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Well, well, well. So, you just ordered a double espresso. But wait, it doesn’t pick you up as you expected. You ask the barista: “Is this decaf? Can I have some very high caffeine coffee?”
Perhaps we’ve all been there, needing an extra dose of caffeine and wondering what went wrong with our usual morning, midday or afternoon drink. The answer is simple: the variables. We need to take in consideration some other factors that determine the amount of caffeine that’s in your coffee. And yes, we’ll also crown the world’s strongest coffee.
One thing I can promise you, as we talk about high caffeine coffee, it’ll be “eye-opening”.
Black Label wins. The numbers are self-explanatory. Most claim to be the strongest, but they, can really back up the claim. That doesn’t take away of how strong the other ones are. All exceed the average by twice as much. They apparently use high caffeine Arabica beans, that even roasted dark, still tastes smooth and bold.
To talk clearly about “strong coffee”, or specifically “high caffeine coffee”, we need to understand both expressions. Strongest in the world in taste or caffeine content?
Most people associate “strong” with “bold”. Think of French roast. That is a very bold blend! Technically, burnt coffee. After consuming a super large cup, they feel ready to seize the day. But people at the other coffee shop, the one known for their light roast, feel as awake and pumped up as they do.
Let me tell you a little industry secret. Lighter roasted coffee has more caffeine than darker roasted coffee.
Nevertheless, let me tell you another one. It’s not always so. There’s no contradiction. Coffee variety, extraction method, grind size and the quantity you consume, play a big role in coffee strength.
There’s also the psychological aspect of it. I have friends tell me they wake up to a large cup of decaf. People’s habits involve routines that translate into starting their day on the right foot. Skip your coffee in the morning, and it’s already a bad day. We also get used to a particular profile and any deviation from it, throws us back. My decaf friends, perhaps, wake up because of the sugar they dump in their cup. Most decaf brands are dark, so that plays into the whole ritual.
As we take a look at the coffee industry, we conclude that of the two main coffee plant varieties, Coffea arabica is the most consumed and desired. Some popular coffees such as Colombian, Brazil, Kona, Mocha Java, etc, belong to this plant variant. It’s smooth, acidic, and flavorful.
On the other hand, Coffea canephora, (aka Robusta) doesn’t have the reputation Arabica has. Normally, this variety is blended with Arabica to kick it up a notch because it contains more caffeine. It’s less popular too because of its bitterness, 50 percent less sweet than Arabica. (We love sweet!) A very common espresso coffee blend is 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta. Proportions vary as roasters try to accommodate everyone. I know a roaster who produces a blend for the 20 regions of Italy.
If our only purpose is to find the highest concentration of caffeine, Robusta wins.
Coffee making is simple, although sometimes it can be explained with so much science that it scares people away. All you need is hot water and coffee.
The French press method is the way to go if you want to drink one of the world’s strongest coffees. By doing so, you are pouring boiling water over coffee grounds. The mesh plunger filters them out. Not only will you extract a considerable amount of caffeine, but other soluble components.
Let’s be clear, espresso has more caffeine per fluid unit. But a serving of French press coffee of 8 ounces would hit you with 107 mg of caffeine. One shot of espresso is just 1.5 oz, yielding 77 mg of caffeine.
Drip coffee can also yield a decent amount of caffeine. If you adjust your water to coffee ratio, perhaps 1 oz of coffee per 6 oz of water, you’ll end with a strong cup of coffee. Or you can alter the ratio, up or down.
There’s also Turkish style coffee. It’s literally pulverized coffee. It’s prepared by cooking the coffee until boiling water foams up the concoction and raises to the top of the pot. Then it’s poured in a cup, without filtering. You would think this is the most caffeine-extracting method and yet, it only yields 25.5 mg per fluid ounce.
Roast levels vary for many reasons. Recipe, traditions and yielding more weight, impact what roasters do. Green coffee as you roast it, loses density. Because of this, notice darker blends costs more. That means you’ll need more beans to yield a pound of coffee.
However, this process does not concentrate, or intensify, the caffeine content. It actually cooks it away. Lighter roasted coffee has more caffeine than its darker counterpart because it cooks for a shorter amount of time. This way it retains more caffeine.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Caffeine breaks down at 460.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Most popular roasts don’t go over 455 degrees Fahrenheit. So, depending on the variety you’re comparing, the difference in caffeine content between light and dark is going to be small. Roasting times differ by only a few seconds. Bean size, plays into the comparison also.
That said, overall, as a rule of thumb, the lighter roast has more caffeine when weight by volume. “My heart” tells me all the time!
Don’t forget, though, the higher natural caffeine concentration is in the Robusta plant, by twice as much.
On the other hand, grind size plays a more significant role in yielding a higher caffeine content. How so?
The grind size, how fine or coarse the coffee grounds are, will impact the size of your dose. Finely ground, coffee will pack a decent amount of caffeine into a 21 g portafilter. You’ll fit more. That translates to a little more than 160 mg of caffeine. You could also prepare a dose in the same portafilter with coarser coffee and yield less caffeine, and a weaker tasting beverage.
The contact time between the water and the coffee, plays a big role in how strong your coffee will taste. That is why you see baristas timing their shots. If the contact time exceeds 27 to 31 seconds, you’ll taste the bitterness and actually be extracting more caffeine.
The same is true of coffee ground for French press. It’s coarser. Yet, if you alter that, use very fine espresso this way, your caffeine extraction would be significant.
Drip coffee is not any different. In a coffee shop, the industrial drip coffee maker, has pulses, by-passes and drip modes that optimize contact time between coffee and water.
Research is split in many ways as to the benefits and health hazards of caffeine
Not everyone metabolizes it the same. Moderation!
