How to Make Strong Coffee to Stay Awake


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If you want to know how to make strong coffee, figure out what “strong” means.

Strong coffee may be caffeinated instead of decaffeinated. It might mean extra-caffeinated. Strong may mean bitter. Sometimes it refers to a darker roast. Strong might be a robust flavor. Strong could mean it just tastes terrible.

Is how to make strong coffee something you want to do or something you want to avoid?

I may date myself, but I remember saying a cup of strong coffee was “John Wayne coffee.” I hiked through Appalachia with some friends, and when one guy made coffee, we called it John Wayne coffee because he put twice as much instant coffee in the pot as the rest of us. Talk about an eye-opener! Read on for other eye-openers on how to make strong coffee.

What Makes Coffee Strong or Weak?

Coffee drinkers divide into two schools of thought regarding this question.

One school refers to the amount of caffeine in coffee. The critical feature of coffee for these drinkers is its effect on them. A cup of coffee with minor caffeine effects will be weak, and a cup that energizes them will be strong.

Another school refers to the taste of coffee. A weak cup of coffee will be one with little flavor. A strong cup of coffee may have flavor, but not in a good way. These coffee drinkers don’t want weak or strong coffee. They want coffee that tastes “just right.”

Does Strong Mean Bitter or Caffeinated?

Strong can mean bitter. Strong can mean caffeinated. Strong can mean added caffeine. Think about how people talk.

A person tastes a cup of coffee, then they wrinkle their nose and shake their head. “Yuck. That coffee is strong.” Another says matter of factly, “I drink decaf because regular coffee is just too strong.” A truck driver adds a caffeine shot to his coffee. “I have to drive for ten hours. I need strong coffee!”

How to Make Strong Coffee that Keeps you Awake?

What makes or breaks a strong cup of coffee. Let’s look at strong equaling bad first.

1.    Temperature and Time

The first way to make coffee strong is to use hot water in brewing. Coffee exposed to too high of heat will burn and taste strong. Heat too high also releases more acids from the ground beans, resulting in bitter coffee. Coffee brewed at too low of heat will taste flat and weak. The best temperature to brew coffee is below boiling, between 195° and 205°.

The second way to ruin coffee is to over-extract the coffee grounds. Over-heating will do that, but the common mistake is to expose the coffee grounds to water for too long.

Coffee grounds have water-soluble flavors, and when it has too much of those flavors removed, it has a bad taste. When coffee is not exposed to water long enough, it has a flat or weak flavor.

Now, let’s look at the more favorable ways of how to make strong coffee.

2.    Roast Profile: Choose a Dark Roast

Green coffee beans contain all the acids, protein, nutrients, and caffeine of coffee, but they have no complex flavor. The roasting process adds flavors.

The designated roast of a coffee can be light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. The labels are accurate. Light roast coffee roasts at lower temperatures (about 350° – 400°F) for about 5 minutes. Dark roast requires 465° – 480°F and 12 – 13 minutes. Medium roasts fall somewhere in the middle.

A light roast coffee has high acidity, giving it a sour taste instead of the bolder flavor of a dark roast. It will have fruity and floral flavors from the coffee cherry, which have not been roasted out of the bean. A light roast will also carry extra sweetness, as the longer roasting process has not caramelized the sugars in the bean.

Dark roast coffee has been roasted the longest and is less acidic, giving it more body. It tastes and feels richer than other roasts. Some people think dark roasts are bitter because the sugars in the bean are caramelized. If they would explore the flavors below the bitterness on the tongue they would find it carries intense and robust earthy, caramelly, nutty, and dark chocolate flavors.

3.    Use a Brewing Method that Creates the Strongest Cup

You can use a percolator, an automatic drip, a cold press, a French press, a pour-over, a coffee sock, and about a dozen more brewing methods to make coffee. It takes time to work and play with all of them. So, here are my favorite brewing methods if you want to know how to make strong coffee.

Espresso MakerThese machines are expensive and effective at making strong coffee. The coffee that emerges is full-bodied, thick, bold, and rich, with a delightful foam or crema. If you want an eye-opener and have deep pockets, give this a try.

Moka Pot – If your pockets aren’t so deep, try one of these. They come in an electric style, but most are stovetop pots. They brew a coffee much like an espresso maker; however, these pots do not produce a crema.

