How To Like Black Coffee Without Cream And Sugar

how to like black coffee without cream and sugar
how to like black coffee without cream and sugar

How To Make Black Coffee Taste Good Without Creamer And Sugar

Before we start please do me one favor: whatever people, friends, expert will tell you: always listen to your own taste buds! You make the decision whether you will like black coffee or not!

It’s perfectly fine if Folgers Coffee from the grocery store is still your favorite. Don’t let anybody tell you that a specific coffee for $20 the pound is the only way to get a really good cup of coffee!

Coffee aficionados please don't turn your back on me! I’m not saying there’s no difference - no way! I personally can’t stand any kind of grocery coffee with a “best before” date anymore.

But I refuse to take coffee snobs seriously, when they want to force me into liking coffee the way they savor it. It’s up to me what I enjoy and not! And the same goes for you!

Do you like to add creamer? Go for it!

Sugar or sweetener, be my guest - I wont't stop you!

But...whenever I brew a first cup of coffee at home for visiting friends or family members I ask them to just try it black. Just one sip...or two!

And then they can decide, whether they want to add sweetener or creamer or not. In 8 of 10 cases they did NOT add anything!

How To Get Into Black Coffee?

Have you ever heard yourself saying: “I like coffee but only with cream and/or sugar! Without creamer or sweetener, black coffee is way too bitter”!

Or how about “I enjoy the smell of coffee, but not the taste!”

Welcome to the family. I did say that too. I thought, black coffee is automatically bitter and I’m just the type of person that needs creamer.

What do you think, when I say, coffee is not bitter because it’s black!?

You think I’m lying? Well, have a look at what scientists in Germany found out about bitterness in coffee!

It's the roast level and brew method that are key factors of bitterness in coffee. And a little bit the caffeine. But less than most people expected. Now that we know, that it's not because the coffee is black, let's move on.

What the study didn't say is how old the coffee is. Of course, if you drink freshly roasted coffee vs old, stale coffee you will for sure taste a huge difference! Old coffee is bitter, period!

In the following sections, you will learn how to brew black coffee! Coffee, not espresso! Black coffee so good that even your grandma who has been drinking Folgers for 80 years is going to make the switch!

I will also show you alternative ways to find out whether you like black coffee at all and that not all black coffee is the same!

Benefits Of Drinking Black Coffee

At first, just I want to try to motivate you!

I want you to understand and appreciate why it is good to drink coffee black and enjoy it!

Have a look at this:

A cup of black coffee has about 5 calories, when at all. No sugar, no fat, nothing. Coffee has a lot of health benefits, too!

Add a tablespoon of sugar (12 grams / 48 calories) and 2 tablespoons of half-and-half (37 calories) and you’re already at 85 calories.

A grande Flat White at Starbucks has already 220 calories and 17 grams of sugar.

Now let’s say you drink four coffees per day - one at Starbucks, and 3 with cream and sugar at work or at home. That’s almost 500 calories! And 53 grams of sugar!

In calories, that’s one full meal!

4 Coffees a day with cream and sugar have about the same amount of calories as a full meal!

Try A Cup Of Black Coffee From The Coffee House

starbucks frappuccino

And looking at the sugar: the daily recommendation for a 2000 calorie diet is 25 grams! Are you still asking yourself why you don’t lose any pounds when all you do is drink coffee?

I'm not even considering health issues with too much sugar and fat (aka double whipped cream topping).

Speaking of whipped cream: I picked a simple Starbucks drink - the Flat White - it’s just espresso and whole milk, no added sweetener.

Are you brave enough to do the same math with a White Chocolate Mocha or Double Whipped Cream Mocha Frappuccino?

Do you feel motivated enough to get into black coffee now? No matter if you have hated the taste of it or never tried it before?

Let’s do it!

Try A Cup Of Black Coffee From The Coffee House

specialty coffee shop with customers

The easiest and most convenient way to start liking black coffee is to go to a local coffee shop!

I want to emphasize "local"! Not Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.

Nothing against Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts! Their coffee is OK - but in my opinion, it’s not a good place to go to get into black coffee! This is not the coffee I want you to try!

Search for local coffee shops. Maybe even coffee shops with their own roastery. These places are awesome! And even better, if it’s not too busy, you can ask the barista where the coffee comes from. What country, region or even farm!

The barista can also tell you what flavor profile to expect. For example, he/she may say: this Colombian Coffee is a smooth coffee, with mellow acidity, with hints of red grape and nectarine.

Don’t expect you will taste exactly what the barista describes. At least I don’t! But who knows, maybe you’re not a hopeless case like me!

Ask for a light or medium roast coffee. Not dark! Not this time! Why? Because light to medium roasted coffee is less bitter. Dark roasts taste earthy, harsh, robust. Dark roast is better for espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes. A strong coffee that is still good with adding milk.

And at last, ask the barista to brew the coffee fresh.

Nothing against Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts! But in my opinion, their coffee is not a good place to get into black coffee! Go to a local coffee shop instead!

In the specialty coffee houses, you can often read on the menu something like “Hario” or “V60” which is pour-over coffee. French Press or Aeropress are also ways to get your coffee freshly brewed.

But expect to pay a little more. And to wait a few minutes. It’s not just pouring coffee from an urn. But I can promise you it’s worth waiting for!

