Best Black Coffee – The Top Picks For Drinking Coffee Black In 2023

Best Black Coffee

This is our review of the best black coffee in 2023. If you are looking for the best coffee to drink black, you are in the right place.

Black coffee is both loved and shunned by many. If you want to get started with drinking black coffee, it is really important you choose the right coffee bean. It can make the difference between you loving black coffee and hating it.

I’ve researched the best black coffee to help you make the best decision, so that you can enter the dark world on the right note.

I found that the Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee is the best overall coffee to drink black.

Everyone has different taste preferences, so I’ve included coffee with a variety of different flavor profiles to help you find the best one.

Let’s get started!

Top 6 Coffee To Drink Black

Here is the glance of the 5 best coffee perfect to drink black.

  1. Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee (Best Overall Coffee To Drink Black)
  2. Lifeboost Medium Roast 
  3. Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
  4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain Blend
  5. Lifeboost Embolden Dark Roast (Black Dark Roast Coffee To Drink Black)
  6. illy Ethiopia Single Origin Coffee

Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee

Top Pick
Volcanica Kenya Coffee

At A Glance

  • Origin: Kenya
  • Flavor: Raspberry / Cranberry / Fresh-cut Redwood / Alyssum-like Flowers
  • Roast: Medium

Volcanica’s Kenya AA Coffee is the best black coffee in my opinion.

It has a rich body, bright acidity, fragrant aroma, and a hint of wine in its aftertaste, with flavors of berries and citrus

If you have been avoiding black coffee due to its bitter taste, you should try this coffee. Kenyan Coffee AA beans have little to no bitter flavors

Instead, they have a sweet taste.

In case you are wondering, “AA coffee beans” just means the beans are extra large.

The beans are also Shade Grown, meaning they are packed with nutrients.

Lifeboost Medium Roast

Lifeboost Medium Roast

At A Glance

  • Origin: Nicaragua (Single Origin)
  • Flavor: Fruity / Black Tea / Cane Sugar / Vanilla / Caramel
  • Roast: Medium

The Lifeboost Medium Roast is popular for being extremely low-acid. This coffee is great for those of you with sensitive stomachs as it is easy on the stomach.

Not only are these coffee beans grown organically, Lifeboost also uses a 3rd-party lab to test for mycotoxins (mold), heavy metals, pesticides and over 400 other toxins. This means that you are getting only the healthiest black coffee, checked to ensure there are 0 harmful chemicals.

What I love about Lifeboost is that each order is roasted on order. This means that you don’t have to worry about getting stale coffee which was roasted long ago. As I have explained later in this article, a fresh roast is essential to nailing the taste of black coffee. 

The coffee is extremely clean, with a complex and fruity flavor profile. Some users report the flavor to be hard to taste. But for drinking black coffee, this should

If you are a health conscious person, you would like to know that Lifeboost’s Medium Roast is Shade Grown. What this means is that the coffee beans mature slower, and become more nutrient rich.

A major put off though, is the price. Lifeboost’s Medium Roast is definitely on the pricier side and may not be right for those of you on a budget.

Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

Volcanica ethiopia coffee

At A Glance

  • Origin: Ethiopia (Single Origin)
  • Flavor: Fruity / Floral / Lemon / Blueberry / Blackberry
  • Roast: Light-Medium

This coffee bean from Ethiopia is what I started out with when I started drinking black coffee.

This coffee from Volcanica is USDA organic. What this means is that the coffee is grown without any chemical pesticides or fertilizers. The coffee is grown in an environmentally sustainable way, and so the final product is free of any potentially harmful chemicals.

Coffee grown organically also allows the natural flavors of the coffee to fully develop. This will lead to a superior flavor and aroma. This can be enjoyed fully when used to make black coffee.

Taste wise, the beans have floral and fruity tones. The specific flavor notes consist of lemon, blueberry, and blackberry

This added layer of complexity and depth to the taste is why I think this is a great coffee to drink black.

The roast is light-medium. For those beginning their black coffee journey, I recommend going for a roast on the lighter side. This to make sure you don’t get taken aback by the overpowering taste that may come with a darker roast.

