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Does Stronger Coffee Have More Caffeine?

Sometimes we find that some coffee isn’t enough for us, and so we look for something with a little more kick to it. With many varieties to choose from it can be hard to find the strongest coffee that suits our taste. It is also just as hard to find something that has the caffeine to match.

The question is, does a coffee with a stronger flavor have more caffeine?

A Stong flavor does not mean more caffeine. The types of coffee beans, roast level, and brewing method are the primary factors that determine if the coffee has more caffeine or not.

Another determining factor of the amount of caffeine is how the coffee grounds are measured. Measuring by weight or volume is an important factor when looking to get the most out of a dark or light roast. 

So if a stronger taste doesn’t have anything to do with caffeine, how do measuring and brewing make a difference in your cup of joe? And out of all the methods of preparation, which one brings out the most caffeine? Keep reading to find out the science and reasoning of a truly stronger coffee.

Does a Stronger Tasting Coffee Have More Caffeine?

Many coffee drinkers assume that a “strong coffee” means something that has a lot of caffeine, while for most folks this definition makes sense, the food science world defines a coffee’s strength differently.

In regards to food experts and scientists, they don’t look at the chemical composition to determine strength. Instead, they look at how much of the coffee’s chemical ingredients are present in the cup compared to the amount of water.

They express this ratio as a percentage called Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).

What Are Total Dissolved Solids and How Do They Affect Coffee Strength?

Total Dissolved Solids can be described in a nutshell as the number of water-soluble compounds in coffee that are broken down and extracted from the grounds and give our coffee the flavor and caffeine we’re looking for.

The more coffee compounds extracted from the grounds, the higher the caffeine content in the finished beverage.

How Are Total Dissolved Solids Measured?

If you’re hoping to measure the amount of Total Dissolved Solids your wallet might not be very happy. In laboratories, food scientists use machines called a mass spectrometer and a chromatograph to measure TDS. Unless you are a researcher with years of experience and a few thousand dollars to spare this is not much of an option.

The “budget-friendly” version of testing is unfortunately not so kind to your cash either. A smaller device called a refractometer will run you up a few hundred dollars. Even then you’ll still have to run numerous tests to find out what yields the most caffeine.

If you’re not into doling out time and money the complicated way, there is a much simpler alternative to getting more caffeine: picking the right method of measuring and brewing your coffee.

How the Beans Effects Coffee Strength

Arabica coffee is the norm when buying coffee in the store or at your local coffee shop. Arabica is the most common type of coffee bean due to it’s great flavor profile. But there is a different type of coffee bean called Robusta that runs a little on the bitter side but packs much more caffeine than Arabica.

Coffee companies are starting to add small percentages of Robust to their blends to increase the caffeine content and promoting them as Extra Caffeinated Coffee.

How Measurement Effects Coffee Strength

Normally, when looking at a dark roast bean and light bean, you’d think that dark roast would have more caffeine since it is “bigger”. But this is not the case, the caffeine content stays almost the same during both roasting processes. The biggest difference is the taste, which of course is up to you.

However, the way you measure your coffee can make a difference between light roast and dark roast. If you measure them by weight, then the caffeine is the same between the two. But if you measure by volume, such as measuring by scoops, lighter roasts will have slightly more caffeine.

Since light beans are denser and smaller they fill up more of the scoop and because there’s more coffee being added it means that there’s more caffeine. But of course, the measurement is only one of the big determining factors of caffeine, the other being how you brew your coffee.

How The Brewing Method Effects Caffeine

Once you sort out how you measure the coffee, you’ll come to arguably the most important element of coffee and its caffeine content: the brewing method. While there are many opinions on which style makes the best tasting brew we’ll be looking for the method that makes the most potent coffee.

As we mentioned before, the process of brewing coffee is using hot water to extract the coffee’s chemical ingredients, and that the more compounds that are extracted the more caffeine we’ll get. However, there’s a big difference when considering how much caffeine there is when compared to the serving size of the coffee.

An espresso has around 64 mg of caffeine but is only a couple of ounces per serving, what if you prefer a strong 8-ounce cup of coffee? The answer is to look at the caffeine per ounce of coffee.

Espressos will usually have the most caffeine per ounce and are the “bang for your buck” option. But if you’re looking for a bigger cup with higher caffeine, percolator coffee offers around 33 mg of caffeine per ounce.

In the end, it’s up to you to choose if you want something fast but strong, or if you want to savor the experience while getting your caffeine fix.

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