We’ve all experienced the disappointment of weak, flavorless coffee. So, how do you avoid it and make a delicious, strong brew? Keep reading for our five tips and tricks to make your coffee stronger.
There are two main ways coffee can be strong: caffeine level and flavor. While these factors often go hand in hand, you may want to consider whether your priority is a stronger flavor or a higher caffeine content.
Great coffee beans are determined by two major factors: type of beans and roast level. To brew the strongest coffee, you’ll want to pay attention to both.
Type of Bean
There are two major varieties of coffee beans, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans, which are more expensive and more difficult to grow, are generally considered to have the best flavor and the least bitterness. Robusta beans, on the other hand, contain more caffeine but have a less pleasant, more bitter flavor. For the strongest, most interesting flavor, look for coffee beans that are 100% Arabica.
If your priority is caffeine content, you may want to look for beans that are a mix of flavorful Arabica and caffeine-heavy Robusta. Robusta beans contain about twice as much caffeine, so adding them will increase the caffeine content of your coffee as a whole. Keep in mind, though, that Robusta beans also have a more bitter flavor, so you may end up trading caffeine content for flavor.
When you’re brewing a bold cup of coffee, lighter flavors like fruits, herbs, and flowers are more likely to get lost. For this use, you may prefer blended beans to single-origin coffee.
For the strongest flavor, you may want to purchase dark roasted beans. These are shiny, black beans, often coated with natural oils, that have been roasted for a very long time and have a bold, smoky flavor. Though you may be most familiar with Espresso, Italian, and French roasts, there are several other types as well, including High, Continental, New Orleans, European, and Viennese.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for higher levels of caffeine but don’t like bitter or overly bold coffee, try purchasing light roast beans, which have slightly more caffeine relative to their volume.
Even if you’ve chosen a great variety of perfectly roasted coffee beans, you’ll miss out on a lot of flavor if they’re not fresh. Stale coffee beans still have plenty of caffeine but won’t produce strong flavor.
Making sure your beans are fresh means checking that they’ve been roasted and ground recently. Coffee beans have the most flavor within one to two weeks of roasting. After about a month, they really start to lose flavor. Check your coffee bags for roast dates, or try ordering from a coffee roaster that roasts to order and ships the beans immediately. You can even try roasting your beans at home.
Another way to make sure your coffee is fresh is to buy whole beans and grind them just before brewing. Grinding just the amount you need within 15 minutes of brewing will guarantee fresh, strong flavor.
You can make a strong cup of coffee using any brewing method, but some will be easier than others. For the strongest, most concentrated coffee, try an espresso maker or percolator, both of which are designed to pack a lot of caffeine and flavor into a small cup.
The amount that you grind your beans can have a big impact on the strength of your coffee. Although your preferred brewing method will largely determine the best grind size, keep in mind that coffee ground too coarsely may turn out flavorless and weak.
If you grind your beans too coarsely, they may be under-extracted, meaning they won’t impart enough flavor to the water flowing through them. For strong flavor, you’ll want to grind your beans more finely to allow full extraction. But don’t go too far: if you grind them too finely, they may end up over-extracted, leading to a bitter, unpleasant flavor.
The simplest way to make your coffee stronger is to use more coffee beans. Increase the amount of beans or decrease the amount of water and you’re sure to get a more highly caffeinated, boldly flavored cup of coffee.
The “Golden Ratio” for regular brewed coffee is two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. For a shot of espresso, you typically use about one tablespoon of grounds for every two ounces of water. To strengthen your coffee, experiment by altering these ratios. If you want to get technical, try using a kitchen scale to measure your coffee beans.
You can do this using any brewing method. Brew a double shot of espresso, or brew two small cups of Keurig into the same mug. Add more coffee grounds to your pour-over, or fill your percolator with less water. It’s easy to make a stronger cup of coffee, no matter what brewing method you choose.
Choosing great beans, grinding them well, and picking the perfect brewing method will go a long way toward a bold cup of coffee. And you can hardly go wrong by adding extra coffee beans. We hope that these five tips and tricks help you brew strong, flavorful coffee every time.
By Kate MacDonnell
Featured image credit: leecine, Pixabay