April 26th, 2021
Let’s get one thing straight first.
Are we talking about strong coffee, or ‘Hooo boy that’s strong coffee!’? Because they’re different things.
When we talk about ‘strength’, you need to understand that we’re always talking about caffeine content and NOT strength of flavour. Here at Black Insomnia, our ultimate goal is to create a high caffeine, powerfully energising coffee which actually tastes very smooth and rich (not harsh and bitter, like many high caffeine, strong tasting coffees are).
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty (maybe not so gritty, thanks).
How do you make a brew with the highest caffeine content?
There are loads of factors that affect this, and confusingly, there are some crossovers between strength (caffeine) and strength (flavour). Processes which maximise caffeine extraction can also (and often do) intensify the flavour of the brew. But we imagine you’re into that, let’s make it all round STRONG.
If you take nothing else away from this article, just remember this:
Finer grind + longer brewing time = more caffeine.
But trust us, you DON’T want to just burr your beans to death and sloowly brew up the dust. Over-extraction is a thing and you will have regrets.
You’ve already done most of the legwork by equipping yourself with super caffeinated beans. From our blend of Arabica and Fine Robusta, It’s a myth that lighter roasts contain more caffeine; the same bean roasted to different degrees would contain almost exactly the same amount of caffeine at each stage. This blog of ours explains exactly why - Myth Busters. When measuring out your coffee, do it by weight rather than volume, and you’ll get the same amount of caffeine, never mind the roast.
We naturally glean 1105mg of caffeine per 12oz cup, but to extract this sky high volume from the grounds you need to brew them right.
“The smaller the grind size, the bigger the surface area [of the grind],” explains Bob Arnot, M.D., an internal medicine doctor and author of The Coffee Lover’s Bible. “A grind as fine as a cosmetic powder is the one that gives you the very highest extraction.”
As we said though, grinding too fine isn’t advisable. However, it is the reason that espresso is so caffeinated. To make an espresso requires a very finely ground coffee (therefore a slightly greater volume of coffee than you’d normally in any other brewing method) and is prepared using pressurised water - all of which result in a higher concentration of caffeine.
Ounce for ounce, espresso does have more caffeine than a serving of regular drip coffee, but no one (sane) downs an 8 ounce mug of the concentrated stuff, so does not match up when it comes down to it.
Simply, using more coffee grounds will get you more caffeine, whilst using more water dilutes the brew.
The higher your coffee:water ratio is, the stronger your coffee will be taste-wise AND the greater the caffeine content. 2.5 tablespoons of grounds to every 6 ounces of water makes an EPIC brew - but everyone has their personal preference, so you need to experiment to find out how you like it best.
Generally, immersion brewing methods (eg, pour-over brewing) result in the best extraction, as the grounds are totally submerged in water.
If you’re purely after caffeine from your daily brew, Turkish coffee and Cowboy coffee will sort you out. They’re the highest extracting methods (as they use very fine grounds), but chances are they’re not your go-to as they’re un-filtered, so massively bitter and gritty.
Brewing styles like the Kalita, Chemex, V60, cafetiere and AeroPress all produce brilliantly caffeinated brews. Especially if you a) Use a lotta coffee b) Grind your beans to the finer end of the recommended ‘medium-fine’ range (too fine and you’ll have problems though) and c) Brew it with nice hot water for a long period of time (4 minutes plus).
So there you have it, follow all these tips and you won’t sleep for DAYS #sorrynotsorry.
It’s straightforward in terms of caffeine extraction, but strength of flavour is a minefield of subjectivity, so to get your strong brew tasting how you like, it’ down to you experimenting at home.
By Black Insomnia