Fun Fact: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia is popularly known as the birthplace of coffee

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain Blend

Stumptown Holler Mountain

At A Glance

  • Origin: Blend of Central and South America, East Africa
  • Flavor: Citrus / Caramel / Berry Jam / Caramel / Hazelnut
  • Roast: Medium

Stumptown’s signature Holler Mountain blend is a blend of coffee from different regions.

It combines the chocolatey flavors from Latin America and the bright notes from East Africa. The result is a full-bodied cup of coffee.

The blend boasts a smooth and creamy texture, and prominent flavors of citrus and sweet berries with subtle hints of chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel. This makes it a great choice to make black coffee to enjoy the texture and complex flavor profile.

Lifeboost Embolden Dark Roast

Best Dark Roast
Lifeboost Embolden Roast

At A Glance

  • Origin: Nicaragua (Single Origin)
  • Flavor: Fruity / Black Tea / Raw Sugar / Vanilla / Caramel
  • Roast: Dark

Lifeboost’s Embolden Dark Roast boasts many of the same flavors and qualities as its Medium Roast counterpart. It is low acid and very easy on the stomach and checked for harmful chemicals.

If you are looking for a strong and full-bodied coffee this coffee bean is a great option. 

Though I haven’t had an issue personally, some users find that the Embolden Dark Roast lacks in flavor and has some tangy and sour notes.

The beans are Shade Grown, and so they are packed with nutrients.

As with the other Lifeboost product in this review, the Embolden Dark Roast is definitely on the pricier side. But given the impressive health benefits it offers, some people may not find that a problem. It boils down to personal preference.

illy Ethiopia Single Origin Coffee

illy ethiopia single origin coffee

At A Glance

  • Origin: Ethiopia (Single Origin)
  • Flavor: Fruity / Floral / Jasmine
  • Roast: Medium 

Another excellent coffee to drink black is illy’s Ethiopia Single Origin coffee.

This coffee has a lighter taste, and is very smooth. This means that it is great for beginners drinking black coffee as the taste won’t be too overpowering. 

It has a fruity and floral flavor, with notes of jasmine and a chocolatey aroma.

What is unique about illy’s Ethiopia Single Origin coffee is that the roast is calibrated specially for Ethiopian beans. It means that the roast level is optimized to best bring out the natural flavors of the bean.

That being said, this coffee isn’t suited for everyone. If you are someone who generally prefers a richer and more bold coffee, you should probably choose one of the other options I’ve recommended. 

Buying Guide: How To Choose The Best Coffee To Drink Black

When choosing the best coffee to drink black, there are some key factors to consider.

Freshness Of Roast

coffee being roasted

Regardless of the brand of the coffee bean, make sure it is freshly roasted by looking at the roast date. Ideally, look for coffee that has been roasted in the past 1 to 3 weeks.

If you purchase coffee that has been roasted for longer than 3 weeks, the coffee would have started to lose its freshness and flavor.

The flavor of coffee is the purest and strongest in black coffee since we aren’t adding any additives. So, it is important to ensure the roast is fresh to enjoy the bold and complex flavor profile of the coffee.

Avoid mass-produced coffee from local supermarkets. Instead, purchase from a local roaster or specialty coffee shop to get a fresher roast. Plus, coffee from these places are also usually of higher quality!

If the roast date isn’t mentioned on the bag, ask the roaster or shop owner and they’ll often be happy to help!

Whole Beans Or Ground Coffee?

Always choose whole beans over ground coffee. Whole beans retain their flavor and aroma better than ground coffee.

Ground coffee tends to lose its flavor and freshness much faster because it has a larger surface area which is exposed to the air. By the time the coffee gets prepared and shipped to you, a considerable amount of time would have passed and the coffee would have lost a lot of its flavor.

As mentioned earlier, the freshness and flavor is extremely important when brewing black coffee.

Also, grinding your own coffee will allow you to customize the grind size according to the brewing method. 

For example, if you are using an espresso machine, a finer grind will be preferred. But if you want to use a French press, the grind will be much coarser.

Origin & Flavor

The origin of the beans is another important factor to consider when choosing the best coffee to drink black. 

Coffee comes in so many different flavor profiles. Different regions and countries produce beans with unique flavor profiles, and the specific growing conditions and processing methods used can all affect the final flavor of the coffee bean.

Since black coffee highlights the natural flavors of the beans, make sure you choose a coffee with a flavor profile you like.

