I’m about to attempt a difficult feat…
Yes, I’m going to try to convince you to begin drinking black coffee.
Hear me out.
My black coffee story
I’ll preface this by saying I did not always drink black coffee. When I was first asked “which coffee would you like?” as a teenager, I chose the safe Cappuccino option because I’d seen it before and it had chocolate powder on the top. “Ah, this must be what coffee tastes like!” I thought.
Could I have been more mistaken?
I then continued to happily drink a Cappuccino for the next two years and thought absolutely nothing of it.
During my first year of university, many things began to change in my life. One of those changes involved my caffeine consumption and the type of coffee I chose to drink.
One morning, after a strenuous set of lectures I decided that I required something stronger than what I’d been consuming up until this point. I decided to live dangerously.
“You know what… I’m going to try black coffee” I thought to myself.
After all, by this point, I’d had enough of drinking milkshakes masquerading as caffeinated drinks. I was also positive that I was beginning a slight upward trend on the body weight curve. Granted, it would be silly to attribute my weight gain purely to coffee choice, however it most certainly played a part, albeit a minor one.
My first experience was one to remember. The first sip of black coffee I had seared off my eyebrows and launched my adrenaline into a lunar orbit. I recall neither liking nor disliking it, however I experienced a level of productivity over the next few hours that I had never felt before. Like with most serotonin raising substances, I eventually grew to enjoy it in moderation.
Before I begin, I’m going to say with certainty that your experience will undoubtedly be different. Like with most habits, it will depend on how open you are to change and whether you embrace or avoid new challenges.
Four reasons to get started
OK, now that I’ve warmed you up let’s get serious.
If you fall into of the following categories, I would urge you to consider black coffee:
You want to lose weight.
You want to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
You want to know what coffee actually tastes like.
You want to save money on your coffee choice.
Crossing over to black coffee is synonymous with losing weight. Why? It’s an easy entry into making small dietary adaptations. No preparation, no work, just a simple choice you make upon ordering. And calories, yes the calories – especially if you’re a fan of a daily White Chocolate Mocha with 2% milk from Starbucks which has 512 calories and 150mg of caffeine at a Vendi size.
Putting it in perspective, this is slightly less (calorically) than a Big Mac or five bananas which is alarming.
Noted, it’s an extreme example but it illustrates what’s possible if you decide to go all in with your morning coffee. Cutting out the extra sweetness in something as small as a morning coffee is also an excellent starting point, as this will help you build momentum with sugar reduction in other parts of your diet if this is a change you decide to experiment with.
If you’re drinking coffee purely as a synthetic means of waking up and offsetting poor sleep, I guarantee there’s another one lining up for you hours later.
While a standard white coffee may have the same amount of caffeine as it’s darker counterpart (one or two shots of espresso), the coffee itself is diluted to the point of being a novelty, especially after milk and sugar are added. This in turn raises appeal and increases the likelihood of ordering or preparing another one later on.
Caffeine dependence is a real thing, so ideally consumption should be minimized where possible. An added benefit of minimizing caffeine consumption includes spending less on recurring daily trips to your favorite café and increased time between purchases of new bags of ground coffee beans if you prepare everything at home.
The steps you will take
You may be thinking “well… I don’t want to jump straight into black coffee but perhaps I might try changing things up.” This is absolutely fine. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be an either/or situation when experimenting with small habitual alterations.
The plan is that, ideally, you want to build up a tolerance to the bitter taste of black coffee so you can drink it with minimum fuss and eventually enjoy doing so.
I will now break this venture up into three separate parts: Easy, Intermediate or Hard Mode. The decision is yours.
For this example, I’ll make an assumption that your coffee of choice is a Caffé Latte with one sugar and that you drink one coffee daily.
If you like to drink more than one coffee a day and/or drink something that isn’t a Caffé Latte, rest assured that this same process can be applied to any type of coffee used as a starting point.
Easy Mode (Recommended)
Here’s a basic framework to use when starting:
Step 1 (7 days) – Keep doing exactly what you’re doing – except request half a teaspoon of sugar. You’ll barely notice the difference, don’t even think about it.
