Do you like your coffee strong? Many people do. That bold and rich taste is the stuff dreams are made of.
Very few people ever seem to enthuse about weak coffee, and for a good reason. Coffee powers us through our days and helps us feel even-keeled. If you like strong, caffeinated coffee with a taste that perks you up, then this article is definitely for you.
But what exactly makes coffee strong? Does using more coffee make it stronger?
In short, yes, it does. But there’s so much more to it than this short answer. Let’s delve into what makes coffee strong in the first place and how you can find your desired level of caffeination and strength to start each morning off on the right foot.
What exactly is a strong coffee?
When it comes to descriptors that are most used for coffee, ‘strong’ is used most often. What that means though can vary. After all, you might define a cup of coffee your neighbor serves you when you stop by as weak (not that you’d ever tell them that) while they might come over to your home and find it too strong.
We all have different interpretations of ‘strong.’ Much like the word ‘normal.’ What you perceive as normal might be deemed totally insane by your neighbor and vice versa. So let’s look at what strong means in the world of coffee.
Strong Does Not Mean Bitter or Caffeinated
For starters, many people mistakenly grope for the adjective of ‘strong’ to describe coffee that is very caffeinated or bitter. But Inigo Montoya would protest that perhaps the word you keep using is not what you think it means.
When it comes to bitterness, it’s not from brewing your coffee in a strong way. In fact, when coffee is bitter, it’s a negative sign. Bitter coffee comes from the roast profile. Some people further confuse bitterness with the coffee being burnt. Burnt coffee comes from either over-roasting the beans, brewing with water that is too hot (over 205°F), or leaving it sitting brewed for lengthy durations on a hot plate (which is what you usually taste when you’re stuck in some waiting room or grab a coffee from the gas station).
Therefore, bitterness and those burnt flavors are not a reflection of strong coffee. These are negative traits that have nothing to do with how strong the coffee is. Strong coffee is a good thing, as you’ll see shortly.
By the same token, coffee with a high caffeine content isn’t strong. It just has lots of caffeine. You can get a higher level of caffeine by using more coffee, but the strength and the caffeine level are different things.
Strong Coffee is Rich, Weighty Coffee
So, if strong coffee isn’t bitter or overly caffeinated, then what should it be? It should have a rich and dense feel to it. It’s never watery and thin. In fact, it helps to compare it a bit to wine. It should be full-bodied, much like Cabernet is. Compare Cabernet to Pinot Noir and you can clearly see the distinction. If you’re not a wine lover though, do know that the thickness doesn’t mean it should be like sludge. If it’s a sludge you’re getting from that gas station on your road trip or while you wait an hour for your appointment, that’s definitely not the same thing.
Basically, strong coffee has weight to it. You can taste the delight of the roast on your palate and it has a lovely texture that envelops you, bringing you joy with every sip.
This is the kind of coffee you’re likely to be served in a fine dining establishment after a robust meal or at a good coffeehouse. But you don’t have to wait until those occasions to enjoy strong coffee that sends you to the height of happiness. You can make it at home. You just need a few tips to get it right. Keep reading and you’ll soon be a master of making strong coffee in your own kitchen!
To Make Strong Coffee, Adjust Your Coffee to Water Ratio
If you want to make strong coffee, you just need to make a few easy adjustments. In particular, it involves adjusting the ratio of coffee to water that you’re using. It’s really quite simple. If you want stronger coffee, simply use more grounds for the amount of water you’re using.
That’s really it! See? It’s so simple! Of course, you should make sure you’re using quality beans that are fresh and whole. Only grind up what you need to make your daily coffee. It may take a few tries to get the ratio right but once you do, you’ll always get it right. You can also use a kitchen scale to help you weigh out the right amount of beans to grind up so you have enough grounds for the task of making stronger coffee.
Does using more coffee make it stronger?
Yes, using more coffee makes it stronger. As mentioned, that ratio to water needs to be higher on the coffee end of things to make that happen.
But what about the caffeine? Also mentioned earlier on, strong coffee has nothing to do with the caffeine content. But if you want more caffeine per cup, you can try a few things. The first option is to buy a lighter roast. The lighter your roast is, the more caffeine it will have. This fact often stuns lifelong coffee drinkers because it would seem those dark and heady roasts would have more caffeine. The opposite is true, so now you know.
Another thing to do for more caffeine is to lengthen the brewing time. You can control this with some coffee machines, but not all. If you have a simple coffee maker, you might want to try buying your whole roasted coffee beans in a lighter roast next time and get more caffeine to punch you awake in the mornings.