For example, coffee from Colombia and Brazil usually tend to have a rich, sweet, and chocolatey flavor. Meanwhile Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee have a brighter, acidic, and fruity flavor.

Here is a handy table of flavors and the regions that produce coffee with those flavors. Coffee comes in so many different flavors that I can’t list all of them here. These are just some of the common ones you’ll find on coffee bag labels.

Balanced & SweetCentral & South America
Bright & AcidicAfrica and the Middle East
Chocolatey & NuttyBrazil, Colombia
Fruity & CitrusyEthiopia, Kenya
Spicy & EarthyIndia, Indonesia
Caramel & NuttyCentral and South America

Note that these are just generalizations. When choosing the perfect coffee to make black, simply check for the flavor profile on the coffee bag and choose one you like!

You can also get samples of a few different flavors and try to find something you like.

Roast Level

roast levels of coffee

The roast level is especially important when brewing black coffee. Especially for those new to the world of black coffee, coffee made with dark roasts can taste awful.

Using a light (or light-medium) roast to make black coffee will make it less bitter and more appetizing if you aren’t used to black coffee.

That doesn’t mean avoiding dark roasts at all costs; in fact one of my favorite coffee for black coffee is Lifeboost’s Embolden Dark Roast. Feel free to wander into the dark side once you can comfortable with black coffee.

As for the taste, lighter roasts tend to have a brighter and more acidic flavor and highlight the natural flavor of the coffee better. This is because the coffee’s natural flavors are preserved when it isn’t exposed to heat.

On the other hand, darker roasts have a deeper and more full-bodied flavor, with a lower level of acidity.

With no milk or creamer to mask the flavor of the coffee, the roast and the impact it has on the flavor is quite significant. Most people wouldn’t want to start drinking black coffee with a darker roast (unless you would like a bitter drink!).

At the risk of sounding repetitive, if you have no idea where to start, start light and slowly increase the roast level as you get used to black coffee.

How To Make Black Coffee Taste Better? 

If you’ve tried drinking black coffee before but didn’t like the taste, here are some tips to make it taste better.

Keep Experimenting

To get the perfect black coffee for you, you need to experiment. There are a few things you can experiment with.

Firstly, the ratio of coffee to water. This can significantly affect both the flavor and strength of your coffee, so be sure to experiment until you find the sweet spot for your taste buds.

A good starting point is to use 1-2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water (approximately 177 ml). Start here and adjust as needed.

Secondly, experiment with the coffee bean itself. There are literally 100s of beans out there, each with their own unique and complex flavor profiles. 

Black coffee allows you to enjoy the raw and natural taste of these beans, so keep trying different coffee beans till you find something you love. 

Thirdly, you can experiment with the roast level as well. Though I recommend you start light, dark roasts can be a great option as well once you are accustomed to black coffee.

As mentioned earlier, one of my most favorite coffee beans to enjoy black coffee is Lifeboost’s Embolden Dark Roast.

Lastly, experiment also with the brewing method. This deserves a section of its own, which I’ve included right after this.

Brewing Method (Which Is The Best Method For Black Coffee?)

Different brewing methods extract flavors differently. So what is the best brewing method for black coffee?

In the case of black coffee, the brewing is extra important because there is no milk or creamer to mask flavor issues caused by improper extraction during the brewing process. Any and all mistakes are clearly noticeable.

There are a few good brewing methods to try when you are just starting out with black coffee. 

If you value convenience and ease the most, use a drip machine. This option gives you lesser control, but is a great way to start drinking black coffee.

The pour-over method is another great way to make black coffee which gives you more control. You can easily adjust the brewing time and temperature to get a smooth, clean, and balanced cup of delicious black coffee. 

The French press is my personal favorite way to brew black coffee. Since there is no filtering involved, the coffee oils lead to a wonderful rich and full-bodied cup of black joe.

If you prefer a low acidity and smooth coffee with a milder flavor, the cold brew can be a great method. 

Many people feel that cold brew is the perfect method for beginners to make black coffee. It has a much less bold taste to start and can be a good introduction to the dark side. 

But a quick disclaimer, if you want a coffee that is bold and full-bodied you’ll do best using the pour-over method or French press.

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, the brewing method you choose boils down to personal preference.

But try to avoid more complex brewing methods like the AeroPress and espresso brewing machine. These are pressure-based brewing methods which are slightly more complex to master.