Step 2 (7 days) – A week has passed. The barista continues to glance at you oddly for requesting half a sugar each morning. You feel awkward being so pedantic. Now, lose that negligible amount of sugar.
Step 3 (7 days, +2 days optional half sugar) – Two weeks have passed and you’ve eliminated sugar from your Caffé Latte.
You’re now going to bid adieu to the Caffé Latte because you’re now on an espresso-stained path to the dark side. Next step: A Short Macchiato. Italian for “marked” or “stained”, the Macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dash of steamed milk added on top.
To compensate for the loss of milk, I’ll allow a couple of days with a half sugar while you become acquainted with this new style.
You’ll request that only one shot of espresso is added.
Step 4 (7 days) – You’ve reached a point now where a short Macchiato is tolerable and you drink it without too many issues.
A Macchiato with a double shot of espresso. The choice is up to you whether you choose a Short (less liquid) or Long (more liquid) Macchiato.
Step 5 – You should be roughly 28-30 days in by now. If you’ve stuck with it for this long, I applaud you.
We’re now going to move onto the last step which involves one of two choices: a Short Black (also known as an espresso shot) or a Long Black.
The only difference between these two is the latter typically involves 120-180ml of water added prior to the espresso shot(s). I prefer a Long Black as this allows me to drink it slowly over time which I find to be relaxing and therapeutic. The former works well if you’re in a rush and/or feel like getting a caffeine ass kicking before beginning your day.
The addition of sugar at this point is optional and up to you, however I choose not to add it.
Total time: 28-30 days.
Similar to easy mode, except in half the time and without any sugar nor encouragement. Here’s how you’ll do it:
Step 1 (7 days) – You’re going to bypass the half sugar option presented in easy mode because you don’t do things in halves. Lose the sugar and have your regular Caffé Latte
Step 2 (7 days) – Macchiato with a double shot of espresso, no sugar. Again, it’s up to you to choose if you would prefer it in the Short or Long variety.
Step 3 – I’m not going to applaud you this time, as you’ve chosen to take the intermediate route. I assume you’re an experienced operator who doesn’t need to be motivated to reach whatever you’ve set your mind to.
The decision I’m presenting to you now is either a Long or Short Black (with no sugar) depending on how strong you would like it. If you begin to crave sugar, perhaps you should have taken the easy option above.
Total time: 14 days.
Dedication level: masochist. You’re the real deal, a person of extremes. I like your style. Here’s how it’s going to go down:
You stroll into your favorite café and give the barista a sly grin. He gives you a nod and immediately starts preparing your Caffé Latte with one sugar. You march to the counter, knocking aside the eight other people in line without a second thought.
You grab the barista by the arm, stare deep into his eyes and state the following: “Double Espresso. No sugar.”
The café goes silent, an elderly woman behind you lets out a faint gasp and the barista begins to tremble.
“Ar…are you sure?” he asks.
“Do i look sure?” you will reply, tightening your grip and intensifying your gaze.
You let his arm go, slam $3.50 down on the counter, take two steps to the side and begin to wait.
He calls your name and hands you the Double Espresso, eagerly awaiting your next move. You will pick it up, briefly contemplate how different your life will be after this moment, then down it in one gulp.
You do it this way because quickly consuming liquid in excess of 90ºC/194ºF does not bother you in the slightest.
The intensity of the unfamiliar taste is almost overpowering, however you don’t make your discomfort known to those nearby. This is because you do not display weakness and have a penchant for the hard mode/no-frills approach to all areas of your life.
You smile at the barista and promptly exit the café, revitalized and ready to begin your working day.
Total time: 5-7 minutes
A new coffee journey ahead
Being able to gradually introduce yourself to something foreign over time increases the probability of success, especially if it’s a habit you wish to actualize. In my opinion, I believe this is the safest option you can undertake. That being said, I’ve seen others jump head first into something new and pull it off with nothing more than an iron will and a rock solid discipline base.
Even if you don’t become a full-blown, die-hard black coffee drinker after trying any one of the above modes (if you attempt hard mode, I expect a detailed description of your experience in the comments) at least you have an appreciation for black coffee and the process of integrating something slightly different into your day.
Good luck. I look forward to seeing you on the dark side.
Readers, how do you take your coffee? Has your coffee choice changed at all over the years?