How to make your coffee stronger

Highly caffeinated people know that a strong cup of coffee is hard to beat. But sometimes, it can be even harder to make! If you ever feel like your brews are sliding into weak territory, read on to learn how to make strong coffee that packs a punch.

What is strong coffee?

Strong coffee is just what it sounds like: your regular cup of joe, but maybe if it packed on a few pounds of muscle. However, instead of hitting the gym and drinking protein shakes, all a cup of coffee needs to get stronger is a few more beans, a slight change in the brewing method, or a different roast.

Long espresso on a bar with a barista in the background
Switching to a brewing method like espresso will certainly do the trick, but we know that’s not an option for everyone at home.

Does strong coffee have more caffeine?

This is an interesting question, and we provide an in-depth answer for it in our post about coffee strength and caffeine. The short answer is that strong coffee and highly caffeinated coffee aren’t necessarily the same thing, but strong coffee does contain a higher proportion of bean to water, so it will usually contain more caffeine as well—assuming no change in volume.

So if you’re looking for a cup of coffee that keeps you perky and alert, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only does stronger coffee pack a stronger flavor, it also boosts your caffeine buzz.

How to make strong coffee

There are a handful of methods to make your coffee stronger, and we suggest three that you should try first:

  • increase the coffee-to-water ratio
  • change your brewing method
  • change your roast

Let’s go through each of these in a little more detail. As you’ll see, changing the brewing method, in particular, opens up a lot of possibilities.

Change the coffee-to-water ratio

The best method for making your coffee stronger, by definition, is changing the coffee-to-water ratio. In a typical cup of coffee, less than two per cent is dissolved coffee solids and more than 98 per cent is water. Simply put, if you want your cup to taste stronger, then you need to increase that percentage of coffee when you’re brewing your drink.

A ratio of one part coffee to 17 parts water (1:17), by weight, is considered average. To get this ratio for a 12-ounce cup of coffee, you might combine 20 grams of coffee with 340 grams of water. If you wanted to boost the strength, you could increase that ratio to 1:15. That would be almost 23 grams of coffee with the same amount of water.

Pour over coffee brewing on a scale next to a gooseneck kettle
A kitchen scale can help you get very precise with your ratio of coffee to water.

The fun thing about coffee is that it’s something you can keep trying out over and over again at home until you find the correct ratio for you and your taste buds.

Change the brewing method

The way you brew your coffee has a lot of impact on the overall taste, strength, and caffeine content. If your Keurig just isn’t cutting it or your coffee maker is on its last legs, think about switching to a different brewing device.

We find that French press, with its full immersion of beans and limited filtering of oils, can produce a very strong-tasting cup. Pour over coffee can as well, with a little practice.

Of course, it’s also important to decide which brew method suits your lifestyle. Some people aren’t fans of the patience that these methods require. If that’s the case for you, then you might want to just opt for a darker coffee roast—but we’ll get to that in a moment.

How to make strong French press coffee

Ah, the French press. A classic! To make strong coffee in this setup, all you need are some freshly ground beans, a kettle and your French press. Scoop in a generous amount of coffee into the bottom of the French press, then pour in hot water. Mix together the water and beans, and place the lid back on the press. Don’t press the plunger down. Wait close to five minutes for your brew to steep, then push the plunger down and enjoy your first pour.

Overhead view of French press coffee brewing
Immersing coffee grounds in hot water for several minutes, as you do with a French press, can product quite a strong cup.

Play with the size of your grind and the brew time, but never go over five minutes. Finer grounds will need less time, coarse grinds may need the maximum. But less water in relation to coffee is really the secret to stronger coffee here.

How to make strong pour over coffee

The pour over coffee method has been around for decades, but there’s a chance you’ve never used it before. All you need is your pour over coffee dripper, a filter, a gooseneck kettle and your coffee.

This is another recipe where freshly ground beans are best, but we won’t judge you if you scoop some grounds right out of the bag.

Heat the water, place the filter in the dripper, the coffee in the filter, and dampen the grounds. Once they’ve had a 30-second soak, you can slowly pour in your water. Do it in at least two stages, allowing the water level to drop to just above the bed of grounds each time before topping up.

Pour over coffee drips from a Hario V60 into a mug
Brewing methods like pour over that require a little technique can be used to strengthen your coffee.

Making the coffee stronger means increasing the coffee or reducing the water, but the trick here is you still want the coffee to remain in contact with the water for the same amount of time. Use a timer, pour as slowly as possible and stay in control.

How to make strong coffee in a drip coffee maker

Let’s talk about the drip coffee maker. It’s a standard in any home, and probably the easiest coffee making tool to use. You can even schedule it so your coffee can start brewing before you wake up. If you’re a drip coffee fan and don’t want to change your ways, there’s still a way to make your coffee stronger using this method.

All you have to do is bump up that coffee-to-water ratio a bit. Opt for a dark roast if it’s really the strong taste you’re after, and try a blend that has some Robusta beans mixed in if caffeine is a big priority.

How to double brew coffee

Double brew? More like double trouble! This is a tried-and-true way to get the most bang for your buck and the strongest coffee out there. It sounds just like what it is—a double brew of coffee. So brew your coffee just as you always do, then take that brewed coffee and PRETEND IT’S THE WATER for a second batch of coffee. It’s ultra-effective and ultra-caffeinated for all our sleepy friends out there. Some lighter roasts actually carry a lot of caffeine, so if you want a taste that’s strong while being ultra-caffeinated, this might just be your best bet.

A word of warning: Running coffee through a machine that is typically exposed only to water may not be good for the machine. If you use this method, do it sparingly and make sure to run clean water through your machine as a rinse after you’re done.

Change the roast

If the tips we’ve described above still haven’t got you the cup of coffee you’re seeking, it’s time to take a look at the roast. Many people equate a stronger taste with a more deeply roasted coffee bean, so you could choose a darker roast that tends to produce a deeper, richer flavor.

Dark roast coffee in a cooling tray at the roaster
If ‘strong’ to you means full, rich flavor, then perhaps a darker roast is all you need.

Best beans for strong coffee

While any good dark roast will do, if you’re really looking for a strong coffee then consider Death Wish Coffee. They claim to be the strongest in the world, although many upstart competitors would dispute that. Death Wish is probably the most well known strong coffee.

Death Wish beans are certified organic, mostly from India and Peru. They blend Robusta beans with Arabica for a little extra caffeine content, and have their dark-roasting process fine-tuned to produce the biggest possible kick.

Phew! We could use a cup or two of coffee now that we’ve been chatting about this for so long.

This is what we’ve learned here today:

  1. Increasing your coffee-to-water ratio by using extra grounds or double brewing is an A+ way to get a super strong cup of joe.
  2. If you don’t like your current brewing method, try a French press or pour over and practice tweaking the brewing variables to get your coffee tasting as strong as possible.
  3. Finally, look at the beans you’re using. Light roasts are a bit higher in caffeine but more delicate in flavor, so if you want to get that deep, roasty taste, it’s best to go dark or even ultra-dark the next time you’re in the grocery aisle or at your local coffee grinder.

It’s bean real! We hope this helps you on your journey to a more caffeinated tomorrow.