begin?  

Why is black coffee better for you? What is the best coffee to drink black? How do you brew it so it doesn’t taste bitter? What exactly is black coffee anyway?

Let's take a look!

What is “black coffee?”

Black coffee, simply put, is coffee that is normally brewed and enjoyed without the addition sugar, milk, cream or added flavors. While that may seem straightforward, there is some controversy as to what exactly constitutes “black coffee.” 

While most people would consider black coffee to be coffee or espresso served straight up with no additives, there is another school who believes it to be any coffee served without cream..  This camp feels that coffee can still be considered “black” with the addition of sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, etc.

Many people drink their coffee black to avoid all of the add-ins in the first place, while others want to make sure they get the maximum coffee flavor, which will not happen if you start mixing other stuff in. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at which coffees are best to be enjoyed straight up.

Best Overall 

Death Wish Coffee Company

This dark roast coffee is made with Arabica and Robusta beans to offer a rich, strong brew to start your day.  The addition of Robusta beans gives this coffee a caffeine boost while the slow roasting process produces a smooth, dark brew without the bitterness. Notes of cherry and chocolate finish off its delicate flavor.

Small batch roasting of no more than 65 pounds of beans per batch, ensures quality and consistency, ensuring each bag is shipped at the optimal freshness.   

As an added bonus, Death Wish Coffee is USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade making it an excellent choice for the eco-conscious. 

Best Light roast

Kicking Horse, Hola, LIght Roast

For those who prefer a lighter roast, this Canadian offering is right up your alley.  Hola features aromas of brown sugar, nougat, and cocoa powder along with a juicy acidity.  It has a creamy, honey body and being a light roast, offers a kick of caffeination to start your day.

Kicking Horse coffees are fair trade, organic, kosher, and the company gives back to the community by partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada so you can feel good about enjoying your morning cup.

Best Dark Roast

Koffee Kult Dark Roast

This dark roast is a blend of rich, smooth, and full-bodied coffees from Columbia, Guatemala, and Sumatra. The raw beans are precisely roasted and shipped within hours of the roasting process to ensure each cup is consistent and at its optimal freshness. This coffee has a strong, bold, smooth flavor with notes of cinnamon and a bright finish to round out the taste. 

Koffee Kult also supports women and has vowed to support coffee farms who practice wage equality regardless of gender. 

Best Decaf

Kicking Horse Decaf

This shade grown coffee is roasted in the Rocky Mountains, using a Swiss water process to decaffeinate the beans while maintaining the integrity of the flavor.  This deep, dark, and delicious arabica coffee has a mellow finish with notes of dark chocolate, cacao nibs, brown sugar, and roasted hazelnuts. 

The Central and South American coffee beans used in this brew are grown in a socially and environmentally responsible way, by farmers with sustainable business they can depend on.

Kicking Horse coffees are fair trade, organic, kosher, and the company gives back to the community by partnering with the Nature Conservancy of Canada so you can feel good about enjoying your morning cup.

Best for Cold Brew

Volcanica Tanzanian Peaberry

Tanzania is one of the most famous regions for single origin peaberries.  The Tanzanian mills have a long tradition of carefully sorting their peaberries, and the coffee never disappoints. This 100% pure Tanzanian Peaberry coffee comes from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and has a wonderfully acidic, rich body.  The medium roast level allows the intense flavor and fragrant aroma of the coffee to mingle with mellow winy overtones and makes it perfect for a batch of coldbrew.

Best pre-ground

Valhalla Java

For those who prefer their coffee to be pre-ground for ease and convenience, Valhalla Java offers maximum flavor and an incredible aroma.  This artisan roast was created by Death Wish Coffee for legendary guitar god Zakk Wylde. 

Its flavor is nuanced and sophisticated for the refined palate with notes that are both nutty and chocolatey.  This medium-dark roast is the perfect compliment to those long nights out.

Small batch roasting of no more than 65 pounds of beans per batch, ensures quality and consistency, ensuring each bag is shipped at the optimal freshness.   

As an added bonus, Death Wish Coffee is USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade making it an excellent choice for the eco-conscious. 

Best K-cup

Barista Prima House Blend

If popping a coffee pod in your keurig first thing in the morning is more your style, then we recommend this brew by Green Mountain Coffee.  This dark roast coffee is classically balanced with hints and citrus and chocolate, with a gently balanced acidity all packaged up in the convenience of a k-cup. 

Green Mountain Coffee is Orthodox Union Kosher and works with Blue Harvest to provide clean drinking water to many of the regions its coffee is grown.

Best instant coffee

Mount Hagen

Mount Hagen is hands down the best instant coffee we have tried.  This trailblazer of organic, Fair Trade coffee production was the first certified organic instant coffee in the world.  

This freeze-dried single-origin coffee is made from 100% arabica beans that are shade grown at high elevations to produce a naturally flavorful, yet mild taste.  Mount Hagen coffee boasts the velvety mildness and complex, sophisticated flavor unique to Papua New Guinea and is appealing to those interested in organic coffee, conveniently packaged in a single serve straw that can be tossed into your purse, briefcase, or backpack as you head out the door. 