Turkish Coffee Pot –  My first cup hooked me. The coffee was full-bodied, thick, aromatic, bold, intense, roust, energizing, and had a delightful crema on top. The Turkish coffee pot is also called an Ibrik, Cezve, or Ibriq. Turkish coffee is made with an extra-fine grind impossible to get with common coffee grinders. It requires a special grinder.

4.    Use a Finer Grind for Your Coffee

Generally, different grinds and brewing methods will produce different flavors and strengths of coffee. I use a medium grind for my automatic drip and a fine grind in my Moka.

Coffee is a beautiful art, so play around with it until you get the cup that is the finest part of waking up.

5.    Adjust your Coffee to Water Ratio

The “Golden Ratio” promoted by the National Coffee Association is 1-2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water. Using more coffee or less water will make a “stronger” cup, but it may make the coffee too bold or even undrinkable.

A starting point is 160 beans (or 0.53 ounces or 15 grams) per 8-ounce cup. Again, experiment with different roasts and ratios to get your best cup. If you find your coffee too weak, then add or use more coffee to your brew.

6.    The Type of Bean: Use Robusta Coffee Beans

Speaking of caffeine, Robusta beans have a higher caffeine content than Arabica. While the taste isn’t as great as Arabica, you can create a strong cup of coffee using Robusta beans.

However, Robusta bean alone is perceived as bitter. So, some brands and roasteries blend Robusta coffees with Arabica beans to create a smooth flavor profile. Robusta and Arabica are also blended together to get the right balance of strong and sweet coffee.

Does Brewing Coffee Twice Make It Stronger?

I tried this once and wondered why anyone would want to brew the same coffee twice. The stuff was undrinkable. Then, I learned brewing the same coffee twice is not double brewing. Coffee is over-extracted and bitter if coffee grounds are used more than once.

Two methods can accomplish double brewing. You can brew a pot of coffee then use that coffee to brew it again with fresh grounds. This becomes tedious. Coffee is finicky and doesn’t always appreciate reheating, and some coffee makers are not designed to use brewed coffee to brew coffee. The second method is easy – use twice the grounds or 3-4 tablespoons per 6 ounces.

The result will be not only double the flavor (which is superb for making cold coffee), but it also means double caffeine. I love it, but sometimes I vibrate after drinking it.

Is There a Coffee Bean that Creates the Strongest Cup?

There are many things that separate coffee beans from one another. It can be the type of bean, growing location, processing methods, and so on.

In terms of strong coffee, I think that will depend on some factors. There are brands that claim to offer the strongest coffee, and there are some that skillfully roasts the beans to have that strong and bold coffee flavor.

Volcanica Coffee offer an enjoyable but strong cup of coffee trough their dark roast coffees. If strong coffee emphasizes a unique smoky and toasted flavor, then their dark roasted coffees can be included in this category.

Death Wish Coffee claims to be the world’s strongest coffee. A lot of people find it stronger than your average coffee which can keep you alert and focused at work. Again, the beans are dark roast, and how they’re roasted can impact the taste. Aside from that, Death Wish Coffee use Robusta in their blends to add more caffeine.

Having that said, if you want a low-acidic, smooth, and strong cup of coffee, I recommend using authentic Vietnamese Robusta beans. Nguyen Coffee Supply also recommends the Robusta for a darker and stronger taste. This is also the type of coffee that compliments the sweet flavor of the delicious Vietnamese style coffee.

Is Strong Coffee Bad for You?

I remember when I was beginning to drink coffee. Sometimes I would recoil from an intense, bold flavor. My dad would laugh, tell me to “drink up,” and say, “It’ll put hair on your chest!” I guess he was right. I have a hairy chest now.

Coffee is linked to lower rates of Parkinson’s, heart problems, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Type II diabetes. It improves performance and reaction time, burns fat, and may even extend your life.

The bad part of drinking coffee is the caffeine. Some people have a tolerance, and some people are sensitive to caffeine. Coffee can make you anxious, nervous, and jittery, plus the acids in it will upset some people’s stomachs.

A Final Word

If strong coffee is lousy coffee, for any reason, adjust the ratio of coffee to water, brew it quicker, brew it differently, reduce the heat, use a coarser grind, or try a different roast.

If your strong brew is good, play around with it and see if any of these changes can help you discover the best coffee has for you.

Like this article? You might to read: How to Make Your Coffee Taste Good