When they finally serve you the coffee, don’t just drink it. Inhale the aroma! What can you smell? Any fruit? Something floral? These are good signs to have a delicious cup of coffee.

Don’t drink it too hot. Some people like it, when the coffee is very hot. Maybe you too. But just this one time, wait a little bit until you only lightly feel the burning feeling on your tongue anymore.

If you ordered a lighter roast coffee, you will notice some more acidity. And maybe some sweetness. There is always some bitterness in coffee, but it should be minimal. And if the coffee is brewed properly, you should not have the desire to add creamer or sugar.

Try it! And then please let me know in the comments below what you think of black coffee now.

Brewing Black Coffee At Home

black coffee in drip coffee carafe

Brewing coffee at home is nothing special! You go to the store, by a blue box of Maxwell Coffee and start brewing. And maybe you’re even one of them that likes grocery store coffee black.

Well, it’s cheap, right? And we all have to save money somehow.

And I am not here to tell you, that you need to change! No way! Who am I to tell you what you enjoy or not?

But you obviously searched for something like how to like black coffee. So I’m assuming you do not like the black coffee you have been drinking so far.

So what can you do at home to change it?

The one thing we don’t do is to change your coffee maker! Not at first! It’s the last thing we consider!

Of course, we look at the beans first!

Whole Beans Or Pre-Ground Coffee - What Should You Buy?

ground coffee, beans and grinder

If you can, buy whole beans, not pre-ground coffee. With "if you can" I mean, if you have the possibility to grind the beans at home. But more in a little bit!

The reason to buy whole beans is, that pre-ground coffee is very delicate and goes stale quickly. By quickly I mean days!

Coffee snobs will probably tell you, within hours or even minutes but I’ll see it more relaxed. Until an average coffee drinker like you and me really taste a difference, a few days will pass - at least!

Buy whole bean coffee, not pre-ground. The reason is, that pre-ground coffee goes stale within days.

But here’s the problem!

If the coffee in the store was freshly ground - it would be totally fine to buy. But it’s NOT!

Even the better ground coffee like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts is pre-ground weeks ago. When not months.

So if you don’t have a coffee grinder buy whole beans and grind them in the store.

As a side note: a blade grinder would be enough for now. You know, the small ones you grind spices with.

But don’t make the mistake and keep the ground coffee in the bag you bought it. Refill it in an airtight container. Best if it’s opaque. Because coffee does not like light and air. It will become stale faster.

So let’s move on!

Now that you know to buy whole beans you need to know what roast level is best for the first cup of black coffee!

Best Coffee Roast Level For Black Coffee - Light, Medium Or Dark?

light, medium, dark roast coffee

In case you don’t know how coffee gets its brown color.

Raw coffee is green. You need to roast it before it looks like the dark brown bean that you are familiar with.

But there are different roast levels. Think of a steak, there’s rare, medium and well-done. And a few stages between.

For your first cup of black coffee I want you to try light or medium roast coffee. I want you to taste fruity flavors, citrus, some acidity and just a bit of bitterness for the balance!

Same with coffee beans. There is light roast, medium roast, and dark roast. The longer you roast, the darker the bean gets, but also the stronger, harsher, it tastes. Light and medium roasts are more citrusy or fruity, sometimes floral in aromas and flavors.

This is the roast level we need for black coffee. Light to medium! We need fruity flavors, citrus acidity and just a tiny bit of bitterness for the balance.

The problem is, though, you will have a hard time to find light roast coffees in grocery stores. Rather medium, which is fine. But in the next chapter, I’ll explain to you why we do not want to buy our coffee in grocery stores.

Where Should You Buy Your Coffee Beans To Make Coffee Taste Better?

You have four options to buy whole beans:

In the grocery store, in a coffee house, at a coffee roastery, or online.

Grocery Store Coffee - Budget-Friendly But Likely Not Fresh

grocery store coffee

Whole beans from the shelf are good, but usually not fresh. To be more specific, whole beans stay fresh a few weeks but until a bag of roasted coffee hits the shelf of a regular grocery store, several weeks will pass.

So I doubt that we will achieve your goal of enjoying black coffee without creamer or sugar with coffee from the grocery store at all.

Except - the grocery store offers fresh coffee beans from local roasters. Whole Foods, for example, has a section with specialty coffee.

​​​​Fresh coffee beans have a "roasted at" label, not a "best before" date!

Do you know how to easily find whether coffee is freshly roasted or not?

Look for a “roasted at” label!

If you see a “best before” date, it’s likely already roasted weeks ago.

So for this purpose of getting you to like black coffee, get a bag of coffee with a “roasted at” label or look somewhere else.

Freshly Roasted Beans From The Coffee House

For example, at your local coffee house. These shops often sell coffee from local roasters. And this coffee is usually of high quality and also freshly roasted. You will highly likely not find any bag of coffee with a “best before” label.

On top, you can probably try the coffee before you buy it because the coffee shop likely uses the same coffee on their menu. Just ask them!

The other good thing about buying coffee in the coffee shop is, that those people know what they’re talking about - most of the times.

They can tell you what to expect, how to brew it, and how to make the coffee taste better at home.

Directly From Coffee Roaster

buy roasted coffee from roaster

Coffee roasters usually sell their coffee in their own coffee house or to other coffee shops.

