There are many brands that claim to be the strongest coffee in the world. In this post, you'll learn about 2 types of strong coffee, 4 factors, 4 of the strongest coffee brands, the best roast for strong coffee, and tips for brewing strong coffee.
We'll also cover how to weaken strong coffee and how to make 10x strength Death Wish coffee (interesting, but not recommended).
The strongest coffee in the world is from the Robusta species. It is mostly produced in Africa, India, and Brazil. Cold brew coffee has the highest amount of caffeine per serving, while espresso has the highest per ounce. Special blends of high-caffeine coffees have also been created.
As you will see, this claim is subjective, depending on how you measure coffee strength.
What is Strong Coffee? 2 Types
Coffee is rated as strong by either caffeine levels or flavor.
- Stronger Flavor: Coffee can have stronger flavor by adjusting the grind, roast, brew method, or water to grounds ratio. To really make a strong coffee, you can tweak all four of these factors.
- More Caffeine: Coffee with high caffeine content will feel stronger and this is a metric many people use.
Stronger Flavor vs. More Caffeine: Some people will say that strong coffee is when it has a bold and bitter flavor – or is thick and flavorful. Others will say that it is when there is a lot of caffeine.
I think that strong coffee is best gauged as a combination of both flavor and high caffeine.
Strong coffee has got nicknames such as “rocket fuel” and “mud” as well. Here are other words to describe strong coffee.
4 Factors in Strong Coffee
The strength of the coffee does not directly refer to the amount of caffeine in the coffee. Coffee strength refers to the coffee parts that aren't the water once it is brewed or the ratio of coffee to water.
The following things can affect the coffee's strength:
- The brewing method that is used (espresso, cold brew, drip)
- Coffee ground (fine or coarse/fresh or pre-ground)
- Coffee bean species (Robusta or Arabica)
- Steep time (seconds or hours)
1. Brew and Strength
An Italian research team did an excellent study using Arabica coffee and found that cold brew coffee has a lower strength profile but the highest caffeine content per serving size.
This is due to the amount of time the coffee is steeped and the temperature it is steeped at. Therefore cold brew coffee is often diluted with water or milk.
The amount of coffee you are brewing also affects the strength and caffeine levels of the coffee. Some coffee brews suggest brewing two tablespoons of coffee per 6 oz. of water.
If you add more coffee but don't add more water, your coffee will be stronger in thickness, taste, and caffeine.
2. Grind and Strength
Finer grinds, such as what is used in espresso machines, will create a stronger coffee and have an increased flavor per ounce. This is due to the surface area available and the decreased brew time.
Coarser grinds, like what is used in drip coffee and cold brews, will not have as strong of a flavor, but they will have more caffeine per ounce. The longer the brew time, the coarser the grind should be to help with achieving ultimate caffeine and flavor extraction.
The time between the coffee being ground and brewed can also affect the strength and caffeine content. If you buy your coffee pre-ground, it will be slightly weaker than coffee that is freshly ground.
Learn more about the best coffee makers with built in grinders – including an espresso maker.
3. Beans and Strength
The coffee beans will also have different levels of caffeine.
Robusta beans are also known for a stronger flavor than Arabica beans. Arabica beans are used in the majority of coffees in coffee houses and at home because of their flavor profile.
Robusta Bean Features
- Robusta beans have the highest caffeine level at 2.9 mg per bean. This is about 2.2 to 2.7% caffeine by weight.
- Cheaper to produce
- Bitter and sometimes harsh taste
- Low acidity
- Grainy and nutty tones
- Faster grow times, yielding more fruit
Arabica Bean Features
- Arabica coffee beans have 1.9 mg of caffeine per bean. This is about 1.2 to 1.5% caffeine by weight.
- More expensive to produce
- Sweet and airy taste
- High acidity
- Fruity tones
- Slower grow times with less fruit
4. Roast and Strength
How your beans are roasted will affect the strength of your coffee – both with caffeine levels and overall coffee strength. Dark roasts tend to taste stronger because the longer the beans are roasted, the more the flavor changes.
How Roast Affects Strength: The differences between roasts are on an inverse sliding scale. Generally speaking, the darker the roast, the stronger the flavor and the lower the caffeine.
- Light roast: Higher caffeine content and weaker flavor. For the highest caffeine content, you might consider white coffee.
- Dark roast: Lower caffeine content and stronger flavor.
Of course, there are many variables affecting this. For the above to be true, you would have to be comparing the same variety and brewing it the same way. Some varieties and brew methods will produce a much higher caffeine content. And coffee strength is directly related to brew method.
Some coffee drinkers feel that coffee roast doesn't affect the strength and caffeine content of the coffee. And while palates are different, most coffee drinkers will agree that dark roast coffee tastes stronger than light roast.
To be able to notice the variance in coffee strength, you should consider tasting it black. Sugar and cream will soften the flavor and might make it hard – even impossible – to notice any difference between different roasts.