Also, these brewing methods require a finer grind coffee, which means there is a high chance you will over extract and end up with a bitter-tasting cup of black coffee. 

Again, the chance of messing up when brewing black coffee is much higher since there isn’t any milk to cover up over extraction.

A word of caution though, don’t get too obsessed with finding “the best” brewing method. Just choose one, it doesn’t really matter.

Instead, focus on the other factors I’ve mentioned in this section to get the perfect, delicious cup of java.

No Additives (Including Sugar!)

sugar added to coffee

While additives like sugar can help to mask the bitterness and acidity of coffee, they will also dilute much of the natural flavors and aromas of the beans. Additives simply ruin the beauty of black coffee!

If you want to enjoy the highest quality and purest taste of coffee (and not just sweet syrup), don’t add any additives at all. Besides, additives are an extra source of unhealthy calories which you probably want to minimize in your diet! 

Keep It Fresh

I mentioned earlier that you want to buy coffee beans that were roasted freshly. The same applies for grinding your coffee beans as well. 

Grinding the beans fresh helps to retain the flavor and aroma of the beans, so be sure to grind just before brewing. 

Quality Of Water

This is a simple but effective tip. Use filtered water when brewing black coffee.

Impurities found in tap water can sometimes affect the taste of the final cup of black coffee by masking or altering the natural flavor of the beans. So stick to filtered water for the best result.

How To Start Liking Black Coffee

black coffee

If you can’t seem to get accustomed to coffee without milk, don’t fret. Here are some tips to start enjoying black coffee.

Instead of ditching your usual cup and moving to black coffee straight away, do it gradually. Making the switch in one go may make you feel like the coffee is too bitter or too acidic.

Try to lower the amount of milk/sweetener added step-by-step. 

For example, you can half the amount of additives you use, wait till you are used to the taste, and repeat. Keep lowering the additives you use until you are left with nothing but pure black coffee!

Alternatively, if you just don’t seem to like black coffee, start experimenting (as I said above) with different beans and brewing methods!

What Exactly Is Considered Black Coffee?

Seemingly a simple question, there seems to be some confusion surrounding what exactly can be considered as black coffee.

In my opinion, black coffee is coffee which is made (using any brewing method) with only coffee beans and water with no additional ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, or syrup. 

Some people consider black coffee to be any coffee that is served without milk or cream. This means that additives like sugar, syrup, or other flavoring can be added to the coffee. 

I don’t agree with this definition as additives don’t allow you to enjoy the flavor profile of the coffee, defeating the purpose of black coffee.

Why Drink Black Coffee?

Why would anyone drink “plain” black coffee when there are several other coffee options out there like the latte or cappuccino? Turns out there are some great reasons!

Enjoy The Natural Flavors Of Coffee In Its Purest Form

The first, most obvious reason people drink black coffee is to enjoy and appreciate the natural flavors and aroma of coffee in its purest form. This is why it is important to use high quality beans, else you will end up drinking awful tasting coffee in its “purest” form!

No other coffee will allow the subtle flavors and notes of the beans to shine through without being diluted by additives like cream or sweeteners. 

The Health Benefits Of Black Coffee

There are numerous health benefits that come with drinking black coffee. 

Any time you come across a study that lavishes praise on coffee, it is likely that black coffee was used.

Firstly black coffee can help you lose weight. Without any additives, black coffee is an almost 0 calorie drink. The caffeine also boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day!

It’s almost as if you are drinking “negative calories”!

Black coffee is known as an antioxidant powerhouse, containing as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. 

This leads to a host of other benefits, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease prevention, reduced risk of cancer, and even helps manage diabetes!

Saving Money

Though it may not seem like much, the cost of the sugar and toppings you add into your coffee can really rack up. 

Black coffee is healthier, more flavorful, and yet still saves you money. Who would say no to that?

The Final Verdict

Deciding to drink black coffee is an excellent decision to make as it brings with it several health benefits. 

At the same time, you can fully enjoy the natural flavors of coffee in its purest form only with black coffee.

We recommend the Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee as the best coffee to drink black. It has a great flavor and a lighter roast which are all great to enjoy black coffee. 

Photo of author


Mellina is an avid coffee lover and is loves to brew the best possible coffee at home. She loves sharing anything which helps people perfect their next cup of coffee.

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