We all have our favourite blend of coffee beans and will always have a bag in the cupboard for our morning brews, but coffee lovers also like to experiment from time to time – a different blend, a darker roast, single origin or organic. It’s an on-going search for a new flavour profile, a richer crema, a longer finish, more or less bitterness, more cocoa notes and so on.
But regardless of the blend there’s one thing that most of us will always be trying to achieve and that’s intensity of flavour. We want our coffee strong!
So how do you make a strong coffee?
There’s been a lot written about using coffee beans with a darker roast in order to get a stronger coffee but we think you should be able to make a strong coffee regardless of the roast. After all, what if you enjoy beans with a lighter roast? Does that mean you can’t have a strong coffee? Of course not!
Here are our top tips for making a stronger coffee:
- The first and most obvious thing to do to get a stronger coffee is to increase the amount of grind you use for a given amount of water. Or, looking at it from the opposite direction, use less water for a given amount of coffee grind. This applies regardless of the brewing equipment you are using. Just like Vegemite toast, the more you use the stronger the taste will be.
- Use a fresh grind. It’s said that up to 50% of the flavours dissipate from coffee within 15 minutes of doing the grind. We’re not sure how accurate these figures are, but the grind definitely loses flavour the longer it is left exposed to air. It’s easy to use a fresh grind if you do your own grinding at home, but even if you buy ground coffee beans (which are vacuum sealed) just make sure that you reseal the bag tightly as soon as possible after use.
- Experiment with the amount of time you let the coffee brew (or bloom to use the technical term). The brew time will vary somewhat depending on the equipment you are using, but 20 seconds from the time of adding the water to the grind is probably the minimum brew time. You can try 30 secs, 40 secs or even longer. The combination of hot water (hot, not boiling) and pressure (depending on the equipment) is what extracts the flavour filled oils from the coffee grind and the more oils you can extract the stronger the final taste will be.
- Try a finer grind setting. If you are grinding your coffee at home you probably don’t adjust the grind level very often, but you may be surprised at the difference you find with a finer grind. Extracting the flavour compounds from a coarse grind (larger bits of coffee bean) is more difficult than from a finer grind. Again, you need to consider the equipment you are using. If you buy your coffee beans ground try requesting a finer grind.
These four variables will have the biggest impact on the intensity of flavour you get from your coffee but there is one important thing to remember – a longer extraction time will increase flavours you get from your coffee beans, but it will also increase the bitterness you get. This might suit your tastes, but too much astringency and bitterness can detract from the enjoyment of the coffee.
Try adjusting each of these four variables to find the right mix for your taste. Less grind but a longer brewing time. More grind and a shorter brew time. A slightly coarser grind with a medium brew time.
Again, this is part of the enjoyment of coffee. The eternal quest for the perfect cuppa!