How do you make strong coffee?
So now that we know coffee strength is not in the caffeine, you might want to make your coffee strong as per the definition coffee aficionados have set for it. There are three ways you can make that happen.
The first is what we just discussed above – changing the ratio of the coffee grounds to the water you use. If you’re using a drip coffee maker, you are often suggested to use two tablespoons of your grounds for every cup (or 6 ounces) of water. But if you want it stronger, add more grounds than that standard recommendation.
The second is to use a darker roast. Of course, if more caffeine is your goal, you’ll want to go lighter. But if you want the taste to be stronger, to be the Cabernet of the coffee world, you should go with a dark roast. It will have a richer flavor.
The final way to adjust coffee strength is to go with a different brewing method. You should try this suggestion after adjusting your ratio and going with darker roasts. If you still don’t get the desired strong flavor you’re craving, you might want to upgrade to a new coffee machine that is more advanced.
Don’t forget that you should always have a clean machine to make your coffee in. If you’ve neglected cleaning it and to descale it at regular intervals, you can’t expect your coffee to taste amazing, even if you buy the freshest and best coffee beans around. You can read all about how to clean your coffee maker so you keep the bitterness out of the equation right here!
Another pro tip is the grind you use. When you use your grinder, you must be careful with how finely you grind up the beans. You can read about grinding tips here!
Can you overdose on caffeine?
Many coffee drinkers rely on the caffeine coffee contains to keep them awake in the morning or for pulling a late night of work or study. But there is always such a thing as too much of a good thing. You can get a caffeine overdose if you consume too much caffeine via drinks like coffee, tea, or energy drinks. You can also get too much through foods (our beloved chocolate contains caffeine) or even medications or diet pills.
Some people are able to take in more than the recommended daily value of caffeine without any noticeable problems, but it’s something you shouldn’t do. High doses of caffeine can be problematic for your health. They can make your heartbeat irregular and potentially cause seizures. Additionally, hormones can become unbalanced.
Those that don’t drink caffeine often can really feel the effects when they consume too much of it. And even if you do have lots of caffeine every day, you should curb your intake if you find you feel unusual.
But what’s normal? Keep reading and you’ll find out!
How to know if you’re overdosing on caffeine
You may not initially notice the symptoms of a caffeine overdose because some of them don’t often seem serious or you might not think to associate them with caffeine. However, if you start feeling dizzy, get a sudden headache, become irritable, have increased thirst, run to the bathroom with diarrhea, run a fever, or can’t sleep at night, you may be overdoing it with the caffeine.
While these symptoms are unpleasant, to say the least, caffeine overdoses can become very serious if you keep taking in more caffeine than you should. If you or perhaps someone in the office has one of these serious symptoms, immediate medical treatment is necessary. Again, this takes a lot of caffeine to happen, but it would be unwise not to warn you of what can happen if you chug down more coffee than that one episode in which Frye did so in Futurama.
These super-serious symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Speedy or irregular heartbeat
- Muscle spasms
If you’re a new mom getting back on the grind or just enjoying the freedom of being able to have more than a cup of coffee a day like when you were pregnant, you should also take special care. It’s not that you can’t have any coffee if you’re breastfeeding, however, you should watch how much you drink. Generally, having a cup or two a day should be fine, especially if you work them in after a nursing session.
But you should know that your baby can also suffer a caffeine overdose if you have too much of it in your breast milk. Be cautious and watch out for nausea or muscles tensing up and relaxing. Serious symptoms that will need your immediate action are rapid breathing, vomiting, and shock.
If you love coffee and love your baby, there’s no need to quit coffee. But perhaps switching to a less caffeinated variety like a dark roast will help. Yes, new moms could do with a jolt awake after sleepless nights, but when you lessen the caffeine content and get a stronger, richer cup of coffee out of it, you and your baby will fare better for that decision.
Too many people assume strong coffee means it’s bitter or burnt in taste, or that it has tons of caffeine. As you can see from above, that myth is busted. You do want strong coffee though because what’s the point of drinking thin, watery, brown liquid with a blah flavor to it?
Coffee should be treated like wine in the way we taste it and derive our pleasures from it dancing upon our palates. Strong coffee tastes rich and bold, and the texture is a bit thicker than water, though certainly not like sludge.
Choosing a quality and darker roast will ensure you have the best richness. Though if it’s the caffeine you’re after, go lighter on the roast. Use more coffee grounds per the water you use and you’ll be closer to café-style coffee in your home!