For many of us, coffee is a delicious pick-me-up for drowsy mornings and the key to a productive day. Some days, you may feel like you need a stronger pick-me-up than usual. In this post, we’ll talk about how to get the most caffeine out of coffee.
Most people consider strong coffee and high caffeine coffee to be the same thing. However, coffee strength usually means intensity in taste, which is why dark roast coffee is considered to be “strong”. However, dark roast doesn’t necessarily have more caffeine than other roast levels.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about how to maximize the caffeine content in your cup of coffee.
How to increase coffee caffeine extraction
Choose the right kind of coffee beans
Altitude affects caffeine levels
Interestingly enough, coffee beans grown at lower altitudes tend to have slightly higher caffeine levels than coffee beans grown at higher altitudes.
From an evolutionary perspective, caffeine is a natural insect repellant. There are more insects at lower altitudes than at higher altitudes, so coffees that have been growing at lower altitudes for a long time have adapted to contain higher caffeine levels.
To you and I, the difference in caffeine may seem marginal, but if you’re looking to eke out every last milligram, consider low altitude coffee beans.
The type of coffee bean
The two most common types of coffee beans are arabica and robusta. Robusta beans have more caffeine than arabica, but are more bitter. If you want all the caffeine you can get, opt for robusta beans or blends that have a higher proportion of robusta beans.
Many coffee roasters have special blends that have a huge amount of caffeine. One of the most popular ones is Death Wish Coffee, which you can learn more about here.
Grind on the finer size
Another way to increase how much caffeine is absorbed into your coffee is to use a fine grind size. Grinding affects the surface area of coffee grounds. The finer the grind, the more surface area there is, and the more water molecules can interact with the grounds.
However, you can’t just use a superfine grind for every brew method! Brewing methods have a range of grind sizes you must use with them. For example, pour over coffee requires a fine-medium grind size. There’s a little bit of range here, so you can try grinding a little bit finer than recommended.
This will make your coffee stronger and extract a little more caffeine.
Use a higher ratio
More coffee grounds means more caffeine, so you can also increase the amount of ground coffee you add to brew your cup of coffee.
A standard ratio for most brews is 1:15, or one gram of coffee for every gram of coffee.
Instead of 1:15, try brewing with 1:12, but instead of decreasing the amount of coffee, keep the volume of water the same.
To brew 180 ml of coffee using the 1:15 ratio, you need 12 grams of coffee.
To brew 180 ml of coffee using the 1:12 ratio, you need 15 grams of coffee.
The coffee will taste much stronger, but you can always dilute it with some water to mellow down the taste.
Extend brew time
Since caffeine is extracted when water comes into contact with the coffee grounds, it follows that brewing for as long as possible would extract some more caffeine.
Be careful, though, as this is a double-edged sword. Over-extracted coffee tends to be very acidic and unpleasant!
Use a higher-caffeine brewing method
You can also change the brewing method to get more caffeine out of your coffee.
Turkish coffee uses a superfine ground size and it is an immersion brewing method, meaning all the water is in contact with all the coffee throughout the brewing process.
Turkish coffee is very strong, so you may need to add some spices or sweeteners to make it palatable.
Espresso uses a very fine ground size and utilizes high pressure to brew a shot of espresso coffee. By ratio, espresso has a lot more caffeine than any other preparation. One 2-ounce shot of espresso contains almost half the caffeine of an entire 8 ounce cup of coffee.
Just pour three shots into your latte and get a massive pick-me-up.
Pour over contains around 160mg of caffeine per cup of coffee. Water is in contact with the coffee grounds for a decent amount of time. You can try to increase caffeine extraction by pouring very slowly.
In an Aeropress, the grounds are quite fine, but the water is in contact with them for a very small amount of time. Still, because of the pressure, there’s a decent bit of caffeine extraction, though not as much as pour over or espresso.
French press contains comparatively less caffeine than other brew methods because the coffee ground size is quite coarse. Even though you’re steeping the coffee for 4 minutes, the large ground size does not allow for quite as much extraction.
The ballpark amount of caffeine from one coffee to the next is in a standard range, but you can use the tips and tricks we’ve listed here to try and get the most caffeine out of your coffee.
Whether you like a lighter roast, a medium roast, or a dark roast, these tips are sure to perk up your mornings.