Some of them also sell the freshly roasted coffee directly to you.

You can’t get coffee fresher than roasted and picked up from a local roaster.

The only disadvantage is, that you can only pick from a view different roasts and regions.

There's usually not a huge selection of different coffees. But the region or farm should not be your biggest concern yet.

We’re still in stage one of how to enjoy black coffee.

Online Coffee Subscription Services

Speaking of ‘huge selection’.

Between 2013 and 2016 there has been an online subscription model boom with an increase of over 3000%. Including coffee subscriptions.

There are some roasters that offer their own coffee subscriptions but you only get the coffee from one roaster. As mentioned before, it’s totally fine.

Believe me. as you get into black coffee, you will want to find out yourself where coffee comes from!

But if you want more options now, check out subscription services like bean box or Angels' Cup that offer coffee from different roasters.

Usually, you only answer a few questions. Something like your preferred roast type, how many bags and how often you want it shipped. That’s it. Super easy.

Alright, now you now to buy whole beans and the options you have to get them.

What’s next?

Best Way To Brew Coffee At Home - Drink It Black, And Enjoy It

Your halfway through, you got some good fresh coffee. Now we just have to make sure to not mess it up at home.

So if you haven’t pre-ground the coffee in the store you need to grind them at home. A coffee aficionado will tell you, you must have a conical burr grinder!

Why? Because it’s the only grinder that can grind your beans evenly.

Otherwise, your coffee tastes awful, underdeveloped or over-extracted, blah blah.

Do you have one of those friends too? Those black and white friends. The ones that only accept one way! No compromises allowed.

A conical burr grinder is of course better than a blade grinder. But at what cost? For drip coffee makers, you can use your blade grinder for now!

It’s not that they are wrong. Of course, a conical burr grinder would be best. Will you taste a difference? Maybe. But at what cost?

Are you willing to spend $100 - $200 for a coffee grinder while you just start trying to like coffee? If yes, go ahead and check my post about coffee grinders under $200. Don’t go crazy! If you become a coffee addict yourself, then you know exactly what you want and can still spend more money on coffee equipment.

Back to the grinders. If you do not want to spend so much money, maybe you have a spice grinder. You know those black or white ones with the blades.

They’re not perfect. But good enough for drip coffee makers or pour overs. Pour-over is the kind of drip coffee maker where you pour the water by hand.

How To Make Coffee Less Bitter

he does not like bitter coffee

Grind the coffee beans until they have reached a medium grind size - like table salt. If there are a few coarser junks in there it’s not a big deal. Just make sure to not grind too fine.

When you grind coffee too fine your brewed coffee can end up being over-extracted.

The result: bitter coffee. And we don’t want that!

I’m assuming you have a drip coffee maker and are now ready to brew your coffee.

The last question: How much water and how much coffee should you use?

Easy To Remember Coffee To Water Ratio

Often you read about coffee to water ratios like “for every 5 oz of water use 10 grams of coffee”. Honestly - I hate that! It frustrates me. I do not want to measure first water in ounces and then coffee in grams. I want to be quick.

Of course, if you always want to have the exact coffee to water ratio you need a scale. But for starters, let’s try this simple, easy to remember example, considering a full pot of coffee.

4 cup coffee maker -> 4 scoops

8 cup coffee maker -> 8 scoops

12 cup coffee maker -> 12 scoops

And if you want your coffee to be stronger, use half a scoop or a scoop more. But again, as long as the grind size is medium, your coffee won’t taste bitter, just stronger!

Bitterness in coffee is a sign of over-extraction. It means either the coffee is too long in contact with water or the grind size of your coffee is too fine for the brew duration of your drip coffee maker.

Bitterness in coffee is a sign of over-extraction.

Either the coffee is too long in contact with water or the grind size is too fine for the brew duration of your drip coffee maker.

Got it? Great. Then it’s time to confuse you if you want. I’ll add the calculation how I came up with the coffee to water ratio for your coffee maker. Just in case you’re curious:

But only read if you want to feel confused! Don’t say I haven’t warned you!

A typical coffee machine has 4, 8, or 12 cups. A cup is mostly considered 5 ounces. So depending on your coffee maker, you either have 20, 40 or 60 ounces of water for a full pot.

A coffee scoop is about 10 grams or 0.36 ounces of coffee.

A good coffee to water ratio to start with is 1:15 (1 part coffee:15 parts water). So for a 4 cup coffee maker, 20 ounces divided by 15 = 1.33 ounces of coffee!

To calculate the scoops we only have to divide 1.33 ounces by 0.36, which is 3.69, so almost 4 scoops.

Enough math!

Time For A New Coffee Maker?

Although the freshness of the beans is most important, your coffee maker also affects your level of black coffee enjoyment.

So if you think a new coffee maker is your next step I have a few posts you should check out before you make a buying decision:

Best Coffee Makers - This post is about types of coffee makers.

Drip Coffee Makers - As the name says, this post is 100% about drip coffee makers.

Coffee Makers With Grinder - In case you want to grind and brew in one step.

Thermal Carafe Coffee Makers - This post is about drip coffee makers with thermal carafe.

SCAA Approved Coffee Makers - All drip coffee makers, that the smart coffee guys officially certified.

Conclusion - Ready To Get Into Black Coffee?

