I know some of you might be in a bit of a rush and don’t have time to read the entire article. We recommend Death Wish Coffee as the best strong coffee.
Caffeine is an important part of a lot of peoples morning ritual. It gives you that little boost you need to fuel you on your way to work. It can heighten the senses and make you more alert.
How much caffeine is too much though? That is a question some of these coffee brands have thrown out the window. To them, there isn’t such a thing as too much.
We’ve found the five best strong coffees on the market today. First we’ll cover what a ‘strong’ coffee actually means, and how to get the strongest brew from your beans.
These are the 5 products we’ll be reviewing:
- What Do We Mean By Strength?
- The Roast Level Does NOT Indicate Caffeine Strength
- The Roast Type DOES Dictate Flavour
- The Species Of Plant Makes A Difference
- Grind Size Affects Strength Too
- Coffee To Water Ratio
- Don’t Forget The Recommended Daily Dosage
- Strong Coffee Brands
- The Best Strong Coffee – Our Reviews
What Do We Mean By Strength?
Firstly, we need to get our metrics sorted. We could class a strong coffee as either high in caffeine, or as a strong, rich and bold flavour which depends on the roast.
We’ll cover both versions of ‘strength’ and how they are affected.
The Roast Level Does NOT Indicate Caffeine Strength
There is a misconception that floats around the coffee world, which is that the higher the roast the stronger the caffeine content. This is not true, and it’s actually the opposite, depending on your measurement.
You see, dark roast coffee beans are less dense than a light roast as more of their moisture is evaporated during the roasting process. So if you take a scoop of each roast, you’re going to have the same amount of beans in each scoop, and so there’s going to be more caffeine in the light roast scoop because they’re more dense.
If you measure by weight say you want 100 grams it’s going to take more dark roast beans to make up the weight than light roast beans because they’re individually lighter. The caffeine content in each roast is about the same, and so you’re going to have more caffeine in the dark roast pile because there are more beans.
Basically all you need to know is that unlike the myth, a dark roast doesn’t contain more caffeine than a light roast. It depends on your measurement.
The Roast Type DOES Dictate Flavour
Although the roast level doesn’t really change the caffeine content, it creates all those different flavours that come through into our cup. Before being roasted, those green coffee berries are tasteless and boring and wouldn’t brew a good cuppa.
Coffee beans with a beautiful fruity or floral flavour profile are ideal for light roasts. The aim is to keep all those earthy flavours to make a bright and tangy cup.
If you roast the beans for a longer period of time to make a dark roast, then the sugars inside the bean start to caramelise. You start getting those deeper flavours of chocolate and nuts and the bean turns darker in colour.
Depending on what flavours you prefer, and what you want out of your cuppa, choose carefully what type of roast you want. The majority of the time though, if you see a coffee advertising itself as ‘strong’, it’s going to be a dark roast.
The Species Of Plant Makes A Difference
There are two main species of coffee, Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora (or Robusta). On average Robusta beans contain 2.1% of caffeine whereas Arabica contains 1.2%.
With caffeine being more bitter in flavour, it’s the Arabica that has the better flavour profile.
But, for a dark roast or a coffee with a high caffeine content, Robusta is going to be a good choice.
With that being said, there are different types of Arabica plants which contain different levels of caffeine. It has a lot to do with soil composition, altitude, and growth duration.
This is why you’ll often get blends of the two for high caffeine coffee brands. They take the flavours from the Arabica plants and the caffeine content from the Robusta and blend them to make a happy medium.
Grind Size Affects Strength Too
The finer the grind, the more flavour compounds (and therefore caffeine) are exposed to the extraction process. The grind size is a simple way to determine the strength of your coffee, but you have to be careful.
If you use a brewing method like a french press for example which takes a while to extract a brew, then you’re going to over extract your coffee and make it too bitter. This is because there is a large surface area of coffee and therefore lots of flavour. Plus, the fine grounds are going to escape through the plunger into the brewed coffee, not what you want! A french press is better suited for a medium or coarse grind.
Ideally you want to be using a fine grind with an espresso. It’s a very quick extraction time and so even with a large surface area the coffee doesn’t become over extracted.
Coffee To Water Ratio
There’s a general guide that you may have heard before called the ‘Golden Ratio’ which is one to two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water.
This is just a guideline and not a rule, so experiment with the ratio and figure out how to get the right strength for you. Obviously the more coffee you add to the water the stronger the brew is going to be. Be careful though, as just adding loads of coffee to a small amount of water isn’t going to necessarily make a nice cuppa.
If you want a stronger than normal coffee, try using beans that naturally have a higher caffeine content, and stick with the recommended ratio for the brewing process.
Don’t Forget The Recommended Daily Dosage
Let’s not forget that caffeine is good for us but only in moderation. It’s a drug at the end of the day and it should be treated as such.
Happybarista recommends the same dosage as what the health authorities do. That’s 400mg a day, and no more than a 200mg dosage in one sitting.
Therefore, we recommend that these coffees should only be tried by people who have a high caffeine tolerance and drink it on the regular. Also people with heart or sleep problems should probably avoid these high caffeine coffees, as they could bring more harm than good.
Strong Coffee Brands
So basically, labelling a coffee as ‘strong’ can mean different things, and it’s also hard to define what it actually is.
Dark coffee tends to be lower in caffeine than light roasts, but it tastes much more rich, bold and full bodied. Therefore having a ‘strong’ and deep flavour profile.
