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Jan 20, 2011 04:03 PM

Black coffee?

I grew up drinking coffee black--no cream, no sugar. That is what I consider black coffee. I don't mind if there's milk\cream in my coffee, but do not add sugar as it changes the whole flavor of the coffee.

Over the holidays, my cousin and her husband visited. They declared that they too drink their coffee black. They then asked for sugar. And continued to refer to their coffee as "black."

Is my family the only one who considers "black" coffee no cream AND no sugar?

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  1. No, to me "black" means plain unadulterated coffee, and that is the common usage. For example, I will often asks guests whether they want any sweetener for their coffee and will get the response, "No thanks, I drink it black."

    In a literal sense, I suppose that adding sugar doesn't change the color, so in that sense your cousin is literally correct that the coffee is "black." But, in standard usage, "black" means plain.

    3 Replies
    1. re: masha

      I disagree about the standard usage. In my experience, if you order black coffee, you'll be asked if you want sugar. Which is appropriate, since black is a color, not a flavor.

      1. re: small h


        I always thought black was sans cream and sugar too. I guess there is nothing "standard" about it!

      2. re: masha

        Agreed. To me, black coffee has nothing in it.

      3. I drink decaf coffee, black. To me that means just coffee in the cup, nothing else. Sometimes when I order my usual "medium decaf, black" I get asked if I want sugar. Once in a while I also get asked if I want cream/milk. I'm not sure what that server considers black coffee.

        1. Personally, I agree with you that true black coffee has nothing added to it. I think the Specialty Coffee Association of America would agree with you, too. However, I've read several references to coffee with sugar added with no cream as black coffee.

          1. You don't know how many times we've ordered black coffee, and the waitress brings cream. We always say, "no cream, just BLACK". Most of the time the waitress just doesn't get it. I always thought black coffee was just that..... black coffee.

            1. Go to the New York City area and ask for "regular"'ll get coffee with cream and sugar.

              To me black coffee means no cream...what you do with it after that is your business. At Starbucks they ask "do you want room for cream?"....they don't ask if you want room for "cream and sugar".

              2 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  I spent years ordering a "decaf, dark, 1 sugar" and getting my coffee the way I liked it. Now it seems to be a crap shoot. The last time I ordered that (not in NYC) I got an overly sweet, milky beverage that bore some resemblance to coffee, but not much.

                  Damn you, Starbucks, for creating an impenetrable coffee vocabulary that makes sense to absolutely no one. Just give it to me black and I'll fix it up myself, thanks.