By now you should have freshly brewed coffee in your mug. Please tell me you like. If it’s ok but not perfect, try different coffees from different countries, regions or farms. Stick with light to medium roasts for black coffee.

You might also want to consider brewing your coffee manually. For example with a Pour Over Dripper or a French Press.

But I must warn you:

If you start with manual coffee brewing, you will enter the crazy coffee addict territory!

Once started you can’t stop! Don’t come back and tell me, because of my post you are now hooked to black coffee and your kitchen is full of coffee makers, grinders, and beans.

Don't say I haven't warned you!

Tell me, how do you enjoy black coffee now? Is your coffee still bitter? What's your favorite roast?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Disclosure: I may get a commission for purchases made through eCommerce-links in my posts. More details here.

The History Of Coffee And How It Changed Our World

History of Coffee and how coffee changed the world
History of Coffee and how coffee changed the world

The History Of Coffee
And How It Changed Our World

Scientists tell us that there are an infinite number of alternate universes, all with their own unique realities and histories. Fortunately, the universe we live in is one in which the inhabitants of a small blue planet, circling an unremarkable sun, have access to the miracle that is coffee.

When you read the history of coffee and the series of accidental discoveries that led to your morning cup of sanity, you realize just how close we came to being one of those saps in the other universes. The ones where they have to endure caffeine free Mondays.

I’ll now take you back to the beginning and tell you the history and the legends behind the discovery of coffee. This will not be a history lesson like the ones old Miss Grundy gave in the 10th grade. I prefer a more fun, entertaining style.

Who Discovered Coffee?

There are two (out of many) legends that lay claim to the discovery of coffee.

Depending on who you ask we either have to thank a desperate Yemeni sheikh with a sense of culinary adventure or some goats who helped keep monks awake in church.

Legend #1: Sheikh Omar From Mocha, Yemen

City of Mocha

View of the City of Mocha; Jacob van Meurs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1258 AD Sheikh Omar, the founder of the city of Mocha, was driven by his enemies into the desert along with his supporters where they figured that they would starve to death.

Omar stumbled on a bush with some strange red berries and figured:

“I’m going to die anyway so I may as well take a chance and chew on these.”

They were extremely bitter and, seeing as they hadn’t poisoned him, he tried to make them palatable by roasting them. His men must have been distinctly unimpressed with his cooking skills because now the beans were less bitter but they were now too hard to be chewed.

“Let’s boil them and see what happens”, said one clever chap.

The beans remained inedible but in their desperation they drank the resultant brown water. As a result Omar and his not so merry men felt a lot more pepped up all of a sudden.

Still buzzing from their first cuppa they returned to Mocha, shared their discovery and Omar was apparently made a saint.

Deservedly so, right?

Legend #2: The Goat Herder From Abyssinia (now Ethiopia)

Kaldi the goatherder

Kaldi the goatherder; Title: All About Coffee; Author: William H. Ukers;

The older, and more popular, legend tells of an Arabian goat herder in Abyssinia called Kaldi whose career path back in the 9th century looked similar to yours but with less traffic in the morning.

Near one of the monasteries the goats would eat red berries from the bushes that grew there and start going into goat overdrive, bouncing all over the place.

Kaldi, annoyed that his staff were clearly feeling a lot more energetic than management were, complained about it to a local monk.

The monk, who had been falling asleep during their all night Ge'ez marathons, thought, “I’ve gotta get me some of that!”.

After boiling the beans up and drinking the liquid he felt bright eyed and bushy tailed throughout the next mass. After sharing his discovery with his fellow monks they all agreed that it was a close second to turning water into wine and there was much rejoicing. Amen.

I really like the one with the goats so it’s around about that time that we begin our coffee history timeline.

Coffee In The Middle Ages

900 - 1599

arabian doctor rhazes background

Portrait of Rhazes (al-Razi) (AD 865 - 925); See page for author [CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Rhazes Says It's Good For The Stomache

The genius Iranian doctor Rhazes while writing the precursor to the Dr Oz books writes about something he calls bunca or bunchum.

He describes it as “hot and dry and very good for the stomach”.bunca or bunchum.

Avicenna Bukhara

Avicenna Bukhara (980-1037)

Avicenna Bukhara Promises A Good Smell

Avicenna Bukhara was a Muslim doctor and philosopher from Uzbekistan, who wrote about the awesome things coffee does for you and, like Rhazes, called it “bunchum”.

He said it “fortifies the members….and gives an excellent smell to the body”.


Trust me guys. Drink this brown mystery water. It’ll probably be fine.

Sheikh Omar Believes In The Brown Water

Sheikh Omar tells his hungry band of soldiers, 

“ Trust me guys. Drink this brown mystery water. It’ll probably be fine”.

He saves the day and uses coffee to bring a nice caffeine buzz and peace to Mocha.

grand mosque in mecca

Grand Mosque in Mecca, vintage engraved illustration (1886 - 1891). — Vector by Morphart,

Coffee Not On "No-Go" List In Mecca

Coffee hits the streets of Mecca.

The Prophet Mohammed died in 632 AD, long before coffee was known, so it didn’t make the list of no-no’s like booze did.

Phew. A collective sigh of relief went up all through Mecca.

ottoman port turkish port istanbul constantinople

Drawing depicting an imaginary old ottoman trade. — Vector by erryan,

The Ottomans (Not The Chairs) 

The Ottomans (not the chairs, the people) introduce coffee to Constantinople (Istanbul).

