This article describes the benefits of black coffee, how to make it, and its advantages and disadvantages.
What is Black Coffee?
Black coffee is the simplest and oldest coffee based drink. Black coffee is also known as cafe noir or drip coffee and it has an astonishingly wide variety of methods to brew it. It can be boiled, steeped or pressurized. Unsurprisingly, brewing coffee by boiling was the earliest method. Even today authentic Turkish coffee is made using this method.
So when exactly did humans start drinking coffee? Because drinking coffee goes centuries back it is not easy to pinpoint where, when and how it was first consumed. According to one legend it was discovered in the 9th century in the region of Kaffa in Ethiopia. Another legend from Yemen states that coffee was used by Sheikh Omar to survive when he was exiled.
However, the earliest credible evidence of drinking coffee similar to the way we do takes us to 15th century Yemen in southern Arabia. In sufi shrines coffee beans were first roasted and then brewed. The coffee allowed the sufis to concentrate and reach what we can see as a spiritual exaltation. As the sufi’s travelled they introduced coffee to the rest of the world. By the 16th century, the drink had reached the rest of the Middle East and North Africa, later spreading to Europe.
How to make Black Coffee
While black coffee may be the simplest of all coffees there is still a lot of difference in how it is made in different countries. Some European cafes may serve an extended espresso shot as black coffee whereas in the USA that would be referred to as an Americano while black coffee would only mean drip coffee.
Even within drip coffee there are many ways of preparation. Let’s cover the most common ways:
- Before you can make your drink you need to grind coffee beans. It is possible to buy already ground coffee but some people prefer the freshness that comes from making a cup with beans grinded right before.
- In case you want to grind coffee beans yourself there are three main methods and only one that is considered employing. You can grind beans the old fashioned way with a mortar and pestle but we wouldn’t recommend it. The second method is using rotary blades which can work if you are not very picky but the only way to get a uniform grind is to use ceramic burr grinder.
- Let’s get instant coffee out of the way first. Simplest way to make coffee if you are out camping or don’t have any coffee maker. Just mix the desired amount of coffee into hot water and you’re done.
- The other most common method of making black coffee is using a drip coffee maker. All you have to do with this is pour ground coffee into the filter, pour some water in and press start. It takes approximately 5 minutes for your cup to be ready. However, with this method (and with most others) it is important to use the correct proportions of coffee and water. The correct proportion for drip coffee is 1:17 i.e. 60 grams of coffee to one liter of water.
- Then come coffee percolators which push boiling hot water up into the coffee chamber to steep the coffee grains. This cycle repeats until you remove it from the heat or by an internal timer or thermostat that turns off the heater when the entire pot reaches a certain temperature.
- A pour-over coffee maker is pretty self explanatory. You manually pour hot water over the beans. For this you need a special kind of filter which though more expensive may be reusable.
- A french press is recommended by many for use at home. You use two tablespoons of coffee for one coffee cup of water. Boil the water to get it hot enough (ideally 195 F), then pour it over the coffee in the press. Stir the grounds into the water to saturate them thoroughly. Let it stand for 3 minutes. All the coffee oils remain in the liquid due to direct contact with water, making it a stronger beverage. Push the top down and serve. This method does leave more sediment than in coffee made by an automatic coffee machine but that can be reduced by using the right type of grinder that will give you uniform sized grinds.
Pros and Cons
- Black coffee is low cal meaning it pretty much has no calories on its own without milk or sugar.
- Black coffee regulates blood sugar levels and is good for weight loss
- It's a vegan beverage that is easily available.
- There is a wide variety of coffee beans with different roasts and flavor profiles available for you to pick from.
- Black coffee can be made using a number of different ways and it is not a complicated drink to master unlike a galao or a cappuccino.
- Black coffee has a moderate amount of stimulating effects.
- To make black coffee you don’t need a frother or espresso machine which can be expensive.
- Black coffee, depending on the beans used, can be acidic.
