How to Make Strong Coffee? - Driftaway Coffee

How Do I Make My Coffee Strong?

Strong is one of the most common adjectives people use to describe coffee. What exactly is strong coffee though? Although many people often use the word to characterize coffee, they may mean any number of things by it. In the coffee world, however, strong is a specific term with a specific definition.

Strong Does Not Mean Bitter or Caffeinated

Strong coffee may be used to describe bitter or highly caffeinated coffee, but this isn’t what the word actually means to us in the coffee world.

Bitterness doesn’t come from brewing coffee “extra strong,” but rather is a negative attribute that arises from the green beans or the roast profile. Sometimes bitterness is also confused with burnt coffee, which may be a result of over-roasting, brewing with water hotter than 205°F, or leaving brewed coffee on a hot plate. Bitterness and burnt flavors do not reflect a strong coffee but one that is less than ideal.

Similarly, highly caffeinated coffee is not strong coffee. It just has a lot of caffeine. While most home coffee drinkers achieve a higher caffeine level by using more coffee, the caffeine level and strength are two different attributes.

Strong Coffee is Rich, Weighty Coffee

Strong coffee is rich, dense coffee. It’s the opposite of a watery, thin brew. It’s a thick cup. It has a full body, like a Cabernet, rather than a light one like a Pinot Noir. Strong coffee is weighty coffee.

To Make Strong Coffee, Adjust Your Coffee to Water Ratio

Making strong coffee is a simple adjustment of the coffee-water ratio, since those are the only two ingredients used in the brewing process. To make a stronger brew, just increase the amount of grounds used without altering the quantity of water you use. This will alter the ratio and produce a stronger cup.

Most brew methods use a coffee-water ratio that falls between 1:18 and 1:16 (1 part coffee and 18 to 16 parts water). To find the strength you prefer, start out with a 1:18 ratio and slowly increase it until you find the perfect balance.

If you use too much coffee, which is generally any ratio higher than a 1:16 ratio, your brew will be under-extracted. It will have a sour taste because solubles weren’t fully dissolved in the water. You’ve gone too far and won’t be able to produce a stronger cup with this coffee. Try switching coffees to one with a different flavor and roast profile, and re-starting with a 1:18 ratio. You will eventually find a coffee, roast profile and brew ratio that produces the strength you like.

Strong coffee doesn’t mean bitter or caffeinated coffee. It means a rich brew that many people enjoy.

To find your ideal strength, try experimenting with the ratio of coffee to water that you use. You may be surprised how strong you like it. Tell us what you find in the comments.

Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • Victor Van Styn

    I home-brew using a french press for the strongest cup (how I prefer it), between three 1/2 and 5 . Another advantage of the plunger_pot method is that since no external heating element contunue to excite the molecules, the beverage cools down much quicker (and as such, must be enjoyed within narrower albeit gracious period of time to taste it before the flavors deviate to a less desirable profile enuniated by cooler temp).

  • Cooper

    freshness rule 1:, keep in mind that coffee loses a bit of flavor after grinding. So wait to grind until the last minute! doing so will provide more flavor, therefore a stronger coffee. A strong cup of coffee is a philosophical ideal and it’s not simple to make, that’s why Starbucks and other coffee companies exist

  • Bean Poet

    It’s funny how people have such different definitions of “strong” coffee, but after speaking with an Italian food scientist who studies coffee, I’m totally on board with your definition here. Her research team brewed coffee eight different ways—three espresso methods, plus French press, AeroPress, moka pot, cold brew and Hario V60—and measured both the caffeine content and the total dissolved solids of the resulting brews. There wasn’t as much correlation as you would think. You can read what their study discovered about caffeine vs. strength.

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