The Turks eventually pass a law saying that a woman can divorce her husband if he doesn’t give it to her often enough. Coffee, that is.

No Wi-Fi In Istanbul's Coffee House

The first coffee house opens in Istanbul at a place called Kiva Han. Some Turks say coffee only got to them in 1517 so who knows.

The only thing we can say with certainty is that there was no free Wi-Fi.

port of mocha

Spread The Love For Coffee From Mocha

The port city of Mocha starts to spread the love.

People begin to realize the business opportunity coffee presents and ship coffee from this port in Yemen into Egypt and North Africa.

Sultan of Egypt Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri

Portrait of Sultan of Egypt
By Paolo Giovio (1483-1552) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Governor Of Mecca Executed For Not Liking Coffee

The governor of Mecca bans coffee because people keep talking politics while drinking it.

Coffee shops are shut down all over the place and naturally people riot.

Common sense prevails when the Sultan of Egypt says coffee is sacred, has the governor executed and it’s business as usual.

Turkish coffee house in seventeenth century

Turkish Coffee House of the Seventeenth Century
Title: All About Coffee; Author: William H. Ukers

More Coffee Shops In Middle East

Coffee shops start popping up throughout Egypt, Turkey and Syria with the cities of Cairo, Istanbul and Aleppo leading the pack.

vintage weed leaf

German Botanist Only Interested In Coffee, Not Weed

German botanist and physician Leonard Rauwolf returns from his travels to Aleppo in Syria after learning of coffee which he calls chaube.

There’s no evidence that he partook of any of the more “interesting” plants grown in the middle east for “research” but who knows.

Leonhard Rauwolf

By Leonhard Rauwolf (1535-1596) ("Rigentliche beschreibung...") [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rauwolf Wrote About Coffee

Rauwolf becomes the first European to make printed reference to coffee.

Prospero Alpini

attributed to Leandro Bassano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alpini Writes About Coffee In 'The Plants Of Egypt'

1592: Another botanist / doctor called Prospero Alpini brings coffee back to Italy after his trip to Egypt.

He becomes the first to print a description of the plant and the drink in his book called “The Plants of Egypt”.

It must have been a pretty short book if you’ve seen all the sand they have there.

But in Egypt's defense, it's not all sand, they have been a major food producer for Europe and Turkey, so they do actually have a lot of plants there!

Charles de l'Ecluse

By attributed to Jacob de Monte (Hoogleraren Universiteit Leiden) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Italians And French Talk About Seeds Used To Make Liquid

Italian botanist and author Onorio Belli makes the first reference to coffee in France when he writes to Charles de l’Ecluse, a French physician, botanist and traveler about “seeds used by the Egyptians to make liquid they call cave”.

Arguments between the French and Italians over how coffee should be made persist ever since.

Van Linschoten

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch And Coffee Shops

The Dutch, not content with their cheese, first begin to take an interest in coffee as it is mentioned by Dutch traveler Paludanus in a note in Linschoten's Travels.

If only he knew what would eventually be the real attraction to Dutch coffee shops.

Sir Anthony Sherley

By Dominicus Custos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"Those Damned Infidels And Their Coffe", The English Cursed

The English get in on the action with the first printed mention of a drink called “coffe”.

Recounting his travels in the middle East, Anthony Sherley writes of "damned infidels drinking a certaine liquor, which they do call Coffe".

Sherley was a kind of travel blogger / colonial enforcer. You can only imagine the selfies if they had Instagram back then.

Coffee In The Modern History

1600 - 1699

Baba Budan Route From Mecca To India

Border Control Needs Improvements

Baba Budan makes a pilgrimage to Mecca and enjoys spiritual enlightenment and his first caffeine high.

He smuggles seven coffee beans in his clothes on his trip back from Yemen to his home in India.

Customs and border agents were a lot less thorough back then.

Sir Anthony Sherley

By Dominicus Custos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Compared To Mustard Seede

First time the modern word for coffee Coffe was used in printed form in Sir Antonie Sherlies Travellers.

William Parry, one of the Sherley party wrote:
"...drinking a certaine liquor, which they do call Coffe, which is made of seede much like mustard seede, …"

Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ahoi Captain Smith! Coffa It Is!

Another Englishman, Captain John Smith, mentions “Coffa” in his book Travels and Adventure.

This is the same John Smith of Pocahontas fame who was the first to bring coffee knowledge to North America in 1607. 

trading routes venice

Venetian Trading Routes By User:Nikater [Public domain, Public domain, GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Italians Start Selling Coffee

Venetian Traders start selling coffee in Western Europe for the first time unaware of the thousands of marauding tourists that will eventually spill out of cruise liners to complain about the high prices of a single espresso.

John Evelyn1687

John Evelyn Portrait by Godfrey Kneller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First English Book About Coffee - So Tiring Coffee Is Needed

The Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn is an eye wateringly boring read but it has the honor of being the first reliable document mentioning coffee in England.

John tells of a Greek man who visited his college and drank coffee. He also mentions that the drink only caught on there 30 years later.

The English were always a little behind the curve when it came to culinary matters.

New Amsterdam 1664

View Of New Amsterdam 1664 by Johannes Vingboons [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Goes Mainstream In Amsterdam And N.Y.

