(Depending on how you make it)
Who makes the strongest coffee in the world? What makes a coffee strong? Is it extra dark and bitter? Super-caffeinated? Do you use more coffee grounds or more water? Or maybe extra hot water?
It turns out that strong coffee means different things to different people, and it varies from place to place. The Specialty Coffee Association (the Authority on all things coffee) measures how strong a coffee is by the amount of total dissolved solids, or coffee concentration – how much coffee is actually in your coffee, in other words. That’s the official definition!
So a darker coffee isn’t stronger? Nope. Not unless you make it that way. While the Black Knight is a brute, he’s not really any stronger than a mugful of Guatemalan Huehuetenango. Black Knight does, however, carry a cool sword and ride a pitch-black destrier into battle.
And stronger doesn’t mean more caffeine? Nope. In fact, lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, so if you want a bigger jolt, reach for the light roasts like White Knight or Organic Congo.
Rumor has it Robusta coffee has more caffeine. That’s true! On a bean-per-bean basis, Robusta, which is a coffee varietal, has more caffeine than Arabica. Trouble is, it doesn’t taste as good, which is why it’s almost exclusively used in blends in the United States and not sold all by itself. It adds some flavor, body, caffeine, and helps espresso develop a nice crema, but all by itself, it’s just not very tasty.
- Kristiyana Ancheva, the owner of Zero Point Espresso Bar in Spain, says that when customers order a strong coffee, they want a beverage with a full and rounded body.
- According to Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a champion barista from Greece, a strong coffee should have a long-lasting and intense flavor. He adds: “For the general public, a thicker body translates into a more intense drink.”
- Tommaso Bongini is a roaster for Gearbox Coffee, in Florence, Italy. He says, “Many people here associate strong coffee with a cup that has a huge impact in your mouth in terms of aromas and flavours, and not the caffeine content.” According to Tommaso, Italians find bitterness to be more desirable in a cup of coffee, and don’t look for acidity.
- Fiqri Aunurofiq is a barista for Three Folks Coffee & Creamery in Indonesia. He says his customers consider a strong coffee to be “black, hot and bitter.”
- Indonesian coffee shop owner Jaya Lim, however, refers to the caffeine content of the cup, saying that a “strong coffee makes my heart beat faster after a sip, like Vietnamese street coffee.”
- Shaun Aupais is the founder of the Red Band Barista Academy in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He believes that, generally speaking, people define strong coffee based on “how bitter the coffee is, and the length of time that you steep it for.”
So you want to make STRONG coffee at home…
First, figure out what strong means to you. If it means rich and dark, try our Dark Mexican or Dark Sumatra! If you’re looking for an eye-opener, try our Octane blend if you like a dark roast, or our Breakfast Blend which is light and smooth as silk. Typically, Indonesian coffees like Bali Blue Moon and Organic Sumatra will have a bolder, more savory taste than, for instance, a spicy and smooth Costa Rican Tarrazu. And African coffees like Ethiopian Sidamo will generally be brighter and lighter still - but they win in caffeination.
So if you want strong coffee, you use more grounds? Not really, no. In a drip coffeemaker, using less grounds with the same amount of water will cause over-extraction giving you a bitter, thin-tasting cup, while using too much coffee will give you an under-extracted coffee that will taste sour because the water hasn’t been able to break down the sugars and sweeter notes. While you can and should adjust to your personal taste, the coffee-to-water ratio is fairly well defined by brewing method, so check the instructions on your coffeemaker for what they’ve determined to be the right amount and right grind for you.
Since strong really just means a higher coffee-to-water ratio, and has nothing to do with flavor or caffeination, think in terms of how heavy or light you want your coffee to taste. Each coffee has a distinctive taste, boldness, smoothness, brightness, and so on. In any case, there’s no wrong way to have your coffee – as long as it’s Fresh Roasted!
So Fresh Roasted Coffee lover, what does strong mean to you? Let us know your recipe for the perfect cup!