Introduction to “Best Tasting Black Coffee”
One of the most fun and interesting conversations one could have with fellow coffee enthusiasts. A question without a right or wrong answer – what is the best tasting black coffee?
For the sake of this article, black coffee will be defined as any coffee that has been brewed regularly, without the use of spices or condiments, and is not sweetened.
Cream or milk is also out of the question. Simply put: plain coffee.
We will include espresso in this article, but only the kind you can make at home with regular espresso machines. Commercial machines will obviously do a much better job at brewing, so it wouldn’t be fair to compete against commercial-quality espresso.
Each brewing method produces its own coffee, with its personalities and unique characteristics beyond just the coffee beans you’re using.
The same coffee you use to brew using a French press, for example, turns into something entirely different when you make cold brew with it, doesn’t it? That’s our point.
To try to come to a conclusion on which black coffee is the best, we’ll go over the characteristics of each type of black coffee depending on how it was brewed. We’ll start with the old but classic French press. But firstly, let’s get into the coffee part.
Although we mentioned that each brewing method has its personality, regardless of what type of coffee is brewed. It’s also true that different types of coffee (and different grind sizes) influence the coffee’s quality.
Some coffees can taste plain and only come alive when brewed with just one specific method. Alternatively, some coffees taste great with almost every brewing method, except for espresso.
So, at the end of each brewing method, we’ll give you a couple of recommendations for what we think is the best tasting black coffee for when you want to brew it.
One of the most low-tech ways of brewing coffee out there and universally loved. It is intuitive, easy to use, and very cheap. The French press uses a plunger with a filter attached to separate coffee grounds from water (brewed coffee, rather) before we pour ourselves a cup.
By letting the grounds float freely in water, we get a richer brew.
For a device so simple, you’d be surprised at how good the French press is at making coffee and how few disadvantages it has.
Advantages of using the French Press
- It doesn’t require paper nor cloth filters, therefore making a more flavorful coffee.
- Richer in coffee oils, which are responsible for a lot of the aroma and flavor, and some health benefits.
- Easy to use.
- Can make light or strong coffee.
- Multipurpose: Milk frother, tea brewer.
- Not suitable for those who like coffee with cream or milk since coffee feels watered down.
- It requires coarse grind coffee, which is usually not as readily available as a fine or medium grind.
- You can only brew so much at a time, which can be annoying since the French press takes a long time to brew.
- Hard to clean because of the metallic filter.
The V60 takes its name from its “V” shape and how perfect the 60° angle is for coffee brewing. This Japanese invention dates back to the 20th century, although it didn’t really become a household item until the 2000s.
The simplicity of the Hario makes it one of the most zen brewing methods. With just a paper filter, you’re ready to brew.
The Hario V60 is, all things considered, inexpensive, even though you need to have a constant supply of paper filters— and even then, they’re really cheap.
The Hario V60 takes about two minutes to brew a very clean, medium-strength cup of coffee that attenuates bitterness.
- Short brew time.
- Can brew a single cup as well as larger quantities (though not too large).
- Tones down bitterness in coffee.
- Great for making iced coffee with it.
- Effortlessly balances out acidity and bitterness.
Disadvantages of Hairo V60
- Ceramic ones break very easily.
- Takes some time to figure out how to brew properly with it.
- Brewing in a cup can be awkward, uncomfortable.
- Uses paper filters, which can make coffee taste papery and -depending on the quality of which filters you use- bland.
Right alongside the Hario V60, the Chemex ranks equally in terms of popularity. These two are the most well-known and popular pour-over brewing methods there are.
There are a few notable differences between these two: the Chemex is a full device, including the “dripper” and the body, which functions as a receptacle or carafe. It’s also made of a higher quality material, that being a very durable, resistant type of glass instead of plastic or ceramic (making it reasonably more expensive).
Chemex’s biggest thing is that Chemex-brand paper filters are thicker, which results in a different type of flavor and overall flavor profile.
- It’s a brewer as well as a carafe.
- Very durable, resistant.
- Makes a bright, well-balanced cup of coffee.
- Not easy to store or clean.
- Paper filters are more expensive, though you can always buy off-brand.
- Great for lovers of strong, bitter coffee.
This one’s kind of a funny story. The first recorded instance of someone making cold brew coffee was actually in the 17th century… In Japan, of all places. Turns out an Aristocrat had received a batch of roasted, African-grown coffee from a Chinese friend as a wedding gift.
Now, as much as Japan is quite a hub for coffee lovers nowadays, they didn’t really know what it was or what to do with it. So they stored the whole beans in ceramic jars and covered them with water (for some reason, that’s still a mystery to this day). A day later, when they went to check on them, they found delicious brewed coffee.
And that’s what cold brew actually is: coffee brewed without the use of heat. Which inevitably means longer brewing time. But the result is a unique type of coffee that isn’t nearly as acidic and much more naturally sweet than other coffees.
- Great for people who can’t stand sourness in coffee, or for those who can’t on account of a sensitive stomach, etc.
- It’s naturally sweeter, less bitter.
- Brewing without heat means that less of the original flavor is lost: cold brew is best at getting more flavor, as well as flavor notes you wouldn’t otherwise be able to taste.
- Relatively easy.
- Expensive, as it needs a higher coffee-to-water ratio.
- The longest brewing time of all brewing methods.
The Moka or stovetop espresso maker has been with us for almost a hundred years, being invented by an Italian inventor (and coffee lover!) Alfonso Bialetti.
Bialetti continues to be the favored brand of Moka pots in Western Europe and North America.
Designed to make only small quantities at a time, Moka coffee mimics espresso in many ways. It generates steam to create pressure, make a strong extraction, and creates a strong syrupy coffee almost as concentrated and aromatic as espresso.
The Moka pot is fairly straight-forward and is probably the most durable brewing method you can find: a Moka pot can easily last decades, only needing the rubber seal replaced every few years.
- Makes concentrated, espresso-like coffee.
- Strong flavor hints like chocolate, spice, and caramel.
- Most durable of all home brewing devices.
- Great for black coffee as well as other types.
- It can easily burn coffee because of its metallic material.
- Takes some time to get right.
- It burns your hands rather frequently.
The Aeropress is, unlike the others, a new invention. It combines elements from different brewing methods, like the French press’s plunger and the use of pressure in the espresso machine, to brew a unique, delicious coffee.
It’s made of highly resilient plastic, making it both durable and cheap. It comes with three parts (chamber, filter cap, plunger) that can be taken apart – something that’s great for when you have to clean it and dry it.
Coffee made with this brewing method is usually very rich, although it’s so versatile that you can make almost any type of coffee in it, using any grind size.
One thing is sure: Aeropress coffee is rich and bold thanks to the use of pressure for extraction.
- Versatile and can adjust to any type of coffee.
- Portable, light, durable.
- Better extraction because of the pressure.
- Rich, bold coffee.
- Only good for making up to two or three cups at a time.
Make your own choice
Although it’s impossible to tell you what kind of black coffee tastes best, at least having the pros and cons of each brewing method makes it easier for us to make an educated guess. Which is the best tasting black coffee for you, and why? Let us know in the comments!