The hipsters cringe as coffee begins to go mainstream. The first commercial quantity of coffee is sold in Amsterdam and is also sold in New Amsterdam, now called New York.

The coffee houses in Amsterdam will eventually sell more weed than coffee while New York insists medicinal use is all that is allowed.

In spite of their penchant for legislation New Yorkers can still order coffee without a prescription.

coffee house of the 17th century

17th century coffeehouse EnglandBy Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (Bodleian Library, University of Oxford) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First Coffeehouse In England

Finally England’s first coffeehouse is opened in Oxford by a Jewish man called Jacob. The coffeehouse was opened at the Angel in the Parish of St. Peter in the East church.

The potential faith based conflict of interest didn’t seem to dampen Jacob’s astute business acumen and no one else seemed to mind after the first cup.

There’s still a coffeehouse on the same site today called The Grand Cafe.

london coffee house of seventeenth century

A London Coffee House of the 17th CenturyTitle: All About Coffee; Author: William H.

First Coffeehouse In London

Two years later the first coffee house in London would welcome its first customers.

Pasqua Rosée, seeing how well his London venture was doing, then headed to Holland in 1654 to open the first Dutch coffee house and started getting the Hollanders hooked on caffeine.

Could coffee be a gateway drug?

scratched photo of eiffel tower on map with paris


The French Get Addicted To Coffee

Some French merchants from Marseille had set up base in the Levant for a few years and had cultivated a respectable coffee addiction.

They wanted to return to France but the absence of coffee there was a terrifying prospect so they brought some beans back with them.

Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France
Hyacinthe Rigaud [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Becomes Popular In France

Suleiman Aga, an Ottoman Empire ambassador, visits French King Louis XIV in Versaille but only wears a simple wool coat and refuses to bow down to him.

Louis throws a fit and banishes Suleiman to Paris. In an awesome game of oneupmanship Suleiman organizes elaborate coffee parties where he introduces high society Parisian women to coffee.

They adopt the Turkish fashions the waiters wear into their own designs and coffee becomes popular in France.

coffee house in germany middle of seventeenth century

Coffee House in Germany Middle of the 17th CenturyTitle: All About Coffee; Author: William H.

Coffee Finally Arrives In Germany

While the German Leonard Rauwolf may have been the first to make printed mention of the beverage, it took almost 100 years before the first coffee was actually drunk in Germany.

It quickly took off with coffee shops popping up all over Germany.
The very first coffee shop in Germany opend in 1673 in Bremen.

It’s also a little embarrassing that one of the first coffee shops in Hamburg was opened by an Englishmen in 1679.


Pascal Sells Coffee At St Germain Fair

Coffee Was First Sold and Served Publicly in the Fair of St.-GermainTitle: All About Coffee; Author: William H.

First French Coffee Tent

An Armenian man called Pascal opens a booth at the St. Germain Fair in France and soon every city in France has a coffeehouse.

It’s not documented but from recent experience in France we assume the prices were exorbitant and the service terrible.

Coffee In The Age Of Revolution

1700 - 1799

The First Coffee Magazine Of Germany

Germans were taking coffee seriously, as they should, and the first coffee magazine was published called The New and Curious Coffee House.

The full title of the periodical was

The New and Curious Coffee House, formerly in Italy but now opened in Germany. First water debauchery. "City of the Well." Brunnenstadt by Lorentz Schoepffwasser.


Friedrich Wilhelm I 1713

Friedrich Wilhelm I 1713 by Samuel Theodor Gericke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First Coffee Shop In Berlin, Germany

The first coffee shop opens in Berlin and King Frederick William I is a big fan.

He tells the Englishman operating the coffee house that he doesn’t have to pay any rent as long as he keeps the coffee flowing.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach
Elias Gottlob Haussmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bach Writes An Operetta About The Saxon's Coffee Drinking Habits

Coffee hasn’t only been the inspiration behind your late night hours in the office.

In 1732 Johann Sebastian Bach wrote: "I need to have coffee, coffee; if you want to give me a treat - pour me a cup of coffee,".

The poor people started grumbling because they couldn’t afford coffee. The upper class and some doctors spread rumors saying that coffee caused sterility so poor people shouldn’t bother with it anyway.

Bach went on to compose his Coffee Cantata in protest.

King Frederick The Great Portrait

The only portrait Frederick ever personally sat for (by Ziesenis, 1763)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Frederick The Great Issues The Famous Beer And Coffee Manifesto

King Frederick II was less of a coffee fan than his predecessor. It wasn’t the taste that bugged him but how much money was flowing out of German coffers and into foreign merchant’s accounts.

He issued his Beer and Coffee Manifesto in an effort to convince his people that they should stick to drinking German beer but eventually people just said:

“Hey, why don’t we just drink plenty of both?”


OK, you can have your damn coffee but you need a license to roast it and I'm the guy who decides who gets a license!

"I'm The Guy Who Decides Who Gets The License To Roast", Says King Frederick

King Frederick says:

“OK, you can have your damn coffee but you need a license to roast it and I’m the guy who decides who gets a license.”

Turns out he only handed licenses out to his rich buddies. If you’ve ever tasted burnt coffee then you’ll agree that a license to roast may not be such a bad idea.

