What really is strong coffee? What beans make stronger coffee? How to brew the strongest coffee? The answers to these important questions will likely surprise you.
Would You Like One Lump Of Charcoal Or Two With That Coffee?
Even though coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth and is the number one consumed drink in America, it’s also one of the most misunderstood part of our daily routine.
From time to time, I’ll attend an event and give out free coffee samples. Inevitably, I’ll be told by some big strong, strapping man with a deep voice, “I love strong coffee”. Just for fun, I ask, “What do you mean by strong”? Almost every time, they look at me like I just sprouted a second head. They’ll stammer, “You know, coffee that’s black as the ace of spades and thick enough to hold up a horseshoe”.
With a smile, I say, “You know that’s just a Hollywood myth”. If I made coffee for you that strong, you’d most likely puke it up”. And if you could hold it down, it wouldn’t taste much different than Kingsford Charcoal.
Coffee beans, which have had the snot burned out of them do not make strong coffee. What burnt beans make is strong flavored charcoal. In fact, the darker the bean the less caffeine, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and coffee flavor.
You have a choice. You can taste the bean or you can taste the roaster. If you like tasting the roaster, i.e., bitter and burnt industrial coffee, then you can easily drive down to your local Charbucks, give them your hard earned money, in which case they’ll gladly support whatever Politically Correct Social Justice movement is popular at the time, and they’ll give you a cup of bitter and burnt industrial coffee worthy only of cleaning grease off your car brakes.
Now that we know that “strong coffee” isn’t just blacker or thicker coffee. Let’s define what real coffee tastes like when it’s brewed strong.
Here’s a little history lesson for you. In the old days, your Great-Grandma and legendary cowboys, never purchased roasted beans. Why? Because they spoiled quickly.
So, they purchased green coffee beans and every week, they roasted just enough beans to last the week. And they roasted the beans to a dark “brown”, never black. Thus, preserving the oils within the beans, which, as I said, is where the antioxidants, bioflavonoids, caffeine, and flavor reside.
The coffee, which your Great-Grandma and the cowboys made, was smooth as silk, with notes of chocolate and nut, and was also strong enough to make a grown man cry. Here’s how they did it.
- The beans were roasted to a dark brown (never black).
- They roasted their beans weekly.
- Beans were ground to a medium-course grind.
- While brewing, they steeped their coffee, i.e., letting the grounds sit in the water for minutes to hours, depending on how strong they wanted their coffee. (For a more detailed description of brewing techniques and their differences, CLICK HERE).
- They had a high grounds-to-water-ratio. I personally like about ½ cup of
If you truly love coffee and you want to drink stronger coffee, that actually tastes like coffee, without the bitter charcoal taste, then you’re listening to the right guy. You see, I hate bitter and burnt industrial coffee too. I want my coffee to taste like real coffee, which is also smooth as silk, i.e. no bitter flavor. And that’s exactly why I started Lake City Coffee. But we’ll talk about Lake City Coffee later when we wind this subject up.
Having the right bean, the right roast, and fresh, is only half of the equation to a smooth and strong cup of coffee. The other half of the equation is how you brew your coffee.
I’m not a big fan of espresso machines or moka pots. These methods are fine if you’re looking for a slap-in-the face. And any drip method, just doesn’t bring out the best of any type of bean. If this was a poker game, drip brewing methods leave a lot of money on the table, or in this case; drip brewing leaves a lot of flavor in the beans and thus not in your cup.
On the other hand, if you want smooth AND strong, then you want a brewing method that “steeps” the grounds, like cold-brew, AeroPress, or French Press. In each of these premier brewing methods, the trick to making the smoothest AND strongest coffee comes down to the grounds to water ratio. I can’t tell you what that ratio is. It all depends on the coffee beans with which you’re working, your brewing method, and most of all, your personal preference.
For example: When I Cold-Brew, I use 1 Cup of course grounds to 1 Quart Mason Jar. Or when I use the AeroPress, I use ½ cup of medium-fine grounds to 2 Cups of water.
What all this boils down to (pun intended) is this. You need to experiment. If you’re not willing to experiment with different beans, roasts, brewing methods, and grounds, then just go back to drinking crappy coffee. Don’t worry, most people drink crappy coffee and they’re perfectly happy about it.
As I said above, and it’s worth saying again; strong coffee is not a function of how burnt the coffee is. I can make white coffee, that’s so strong, it’ll kick your ass and leave you whimpering and shaking like a little girl in a lion’s den.
Lake City Coffee
Alisha, my beautiful, smart, and talented wife; and I started Lake City Coffee because we wanted to share the kind of coffee that we like, which interestingly enough is the same coffee that your Great-Grandma made; smooth and strong.
We only offer one bean. Yep, I know, crazy huh? All other coffee companies offer dozens of kinds of beans, which is nuts to me, since most coffee drinkers can’t tell the difference between Charbucks and Kingsford; much less than between Ethiopian and Columbian.
100% of our coffee is sourced from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, world-renowned for it’s super smooth (non-bitter) chocolate, and nut flavor. Even our Swiss Water Processed Decaf comes from Costa Rica. If offering only one Costa Rican bean wasn’t crazy enough, we only have three roasts; White, Medium, and (barely) Dark.
If you’re in the mood for some super smooth, yet strong coffee, then give us a try.