Benefits of black coffee

Fewer calories

If you are looking for a drink that is low in calories, fats and carbohydrates, then black coffee is the perfect drink for you. Most coffee additions contain 10-60 calories per serving, and while some of us are relatively conservative with our additions, adding in cream and a flavored syrup can turn a zero calorie cup of coffee into a 100 calorie start to your morning.  Like to add a little whipped cream too?  Your coffee just took another 20-50 calories out of your budget.  A sugary coffee drink from your local coffee shop can even pack in as many calories as a slice of cake!

 An 8 ounce cup of black coffee is calorie free and contains no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, no carbohydrates, and no sugar. So, in simple terms, black coffee is an ideal drink for those who are looking for a regular low-calorie drink that won’t harm their health.

Rich in Antioxidants

Many of the health benefits of black coffee come from his rich antioxidant content.  Coffee is one of the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet.  It is rich in Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin B2, B3, B5 and Manganese. Its antioxidant levels can often surpass those of fruits and vegetables several times over.

Aids in weight loss

If you are thinking about switching to black coffee for weight loss, its not a bad idea. In addition to being a low calorie drink, black coffee has an element called chlorogenic acid, which is known to speed-up weight loss.  Consuming black coffee after meals can slow down the production of glucose in the body and decrease the production of new fat cells.  The caffeine in coffee can also increase metabolic activity and boost energy levels, leading to the suppression of hunger. Finally, black coffee is a known diuretic that can also aid in the shedding of excess water weight.  

Improves cardiovascular health 

Regularly drinking black coffee may lead to an increase in your blood pressure, but luckily this effect often diminishes over time.  Studies have shown that drinking one to two cups of black coffee can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke.  Over time, black coffee improves your heart strength and reduces inflammation in the body.

Improves memory

Black coffee is known to improve memory.  As we age, our cognitive skills begin to diminish and we are more likely to develop memory related diseases.  According to an article in the Journal of Neurological Research, drinking black coffee regularly can help combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s by keeping your nerves active and enhancing brain function.

Good for your liver

Your liver is a vital organ that carries out many functions.  Black coffee boosts liver health by lowering the level of harmful liver enzymes that are found in the blood.  Studies have shown that people who consume four cups of black coffee have much lower chances of developing liver diseases such as liver cancer, fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.  

How to brew black coffee

The method you use to brew any kind of coffee has a huge impact on its flavor, so if this is your first go at drinking black coffee we recommend you experiment with different brewing methods to decide which one is best for you.

Drip Coffee Maker

The majority of kitchens in America today have a drip coffee maker.  They are easy to use, consistently brew the same way, and programmable so you can prepare them the night before and wake up to a pot of coffee first thing in the morning.  Drip coffee makers work by allowing a steady stream of water to flow through the measured grinds, producing a consistent pot of coffee every time. You can control the strength of the coffee based on the amount of grinds you put in the brew basket (we recommend 1 tablespoon per 6 ounce cup of coffee.)

Keurig

The Keurig is quickly replacing the drip coffee maker in a number of homes and in offices.  It is fast, convenient, and clean up is a breeze.  You simply put a coffee pod in, press a button, and you have a cup of coffee in a matter of minutes. While this brewing method is quick and easy, you have less control over coffee strength than you do in a traditional drip coffee maker.  In a Keurig model, you can only control brew strength by selecting one of three preset brewing volumes. 

French Press

The french press is great for brewing black coffee. The french press uses coarsely  ground coffee and full immersion brewing. You simply put freshly ground beans into the carafe, pour hot water over them and allow them to steep.  Once brewed to your liking, use the plunger to press the grinds to the bottom and you are left with a rich coffee on top.   The full immersion brewing maintains the oils in the coffee keeping it from becoming bitter but can be a problem for those who have issues with acid.  If you are looking for a low acidity level in your coffee we recommend the cold brew method. 

Cold Brew

Don’t let the name fool you, cold brew coffee can be served icy cold or piping hot.  Another plus to cold brew is you don’t need any fancy equipment, just a large vessel to brew in and a strainer. 

Like french press coffee, cold brew uses immersion brewing which reduces bitterness, but since the water you are using is cold instead of hot, the acidity level in the coffee remains low. 

Pour over

Pour over brewing has been embraced by coffee connoisseurs in recent years and will help maintain the more delicate flavors of your coffee. The pour over technique has been commonly used in Europe since the early 1900s and involves hand pouring hot water over coffee.  Similar to coffee made in drip coffee makers, the coffee is placed into a filter, but the hand pouring gives you total control over the strength and flavor of the brew.

Percolator

Before the development of the drip coffee maker, percolators were the most common way to brew coffee and some people still swear by them.  Percolators work by drawing hot water up through coffee grounds.  The coffee then falls to the bottom and is re-brewed.  This double brewing system produces a very strong cup of coffee.  The downside to this method is that the coffee can become bitter and sometimes contain coffee grounds.  If you are new to drinking black coffee, you may want to stick to one of the previously mentioned brewing methods.  