Frederick actually commissioned some of his wounded soldiers to walk around and sniff out people who were roasting coffee illegally.


Thou shalt not roast!

Want Coffee? Of Course! Just Buy 50 Pounds!

Eventually even the Bishop of Münster was preaching

“Thou shalt not roast”

from the pulpit.

He put out a manifesto saying that you could only drink coffee at home if you could afford to buy 50 pounds at a time. It’s hardly surprising that there were fewer people in the pews the following week.

Those that did show up slept through the whole service.

Coffee During Civil War

1800 - 1899

Benjamin Thompson Inventor Percolator

Benjamin Thompson[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thompson Invented The Percolator, Because He's A Smart Guy

The coffee back then didn’t exactly taste great. An American-born British physicist called Sir Benjamin Thompson thought

“Hey, I’m a smart guy. Surely there’s a better way to make coffee”

and promptly invented the drip coffeepot and coffee percolator. Ah, that’s better.

Espresso machine first patent angelo moriondo

First Steam Espresso Machine Patent 1884By Mr. Angelo Moriondo [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A French Dude Designs The First Espresso Machine

By this time the French were loving their coffee but the thought of using a machine with American and British roots to make their brew was just too much.

Lucky for them a Frenchman called Louis Bernard Rabaut designed a machine that used steam power to force hot water through the coffee grounds giving birth to the espresso and saving face for France.

coffee berries eaten and passed by civet cat Kopi Luwak

Coffee berries Luwak @ fotoall

Indonesian Coffee Farmers Consume Now Most Expensive Kopi Luwak Coffee By Accident

World coffee production hits 2.5 million bags per year but it’s still hampered by elitist attitudes in places.

In Indonesia the coffee farmers were not allowed to pick their own coffee cherries. To get their fix they would collect the coffee cherries off the ground that had been eaten and passed by a luwak, or Asian civet cat.

It turned out that the undigested beans made even better coffee than the beans that had been nowhere near a cat’s bum.

Kopi Luwak was a poor man’s coffee in 1830 but now you’ll need to remortgage your home to buy a bag.

james a folger - founder of folgers coffee

James A. Folger - Founder of Folgers Coffee

First Coffee Roasting Plant In San Francisco

William H. Bovee opens the first coffee roasting plant in San Francisco and then four years later sells it to one of his employees,

Jim Folger.

It’s been more than 150 years and Folgers still can’t manage to roast a decent coffee.

Oh well, it was a start.

instant coffee vintage

Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee Introduced In Civil War

If you thought the American civil war was pretty bad with all the shooting and dying, imagine how terrible it was due to the first instant coffee being created and sold as “cakes”.

Robert E. Lee is quoted as saying:

"It is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow too fond of it."

The same could probably be said for instant coffee.

Coffee During World Wars

1900 - 1999

Types of italian rapid coffee making machines 1903-1904

Types of Italian Rapid Coffee-Making Machines 1903-1904Title: All About Coffee; Author: William H.

First Commercial Espresso Machine Patent By Luigi Bezerra

Luigi Bezerra patents the first commercial espresso machine.

It’s massive, looks like a space ship and produces bitter coffee.

La Pavoni ideal first espresso machine

Edit yBrochure publicitaire « La Pavoni » pour la France, 1912.our caption text here

"Luigi, You're Wrong, Let Me Do It Right" Says Pavoni

Desiderio Pavoni reckons that the problem is that Luigi is going too hot and heavy. La Pavoni buys the patent and works with Luigi to get the pressure and temperature just right (195F degree and 9 BAR pressure).

The new machine can make 1,000 shots per hour!

Forget the Mario Brothers, these guys are the real Italian heroes.

Ludwig Roselius 1905

Ludwig Roselius
Nicola Perscheid [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Boooo Roselius. How Could You Tell The World About Decaf?

Ludwig Roselius accidentally discovers decaffeinated coffee after a shipment of his coffee beans was soaked in seawater.

“Hey Ludwig, this coffee still tastes fine but I’m not getting any buzz.”

They eventually started using benzene in the process which is fine if you don’t mind getting cancer. They don’t use this anymore but it’s probably safer to avoid decaf. Just in case.

[Note: This Ludwig guy was a majority shareholder of the Focke-Wulf company during the 2nd world war. The other majority shareholder at the time? ITT, an American company. They actually claimed for damages that their interests suffered by Allied bombing. You can’t make this stuff up.]

John F Kennedy giving speech

Kennedy giving Speech to Congress
By NASA (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John F. Kennedy About Coffee

John F. Kennedy says that if they don’t manage to get trade agreements with coffee producing countries that it could “threaten the security of the entire hemisphere”.

Cuban missile crisis? Easy.

No coffee in the morning? Now that’s a problem.

First Starbucks Opens Its Doors

First Starbucks opens - of course in Seattle - and as the prices steadily rise and the coffee quality declines free WiFi will eventually be one of their last redeeming features.

first mccafe in melbourne 2001

First McCafe Opens In Australia

The first ever McDonalds McCafe opens in Melborne, Australia with one eventually opening in the USA in 2001. 

The circle is complete.

The history of coffee began with a watery brown liquid that tasted horrible and the race for the Dollar has driven us back to those roots.

starbucks frappuccino

Bangkok ,Thailand: Frappuccino Chocolate Blended Beverage
Photo by mrsiraphol -

George Howell's Frappuccino Sold To Starbucks

George Howell, who had started his single origin focused The Coffee Connection back in 1975, finally cashes in by selling it to Starbucks.