You can use these tips to choose the best roast and brew method for the day. Start the day with higher caffeine and later in the day, you might choose a weaker coffee so you won't be too wired when it's time to go to bed.
Learn more about the 5 types of coffee roasts.
Learn more about how to make strong coffee.
4 Brands that Make the Strongest Coffee in the World
While coffee strength doesn't always correlate to the caffeine content, stronger coffees can often make people think that they have more caffeine.
The Robusta bean makes the strongest coffee and has the highest caffeine content. It's often used in cheaper coffees; however, the market for blending high-caffeine coffee has grown significantly.
Even though the Robusta bean gets a bad rap for being bitter, many brands have produced Robusta coffees that have a smooth flavor profile, especially when blended with an Arabica bean.
Coffees With the Highest Caffeine: Some brands with the strongest coffee are Death Wish, Biohazard, Black Rifle Coffee, and Devil Mountain Coffee.
They also have some of the world's highest caffeine contents, and some claim to be the world's strongest coffee.
Something to note about the stated caffeine levels: they depend on how you actually grind and brew the coffee. If you add more coffee than usual, of course it will be stronger. You can do that with your regular coffee. And you can grind your daily coffee beans finer to increase the strength. That being said, the following brands are stronger – but maybe not that much stronger as compared to other coffees and brands.
Okay, now lets get to the good stuff:
1. Death Wish Coffee
Death Wish Coffee is one of the most popular high-caffeine content coffees, around 728 mg per serving. It is made with a blend of arabica and Robusta beans from India and Peru.
It has a chocolatey flavor and is low in acidity. They state that there is double the amount of caffeine in a coffee cup, and studies have shown that there is some more than that.
Death Wish Coffee is USDA certified organic and uses fair-trade beans.
2. Biohazard Coffee
Biohazard Coffee is another one of the strongest coffees in the world. While third parties do reports of caffeine levels for Death Wish and Devil Mountain coffees, Biohazard's website states that it has 928 mg of caffeine per serving.
Biohazard Coffee is a lightly roasted Robusta coffee. They have only one source for their beans, but don't disclose the location. It comes in a one or 5-pound bag in whole beans or ground coffee, and the company is in the process of making K-cups.
3. Black Rifle Coffee
Black Rifle Coffee CAF 2X Caffeine lives up to its name because it is very strong.
The coffee is made of 100% Excelso grade beans. Excelso beans are a grade of Colombian Arabica coffee.
Their beans are medium roasted and have double the standard caffeine levels.
4. Devil Mountain Coffee
Devil Mountain Coffee boasts of being the strongest coffee in the world. The Black Label has 1,555 mg of caffeine per 12 oz cup, which is more than three times the FDA's recommended daily amount.
They have a few different coffee types, including the Inferno Bold, their cold brew, and several holiday blends.
All of their coffee is USDA certified organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO. It is grown in California with fair trade organic beans. They are also known to not have the bitter flavor that is often associated with Robusta beans.
Countries That Produce the Strongest Coffee
The coffee plant is a beautiful plant that grows fruit. Inside the fruit is the seed, or the bean as we know it. The beans are extracted and roasted, and then ground up to create coffee. The National Coffee Association (NCA) has an excellent guide on how coffee is cultivated.
When growing coffee, the climate and soil content can have an enormous effect on the coffee's flavor, strength, and caffeine content. This combination of factors is known as coffee terroir.
Around the world, coffee is grown in Africa, Latin America, Indonesia, India, and the United States. The NCA also has a guide on where different types of coffee are grown around the world.
Robusta beans are mostly grown in Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, and India. And they are shipped around the world and sold under the brands above, as well as:
- Lavazza, which uses a blend of 40% Robusta and 60% Arabica
- Super Strong Coffee by Cannonball Coffee uses a full medium roast Robusta blend
- Dalat Highlands Robusta Whole Bean Coffee is a 100% Robusta Italian blend
Best Roast for the Strongest Coffee
Since coffee strength is measured by how much of the coffee in your cup isn't water, based on appearance, many people think darker roasts would create stronger coffees with higher caffeine content.
The roast of the coffee depends on how long the beans are roasted for. Darker roasts are roasted longer and end up being lighter in volume than a light roast is. Light and medium roast coffees don't have as strong of a flavor profile. Light roast coffees also tend to taste closer to their fruit.
Dark roasted coffees tend to have the strongest flavor profile. A dark roasted Robusta coffee would be the strongest. Here's a great guide on the descriptions of the roast flavors.
If you find that a specific coffee is too strong for you, you can add some milk and sugar to balance out the flavor to your preference.
Which Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?
Overall, to find out which coffee has the most caffeine, you will have to consider the bean, roast, and brew.
Keeping a combination of the three in mind, the coffee with the most caffeine per serving size would be a cold brew Robusta coffee with a fine, fresh grind.
