How To Make The Best Black Coffee

I’m going to show you how to make black coffee that you’ll love so much, that you’ll want it every day. Making the best black coffee isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t take much time. And it takes no special skills. And here’s the part that’ll really surprise you. What I’m going to show you, you’re Great-Grandmother knew when she was just a girl.

How to make the best black coffee

What Is Black Coffee

But before we get into the details of how to make black coffee, let’s define “Black Coffee”.

For our purposes, let’s assume that “Black Coffee” is just plain old coffee grounds and water; nothing added; no sugar, no cream, no caramel, no chocolate, no whip cream, no sprinkles, etc., just plain ol’ coffee. Even if the coffee is a light, medium, or dark roasted coffee, I still call all of it “black coffee” as long as you’re drinking it straight.

Now here’s the kicker. If you don’t think you can enjoy Dark Roasted Coffee even black, without any cream or other foo-foo junk added, then you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. You see, I’ve always hated dark roasted coffee, yet just last week, I drank naked (the coffee dude, not me) straight-up, nothing added, dark roasted black coffee and LOVED it. Me! Loving dark roasted black coffee, who would have guessed?

Why Most People Don’t Drink Black Coffee

bitter and burnt

Most people don’t drink black coffee because a vast majority of coffee sold in America is bitter and burnt industrial coffee. Additionally, all coffee starts turning stale and thus bitter within a few short weeks of roasting. Yet, a vast majority of coffee sold in America has been sitting in warehouses or on store shelves for months if not years.

This; I hate to even call it coffee; is so nasty, that America is known world-wide as the worst coffee makers in history. How some people develop a liking to this nasty brew is beyond my imagination.

Grandma’s Coffee Was Awesome

how to make black coffee

In the old-days, prior to World War I, coffee was almost always purchased green. Since the American Revolution, nearly every cook in America roasted their own coffee every week. Why? Because by roasting their own coffee weekly, the dry green un-roasted beans stayed fresh for years.

Secondly, because roasting your own coffee was so darn easy. Lastly, because fresh roasted coffee was incredibly smooth; with no bitterness; just smooth as silk, with a taste that was to die for. Hell, we fought a war, in part, to switch from British tea to American coffee.

The Death of Great Coffee

making the best black coffee
WWI Doughboys

Great coffee in America died during World War I. Why? Because the US Army wanted to send its soldiers to Europe with coffee. So, they burnt the snot out of the beans, then vacuum sealed the burnt beans into tin cans.

Six months or years later the GI’s opened the tins and made the worst coffee in history. After years of getting used to this nasty brew, they came home wanting more burnt and bitter industrial coffee. Hence, the birth of Hills Brothers (Alisha’s Distant Relatives), Maxwell House, Yuban, etc.

Unfortunately, today both the large industrial coffee companies and the small Charbucks Wantabees are still on the same path of burnt and bitter industrial coffee. Fortunately, for you there is a solution.

Making The Best Black Coffee

smoothest coffee beans

Just to make things clear. I love smooth coffee. I hate bitter and burnt. So, that’s what I roast, drink, and sell. If you like super bold burnt and bitter coffee, you’re not going to find it here.

That being said, now I’m going to show you how I make super smooth, full bodied, coffee with zero bitterness and zero acid, which is what I call “smooth“.

To make great coffee only takes three things;

  • Smooth coffee beans
  • A smooth roast
  • A smooth brewing method

Smooth Beans

What does good coffee taste like

Not all coffee beans are created equal. Every growing region produces coffee beans with a taste that’s unique to that region. Each grower produces coffee beans with a taste that’s unique to his fields. And each coffee bush produces coffee beans with a unique taste that only God knows why it’s different from the bush next to it.

Alisha (my wife and business partner) and I, as I said, love smooth coffee, but we also love coffee with prominent tastes of chocolate and nut, which we call our Lake City Coffee taste profile. To that end, we taste test coffee beans from around the world, looking for that perfect bean which matches our taste profile.

Over the years, we’ve consistently chosen coffee from the same Tarrizu region of Costa Rica. Depending on that year’s weather, we pick beans either from the Don Roberto co-op of growers or the Amapola co-op of growers. These beans produce coffee that is smooth as silk with either a dark chocolate or milk chocolate flavor as well as a slight hint of nut.

Smooth Roast (Low-n-Slow)

Smoothest Coffee Roaster
Russell Roasting

OK, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet that 99% of the coffee roasters in America burn the snot out of their beans. To them, “Time is Money”. Which is STUPID! Time is not money. Time is time. Money is money. You don’t rush a grape to grow faster to make great wine and you don’t roast beans hot-n-fast to make great coffee.

how long do coffee beans last
Costa Rica Tarrazu Amapola

I roast my beans much like your Great-Grandmother did; low-n-slow over an open fire. Low-n-slow preserves the oils inside the bean. Hot -n-fast boils off those oils, leaving behind a husk of carbon (charcoal). I want to save every gram of oil that I can. It’s those oils that contain all the bioflavonoids, antioxidants, caffeine, and flavor.

Even my dark roast is roasted to perfection. By perfection, which is not just marketing BS to me, I mean a dark brown, never black. You crush one of my dark roast beans in your hand and you’ll still see and feel the oil. Seeing that oil in a dark roast is enough to make a master coffee roaster cry. It’s a bite to do right, and when it’s wrong, i.e., over roasted, it goes into the compost pile, which is also enough to make a master coffee roaster cry.

how to grind coffee without a grinder

Smooth Brewing

Ahhh… now let’s talk about you. So far, we’ve been talking about what I do, now let’s talk about what you do in making the best black coffee.

Here’s a LINK to another article that I wrote on this very same subject, but in much more detail than here. Below, we’ll just hit the highlights.

There are more different ways to brew coffee than Carter has Liver Pills (Old-man talk for “a lot”). Let’s cover some general categories of brewing methods.

Fresh Roasted Coffee
  • Steeping or immersion – This is by far my favorite category of brewing, because it produces the smoothest coffee, yet brings out all the subtle flavors. Perhaps the most popular of this method is the French Press, Cold Brew, and AeroPress.
  • Pressure – This is my personal least favorite brewing method, BUT remember, this my preference. If you love these pressure methods, then God bless you. Just keep drinking my coffee. This method of course includes the espresso machines and the Moka Pot.
  • Pass through – Again, I’m not too nuts about this method. I just think it leave a lot of the flavor behind. BUT if you like it, by all means, who am I to judge. Go for it! This method would include any drip coffee machine, or even slow pour over (which is much superior to a machine, but still not my favorite).

Lake City Coffee

how to make black coffee
Alisha & Russell Volz

As you may know, Alisha and I started, own, and operate Lake City Coffee. It’s a true Mom-n-Pop operation. We roast and ship every Tuesday morning (So get your order in before Tuesday 7AM Pacific Time). Most folks receive their coffee in 2-3 days.

We started roasting professionally in 2015 and we’ve doubled our sales each year. 2020 was an exceptionally good year, where we tripled sales and it looks like we’re on track to do that again in 2021.

Now I have a confession to make. I buy beans and I roast what I like to drink. You guys are just getting the left overs. Granted a 1/4 ton a month is a lot of left overs, but I think you get the point. If your tastes and values line up with mine, then we’re going to get along famously and you’ll probably end up with the smoothest and best coffee that you’re likely to find anywhere.


Russell & Alisha

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how to make black coffee

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