A light roast tends to have those lighter, more fruity flavours, but tends to have a stronger caffeine content per bean.
Some coffee brands focus on the caffeine content of their coffee, so if you want that extra boost in the morning then check out the following brands. Be warned though, they’re not for the faint hearted.
The Best Strong Coffee – Our Reviews
If a whole bean option is available then we’ve included a link to them at the bottom of each review. Grinding your own beans is the biggest difference you can make to the freshness and quality of your coffee.
- Medium to dark roast
- Fine grind
- 50% stronger than regular coffee
- Pretty smooth
- Low in bitterness
Shock coffee has a pretty impressive resume. They’ve been featured on many TV programs like CNBC, The Today Show and Food Network, so it must be popular for a reason. They claim to have the perfect balance between taste and caffeine which their competitors don’t, and that’s why they’re the favourite.
It’s true that the taste of this coffee is smooth and certainly seems like they haven’t taken any shortcuts. It’s low in bitterness and definitely packs a punch. They use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans for that balance between high quality flavours and higher caffeine content.
Shock coffee advertises that they use 100% natural caffeine and don’t add anything artificial. They achieve their high caffeine content by picking Arabica and Robusta beans that are already naturally high in caffeine. Anything with no artificial ingredients gets a plus from us.
Shock coffee brings together advanced roasting systems, a close relationship with the farmers that grow their coffee and attentive taste testing to produce a very strong and flavourful cup. Certainly worth a try.
- Dark roast
- Medium/fine grind
- 928mg of caffeine per 12oz serving
- Smooth finish
- Good flavour considering a pure Robusta blend
Biohazard has an incredibly high caffeine content and is not for the average joe (get it?). In one 12oz cup there’s enough caffeine to see you though until next week, maybe even next month.
In all seriousness, this is a coffee with a very high caffeine content. Many people drink this who work through the night and find it works wonders to keep them alert and focused.
As far as taste goes, it’s not the most flavourful cup you’ll ever have. Firstly, its Robusta which we know doesn’t have as large a flavour profile as Arabica. Secondly, all that caffeine creates a slight bitter tinge. It’s not super bitter. For example if you’re a fan of dark roasts that tend to leave that bitter aftertaste, then you’ll be fine with this.
I love that it’s organic as I know that nothing artificial or synthetic has been left behind in the process.
One thing to mention is that Biohazard advertises a 16 ounce bag of coffee, but that seems to include the weight of the bag too, not just the product.
- Dark roast
- Fine grind
- Around 728mg of caffeine per 12oz serving
- Subtle cherry and chocolate notes
- Fair Trade certified
Death Wish Coffee is a popular brand name when it comes to strong coffee. It’s rise to fame came from when it won a competition between small businesses throughout the US. The prize was a free ad in the 2016 Super Bowl, and unsurprisingly this increased popularity significantly.
It has a fantastic rating across the web, with over 90% of verified customers giving it a 4 star review or higher. With its incredibly high caffeine content, it certainly gets you moving on a morning, but leaves out that jitteriness of being over caffeinated. The fact it’s organic means the coffee is easier on your stomach too.
Death Wish Coffee don’t disclose what coffee beans they use to achieve their blend, however we know that they’re sourced from India and Peru. Unlike a couple of super strong coffees, this is very palatable. It leaves out the bitterness, keeps it smooth and doesn’t taste like you’re drinking rocket fuel.
- Dark roast
- Fine grind
- 1,555mg of caffeine per 12oz serving
- Very rich flavour
Devil Mountain will blow your socks off. Either that, or you’ll put holes in your socks due to how fast you’re going to be walking after one cup. It has a ridiculous amount of caffeine in it. It’s over six times the caffeine you find in your average 12oz cuppa joe. Which means it’s well over the amount of caffeine that’s recommended per day. I think it takes the title as the strongest coffee brand in the world.
So, try if you must but be cautious. This coffee packs a punch that could be dangerous to some people. Anyone with a pre-existing heart condition or trouble sleeping should steer well clear from this brand.
If you are still thinking of trying it, you’ll be surprised to hear that it isn’t too bitter. It also has a smooth finish, gluten free, non GMO and organic. Overall a good drink with a strong coffee taste, but I just can’t get over how much caffeine is in this coffee.
The label says “so powerful, it’s a sin”, and i’d say it isn’t far off.
- Medium-dark roast
- Medium grind size
- 660mg of caffeine per 12oz serving
- Full of flavour
- Fair Trade certified
Our final strongest coffee is the Valhalla Java, which is also a product from Death Wish Coffee. The fact that this coffee has been blessed by the viking god Odin tells us that this coffee is to be undisputed.
It’s strong in caffeine, but not ‘blow your socks off’ kind of strong. It’ll give you a good buzz, much more than a regular brew, but is not on the level of Biohazard. Which isn’t a bad thing.
This is the type of strong coffee you’re more likely to drink often if you already have a strong caffeine tolerance. It’s got a beautiful, rich aroma that will waken up the senses before you’ve even had a sip.
It has a more present sweetness to it, with notes of chocolate and molasses. A smooth, rich flavour that’ll give you a bigger kick to get you through the night shift or on your way to work.
There are a lot of strong coffees on this list, and if all you’re after is a very high caffeine content then you should go for the Devil Mountain Coffee, but be careful.
Not only does it have almost twice as much caffeine as the daily recommended dosage, it also has a subtle sweetness and a complex flavour profile. Because it has this balance, Death Wish Coffee gets my number one spot.
Let us know which ones you went for in the comments!