- The caffeine in black coffee may worsen acid reflux as it promotes the production of HCL in our stomachs. Drinking on an empty stomach especially can damage your stomach lining. It can also cause Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- Drinking a lot of black coffee can increase stress and anxiety and in people with bipolar disorder it can trigger mania.
- Black coffee has less nutritional benefits than espresso.
- It can lead to a disturbed sleeping routine.
- Coffee beans contain cafestol and kahweol that may raise LDL cholesterol levels.
- Bad quality coffee can be toxic due to the impurities in it and can cause sickness, headache or a general bad feeling. Only purchase high quality coffee.
Black Coffee vs Espresso
- The main difference between black coffee and espresso is the method of brewing. The ingredients, hot water and coffee grounds, are the same for both.
- Espresso is made using espresso machines that can pass a high pressurized jet of hot water through coffee grounds. The pressure ranges from 9 to 15 bars and leads to a more concentrated beverage. One shot of espresso is typically made with 8 grams of coffee and is 1 ounce in volume while one cup of drip coffee is made with approximately 10 grams for a cup that is 8 ounces. It has a higher amount of caffeine with 63 grams of caffeine while drip coffee only has 12 to 16mg of caffeine per ounce.
- Espresso has a layer of reddish brown foam on top called crema but black coffee does not.
- Espresso has a more complex constitution and fuller body as it retains essential oils from the coffee beans that are lost while making drip black coffee as the filter used absorbs them giving it a lighter body and less nutritional value.
- There’s more control in deciding on the strength and flavor in brewing black coffee due to the many methods available. When making an espresso the machine pretty much does the entire job.
Benefits of Having Black Coffee
- Some people who hit the gym often like to drink a cup of coffee an hour or less before and find that they have so much more energy which improves performance.
- Coffee can help lose weight by regulating blood sugar levels and help break down body fat. Plus, black coffee has barely any calories.
- Drinking black coffee regularly can prevent liver disease, lower risk of death by 25%, and reduce risks of cancers or strokes.
- Since coffee helps the body use insulin it also prevents or at least delays the development of type II diabetes.
- As anyone who works long hours can tell you, black coffee is a lifesaver. It can be made quickly, with just water and ground coffee, and keeps you alert and focused.
- Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants, that work as little warriors fighting and protecting against free radicals within your body.
- High caffeine levels in your blood reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease and also lowers the risk of dementia.
- Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which are necessary for good mood, sleep, energy and motivation among other things. Two cups of coffee a day prevents risk of suicide by an astonishing 50 %.
Recommended Coffee Machines
- AeroPress Coffee Maker- This coffee maker is great for people who are on a budget and need to be able to make coffee anywhere they are. All you need is hot water and a scoop of your favorite coffee. Once both are added in the tube, simply stir and press down with the plunger. In less than a minute you will have a deliciously smooth cup of coffee.
- Cuisinart 14-cup DC 3200- This machine is slightly more expensive but it is a programmable machine that has a permanent coffee filter and a water filter. You can stop the machine mid-brew if you ever need to. The programmability allows you to decide if you want a strong brew or a weaker one. It comes with a glass carafe that has double insulation so it will keep your coffee warm. And the entire case is BPA free.
- KONA French Press Coffee Maker- If you want to go the french press route then we recommend the KONA French Press Coffee Maker with reusable stainless steel filter, large comfortable handle and extra thick borosilicate glass. It is BPA free and has a capacity of 1 liters. This is one of the most durable french press coffee makers in the market. The insulated outer shell protects the extra thick 34 oz glass from chips and cracks. It's portable and eco friendly.
- Bonavita Connoisseur-Bonavita Connoisseur is the most expensive one on our list but it is worth it. It has a lovely compact design. The thing to note is that it uses pre-infusion. Basically, it soaks the coffee beans just a few minutes before the brewing process begins. This process allows the coffee to be extracted evenly. It comes with an insulated carafe that will keep your coffee piping hot for hours.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Kristin Gifford