Espresso machine

Espresso machines use pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee to produce a rich strong coffee with a thick crema (coffee foam) on top.  If you have been drinking black coffee for awhile and are looking for something stronger, espresso may be something you want to check out.  Espresso machines can be expensive and time consuming but Nespresso makes a machine that brews espresso with the same ease of a Keurig coffee maker. 

A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is finer grinds produce stronger coffee, so keep that in consideration when choosing a brew method.

Things to consider

Roast date

Depending on the coffee you select it may have a roast date or a best by date.  The roast date is the date the coffee was actually roasted and is usually found on coffee purchased from independent roasters and in specialty coffee shops.  Selecting coffee very close to its roast date will result in a fresh and tasty cup of joe.

The sell by date, which can be found on most grocery store coffee, is the date the coffee should be sold by, to maintain ideal freshness.  Coffee with a later sell by date will be fresher and therefore have a better flavor. 

 As coffee ages, it begins to lose essential oils that produce its distinct flavor so a general rule of thumb is the fresher the better.

Roast type

Coffee typically comes in light, medium, and dark roasts. The roast type refers to how long the beans were roasted.  Light coffee is roasted the least amount of time and dark coffee the longest.  

There is no single “best” coffee to drink black because roast type is largely up to personal preference. If you are just starting out with black coffee, try all three roast types to decide which one is best for your personal palate. 

Another thing to keep in mind: the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine level, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to start with a medium roast.  

Type of coffee

The two most commonly used types of coffee beans are arabica and robusta.  Arabica beans have a sweet, soft taste and are less bitter, making them best for those venturing out into the world of black coffee for the first time. Arabica beans are higher in acid so those who have trouble with acidic coffees should keep this in mind. 

Robusta beans contain more caffeine and have a stronger, harsher taste so are best suited for those who really appreciate the toasted grain overtone of a strong cup of coffee. 

Looking for something in between?  Try a coffee that contains a blend of the two bean types. 

Acidity

If you have stomach problems you may have shied away from black coffee because you want to keep your tummy happy. While a lot of the time acidity in a coffee refers to flavor and not actual acid that will cause reflux issues, some people are more sensitive to black coffee than others.  

If you tend toward the sensitive side, stick to sumatras or a medium to dark roast coffee and use cold brew as your method of choice.  The longer roast time and the cold brew method are both known to reduce the acid levels in coffee, allowing you to enjoy your coffee black without upsetting your stomach. 

Grind type

Most pre-ground coffee is intended for use in a drip coffee maker.  But what if you want a french press or cold brew?  Pre-ground coffee will have particles that pass right through the strainers leaving you with a thick muck on the bottom.  Not only is pre-ground coffee not great for some types of brewing, the moment you grind coffee, it begins to lose its freshness.

Grinding your coffee at home ensures you have the freshest coffee you can possibly have since you are only grinding the amount of beans you need for one day.  If you decided to grind your coffee at home (and we think you should) we suggest you use a burr grinder.  Blade grinders, usually intended for spices but often sold as coffee grinders, simply cut up your coffee beans while burr grinders slowly funnel the beans through ceramic or stainless steel burrs.  Burr grinders will grind your coffee beans to a uniform size, producing a consistently good cup of coffee regardless of your brewing method. 

Make sure your coffee maker is clean

When was the last time you cleaned your coffee maker?  If it was recently good for you! Unfortunately many a coffee maker sits on the counter for months or even years without being properly cleaned.  

Not cleaning your coffee pot often can result in a build-up of minerals or a leftover coffee taste that makes your morning cup of joe taste stale and less appealing. You need to clean not just the carafe, but every part of your coffee pot that water comes into contact with.  

Not sure how to get into all the nooks and crannies? The carafe itself can easily be washed with plain dish soap and hot water but we suggest you search for your specific coffee maker online to find cleaning instructions for the interior. 

Making the switch to Black coffee

Okay, you’re convinced to give black coffee a go but where do you start? Maybe you are asking “How do I drink black coffee without sugar?” If you have always enjoyed your coffee with cream and sugar, making an immediate switch to black coffee can be quite a stretch.  

It takes time to develop a taste for black coffee, so we suggest you take your time and slowly make the switch. Start by making sure you have a good quality coffee like one of the previously suggested varieties.  Then over time, slowly reduce the sugar and cream until you have made the swap.  

Some people find that adding cinnamon, vanilla, or cocoa helps them to drink their coffee without the addition of sugar and cream. While coffee with any of the additives technically isn’t “black,”  they could further help you make the transition to a healthier, low calorie start to your day.

Conclusion

Even with a list like this, deciding on your favorite coffee takes time. In the end, coffee roast type, brew type, and flavor is very much up to personal preference.  We suggest you ignore the trends, listen to your body, and pick a coffee that tastes good to you.  We have given you a list of several to try but in the end, go with the pick that you enjoy most!