Sadly this sale included his trademarked Frappuccino and so this aberration continues to be sold as “coffee” in Starbucks stores to this day.

hot coffee mcdonalds

McDonald Restaurant in Manhatten New York
Photo by lucidwaters -

McDonald's Sells Hot Coffee And Gets Suid Over It

Stella Liebeck buys a coffee from a McDonald's drive-through and proceeds to spill it on her legs causing third degree burns.

She sues McDonald's claiming that the coffee was “unreasonably dangerous” and “defectively manufactured”.

She was awarded $2.86 millions but after trial she finally received $640,000.

dunkin donut coffee with donut on top

Dunkin' Donuts Focuses More On Dunkin', Not Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts realizes that there is more potential for profit in Dunkin’ than in Donuts and begins to shift its focus to coffee.

Their tag line “America runs on Dunkin’” omits the rest of the line which should read “but very slowly because of the donuts”.

Coffee In The New Century

2000 - Now

Aeropress Coffee Maker

How Could We Ever Lived Without The Aeropress?

Famous toy inventor, Alan Adler, makes the natural progression from developing the Aerobie flying disc to inventing the Aeropress coffee maker.

The Aeropress can’t be thrown quite as far as the Aerobie can but it does make a damn great cup of coffee.


How to drink decaf?

Pour it down the drain, make real coffee, and drink that instead!

Decaffeinated Coffee Is NOT Decaffeinated! But Who Drinks Decaf Anyway?

The smart folks at the University of Florida discover that decaffeinated coffee still has some caffeine in it with 5-10 cups of decaf giving you the same buzz as one regular cup of Joe.

They still haven’t come up with sound research explaining why anyone would drink even one cup of decaf, never mind 10.

first starbucks verismo single serve coffee machine 2012

First Starbucks Verismo Single Serve Coffee Maker
Photo Credit:

Starbucks' Answer To Keurig: The Versimo

Starbucks realize that there’s an untapped market of lonely, single, coffee lovers who are too lazy to come to their stores for coffee.

They produce the Verismo which is their first single serve coffee maker.

It’s really expensive, makes OK coffee but you’re still drinking alone so it only really makes sense if you’re all out of booze.

nitro cold brew coffee two glasses

Nitro Coffee Pops Up

Cuvee Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters start selling a cold brew coffee infused with Nitrogen similar to how some draft beers are.

You get the same creamy head and smooth finish that you get from a pint of Guinness but you can drink it at 9 am without people looking at you funny.

Death Wish Coffee Cold Brew Literally Can Kill You

Death Wish Coffee lives up to its name by producing a seriously strong nitro cold brew coffee that also just might contain botulin which is basically Botox.

Injected into your face it’ll get rid of your wrinkles but if you drank it you’d end up with botulism.

The FDA recalled its Nitro Cold Brew but the name on the can should have been your first clue.

TV Commercials Now & Then

1949 - 2000

Sanka Coffee

Maxwell House Coffee

Wilkins Coffee

Melitta Coffee Maker And Filter

Horizon Coffee

Mr. Coffee With Joe DiMaggio

Juan Valdez

Taster's Choice

Unsnobby McDonalds McCafe

Deatch Wish Coffee At Superbowl

The Future Of Coffee

Only Time Will Tell

If you trace the incredible history of coffee you begin to take your morning cup a little more seriously. When you think of the religious, political and economic battles that were fought because of it.

The protests when people couldn’t get enough of it and the lengths (or bottoms in the case of Kopi Luwak) people were willing to go to just to have one more cup.

From its accidental discovery the history of coffee has moved in waves.

The first wave drove it from a curiosity enjoyed in the middle east to a cornerstone of some economies introduced to the masses by the likes of Juan Valdez, Folgers and Maxwell.

The second wave sees coffee go from a beverage that is simply enjoyed in homes to one that needs to be shaped by artisanal roasters, brewers and baristas that can tell you the name of the small South American town where the beans came from.

It goes beyond the innovation of the first coffee machines and becomes a culture, something that has to be branded and mass marketed by companies like Starbucks and Peet’s.

The third wave has moved serious coffee drinkers away from the idea of the big brand coffee pushers. Our need to be in control and the desire to have our individual needs catered for has driven us into the arms of specialty coffee producers.

We now insist on only drinking coffee made from freshly roasted beans and forego machines, preferring manual brewing methods.

It makes you wonder what’s next.

Will the next wave have us looking beyond coffee that is simply organic but have us insist on it coming from a certain town or farm. Will we insist on coffee that is not only Fair Trade but is picked by barefoot virgins under the light of a full moon?

Before you scoff, imagine trying to get people to use an Aeropress back in the 80’s. 

We’ve changed. Coffee has changed.

The future of coffee may not be up to us. Perhaps global warming will change it all for us. Pretty soon dwindling supplies may see us go back to a time where coffee is in such short supply that only the rich are able to afford it.

 The importance of coffee to our civil society may once again come to the fore when the man on the street is rationed to one cup a day. One cup a week.

If it ever came to that you can be sure that I’d be joining the protests to do my part in shaping the future of coffee history.

The final question is: will you join me?