- Beans: Out of the two common species of coffee beans, Robusta has more caffeine than Arabica. Some types of Robusta beans contain more than double the amount of caffeine an Arabica bean would have. See 4 Factors to Strong Coffee (at first of post).
- Brews: According to brews, espresso has the highest caffeine content per ounce at around 30-50mg. However, per serving size, cold brew coffee has the highest caffeine content, close to 300 mg per serving if undiluted. Having an espresso may feel like there is more caffeine in it than drinking a cup of coffee because you drink it in a shorter time than you would a cup of coffee. You will feel the caffeine working more quickly and as a jolt with espresso than you would with a cup of coffee or a cold brew.
- Roasts: While some caffeine is lost during the roasting process, there isn't a huge difference in caffeine content between light and dark roasts if you measure by weight. However, if you measure by volume, light roasts have the highest caffeine content. Light and medium roasts are often used in breakfast blends because of their caffeine content. Some great breakfast blends are from McCafe, Gevalia, and Green Mountain.
3 Ways to Weaken Strong Coffee
Sometimes you may accidentally add too much coffee grinds into your brewer, and your coffee may not come out to your liking. Or, you could have been adventurous and tried a new type of coffee and discovered that it was too strong.
There are several different ways you can modify a cup of coffee to change the flavor profile.
1. Add Water
Since coffee strength is the amount of coffee to water, one way to change the strength of the coffee is to dilute it. Diluting the coffee will not change the flavor of it, but it will also dilute the caffeine in the coffee.
Another way to add water to your coffee to dilute it is if you could go for an iced coffee, add ice to the coffee. The temperature of the ice and the extra water will make the bitterness and flavor more bearable.
2. Add Sugar or a Sweetener
If the flavor of your coffee is too strong, adding sugar or a sugar substitute is a great idea to cut the bitterness from the coffee.
Add the sweetener gradually and taste your coffee to make sure it gets to the desired taste. There's not much you can do to fix the coffee once you add too much of a sweetener.
Some great sweeteners for coffee are:
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- Splenda or Equal
- Or one of these natural sugar alternatives
3. Add Milk
Milk and other products like milk are a great way to also dilute the coffee to balance the flavor profile. It also adds some more texture and a different flavor to your coffee.
Creating a macchiato or a latte is another great way to get a more desired flavor.
There are many different types of milk available to use in your coffee, including:
- Dairy milk, half and half, and creamer
- Nut milk such as almond and cashew
- Soy milk
- Oat milk
- Rice milk
- Hemp milk
Some other tips for making sure you always have the perfect flavor for your coffee are:
- Use the correct brewing temperature for the type of coffee you're making
- Use bottled or distilled water, especially if you live in an area with hard water
- Make sure to clean out your machine after every use
- Don't let your coffee sit. Drink it immediately, and don't reheat it in the microwave
5 Tips for Strong Coffee
Ready to make your own strong coffee? Here are some tips via Death Wish:
- Use fresh coffee beans: And store them in an airtight container. Learn more about how to store coffee.
- Grind the beans yourself: The finer grind the stronger your coffee will be. This will mean a little sediment at the bottom of your cup – but this is a small price to pay for a solid cup of coffee. You can use a coffee grinder or grind beans without one. Either way, your coffee will be better if you grind at at home.
- Use correct brewing ratios: The higher coffee to water ratio, the stronger your coffee will be. Death Wish recommends a 1:10 ratio. This means 1 ounce of coffee to 10 ounces of water.
- Use the correct brew methods: There are many ways to make a good cup of coffee. Some methods like Chemex (pour over) give lots of control to the variables while others are more automatic.
- Use strong coffee beans: Choose the best beans from our list above for the strongest cup of coffee. These come roasted and many are powerful blends for the best mix of flavor and strength.
See these tips in the following video:
10X Brewed Deathwish Coffee
You would get the following viscous liquid by Laplanet Arts.
How much caffeine is too much? The Food and Drug Administration recommends that you consume a daily maximum of 400 mg of caffeine. Additionally, since studies have shown varying caffeine consumption results during pregnancy, March of Dimes recommends you only drink a daily maximum of 200 mg of caffeine. Of course, many pregnant mothers choose to avoid caffeine altogether.
Everyone has different caffeine tolerances and sensitivities. Before trying any of the strong coffees mentioned, monitor the amount of caffeine you are used to and how it makes you feel.
If you feel you have had too much caffeine, you should contact your doctor. You can also drink water, replenish your electrolytes, and avoid caffeine from any source for 3-6 hours.
Time for a Coffee
Many factors can be attributed to making coffee the strongest coffee in the world. Some brands such as Death Wish and Devil Mountain Coffee have traveled the world and found the best beans and roasted them to have the highest caffeine and flavor profile, all while balancing out their flavors and keeping them from being too bitter.
Have a favorite brand to add? Let me know in the comments!
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer on EnjoyJava! – and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world. He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and photographer at Click Like This. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.