How to Make Strong Coffee
Making coffee which is both high in strength and great-tasting can be tricky. In this short article I’m going to provide some pointers to help you make delicious coffee that is strong enough to wake the dead.
There are multiple definitions of 'strong coffee' so the first step is to be clear on what exactly you require: the highest possible caffeine content, a strong taste that makes you shudder – or a little bit of both?
If you just want palpitation inducing levels of caffeine then grind some caffeine pills into your coffee and be done with it. For a taste that makes you shudder you can buy super-dark French Roast coffee and brew 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. But assuming you want high caffeine and a full-on taste, here are some tips you can use.
Select the right beans
First up you need to select the rind kind of beans. The two most common types are Arabica and Robusta.
Generally speaking Arabica beans are less strong but taste better. Robusta beans have double the caffeine of Arabica beans and a stronger more full-bodied taste – ideal right?
Sadly many varieties of Robusta taste like burnt car tyres, particularly those from Vietnam and Indonesia. As a result there is an attitude that all Robustas are inferior. This is not necessarily true. There are actually some amazing Robustas out there. Don’t be put-off by the stereotypes.
For a good strong coffee look for an Arabica & Robusta blend, or a high-quality single-origin Robusta. Rwanda, Guatemala and India produce some good ones.
A darker roast will have a stronger taste. But if the roast is too dark the coffee will taste burnt and bitter – like the beans at Starbucks. Think of it like toasting bread. Too dark and you taste carbon rather than the bread itself. So assuming your taste buds work I’d recommend a medium/dark roast with the right kind of beans. This way you’ll be able to enjoy the unique flavours of the beans, but a more rich and bold taste.
The fresher the coffee beans, the more flavoursome they will be. As coffee gets older the oils that produce the great taste start to dry out. This is accelerated when coffee is ground. Buy beans with a date-roasted stamp, not a use-by date. Keep them in an airtight container and use within a month or so.
Over to you
The steps above will get you to the start line. But mastering great-tasting strong coffee is massively down to what you do with it. The right beans will only get you so far if you don’t prepare them properly.
If you are remotely serious about coffee then invest in a grinder - now! Grinding beans right before brewing not only ensures the freshest and tastiest coffee; it also allows you to experiment with different grind settings for your coffee maker. The optimal grind will allow you to extract maximum flavour and caffeine, without over-extracting. In your quest for strong coffee a grinder will be a really helpful tool.
Amount of coffee
Have a play around with brewing ratios. Speciality coffee connoisseurs use 60-70g of coffee per 1000g of water. I’d recommend using more than this for a stronger coffee. Try using 100g per 1000g of water – so 25g per 250ml. If this isn’t strong enough then keep adjusting until you are happy!
Using a set of kitchen scales makes such a huge difference to perfecting your coffee brewing.
Different types of brewing method produce stronger coffee. You are looking for the method that achieves the most extraction.
Consider the following:
- The amount of time the coffee is in contact with water. More contact time means stronger coffee, but too long and it will turn bitter.
- The temperature of the water. Too hot, you might extract stuff you don't want. Too cold and you won’t extract the flavours. 93° Celsius is considered optimal.
- Does you brewing method allow you to adjust temperature and time?
There a countless ways of brewing coffee. But some effective ways of getting great strong coffee are the Cafetiere (French Press), AeroPress and Pour-Over.
However in my opinion the French Press can make the strongest. This is because the grounds are fully immersed in the water for several minutes.
Some people recommend pouring brewed coffee back through the grounds. I don't recommend this at it tastes a bit rough. When you brew coffee you extract the good tasting oils first, but if you brew too long you get the stuff you don’t want.
There you have it. Follow these simple pointers and you will be able to brew fantastic maximum-strength coffee.
Want to know more? Comment below if there is anything you'd like discussed further.