With all that information, we are well-equipped to go in quest of the world’s strongest coffee. Don’t be surprise or afraid because of some of their names, such as Biohazard, Death Wish, Killer or Shock. Let’s see if they live up to their hype or if we survive.
Don’t let the name deceive you. This dark roasted coffee is organic, safe on the environment. When it comes to caffeine, it contains 928 mg per 12 oz cup. Nearly 5 times more than a regular 12 oz brewed at home.
This coffee is credited to be the strongest coffee in the world. If you are not used to drinking a lot of coffee, you should be careful. It’s not for “the faint of heart,” literally. The beans are blended Robusta beans assuring a heavy concentration of a bold taste and caffeine overdose. Ideal for students and first responders.
Let’s be clear. It’s not a biohazard coffee, it’s organic.
Don’t be too alarmed by the death wish implication. You can read many positive reviews of many satisfied customers. None of them claimed to be survivors. Lol. In fact, some people said they had stronger coffees.
It’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. This is usually what roasters do to balance taste and caffeine.
It’s not bitter, with hints of cherry and chocolate. They even offer to refund your order if not satisfied.
The beans are Fair Trade Organic. Compared to our previous review it has less caffeine. 708 mg per 12oz cup. One thing for sure you’ll’ get a kick after drinking it. Specially if you follow their recipe. They recommend you use 2.5 tbs per 6oz cup of water.
When I think read this label, the other popular “Black Label” comes to mind. Yet, the effects are totally different. 12 oz of Black Label contain 1,555 mg of caffeine. That’s insane! To put it in perspective, that’s almost the equivalent of 6 cups of 12 oz of regular everyday coffee.
They don’t say much about the source of the coffee. However, because they claim is high altitude, volcanic beans, it’s assumed they mean Arabica. Robusta grows in flat terrain below 3000 ft altitude. Another reason for its smoothness, despite the dangerously high caffeine content.
After having a cup of this coffee, I’m pretty sure you won’t sleep. At some point, Black Insomnia was the world’s strongest coffee. So far, they all have claimed the crown. Although not as strong as its predecessor, in this review, a 12 oz cup contains 1,105 mg. That’s enough to wake me up for 3 days. They blend their beans and source them specifically for their caffeine content and flavor. They achieve a distinct flavor and aroma.
One thing they claim to do good, is the roasting process. Roasting is key in preserving the correct amount of caffeine. Too hot and it cooks away.
If you’re still not jumping and running, after ingesting a cup of this, then just follow their recipe that calls for a 1:4 ratio. That’s 1 tsp per 4 oz of water.
You can also enjoy this blend in hazelnut, caramel and macadamia aromas.
Just be careful who you shake hands with. They might get a high instantly.
Another product by the Death Wish people. They blend Arabica and Robusta Fair Trade organic beans from Indonesia and South America. It’s a medium-dark roast with a nutty, chocolaty flavor. It’s not as potent as the super coffees, only 608 mg of caffeine per 12 oz cup of coffee. I can’t believe I said “only.”
Valhalla Java was created for rock’s guitarist Zakk Wylde. After going sober, he switched from beer to coffee. Just to paraphrase him, ‘he traded one addiction for another.’
A cup of this would have me blogging all day and night.
They warn you. “Don’t drink, if you want to sleep!” This blend of coffee is the UK’s strongest coffee. I guess the math changes here. An 8 oz cup of this coffee contains 440 mg of caffeine. 12 oz, equal 660 mg of caffeine. Quite the smack!
Most consumers praise its smooth taste. Although containing so much caffeine, it’s so smooth that it’s deceiving. One customer, drank a whole Thermos of this coffee and started to feel symptoms he confused with COVID-19. He took lightly the claim of it being “UK’s strongest coffee.” The silky and smooth crema doesn’t dance alone.
This is a favorite of soldiers around the world. A 12 oz cup of Shock Coffee will kick you 320 mg dose of caffeine. We’ve mentioned already some large numbers that 320 mg sound tiny. That amount is way above average. Maybe the balanced between the two varieties of beans plays into the popularity of this brand. Additionally, they use a modern method of roasting that retains more flavor and aroma. When you mix the right ratio of Arabica and Robusta, and the right color profile, you satisfy your mind and your taste buds. Add caffeine, and what else is there to desire?
We keep encountering danger in our quest for seriously high caffeinated coffee. Killer Coffee, popular in Australia and New Zealand is 100 percent Arabica beans. This dark roast concentrates a dose of 53.2 mg for every fluid ounce. Using our 12 oz example, one cup this size packs a caffeine punch of 638.4 mg.
If you are like me, 3 cups is perhaps your minimum daily intake. Six cups could really kill you, no pun intended, all jokes aside.
(We’ll get to safety very soon.)
This coffee does not make any outrageous claim about its caffeine content. Twice as much any regular dark roast. They roast in small batches to ensure a good concentration ratio of flavor to caffeine. Available ground or in beans. Its smooth bold taste makes your morning a delight. Want an enhanced experience? Try the Maple bacon Coffee. Blended Arabica and Robusta with a twist.
Our last coffee also claims to be the strongest coffee in the world. That’s probably in another unexplained sense. At 474 mg of caffeine per 12oz cup, it’s strong but that the strongest. Many people found it smooth, a bit on the bland side. It claims to be the source of natural vitamins and antioxidants, but that’s true of coffee in general. One thing I agree with, is their philosophy, that instead of drinking energy drinks, you should try their coffee. Try any naturally, caffeinated coffee, as a pick me up. Although not the strongest, this mild dark blend, will do just that. Believe me, someone out there won’t sleep.
As a general rule, the FDA’s recommendation of 400 mg a day, would be true for most people. That’s about 4 to 5 cups a day. All our reviews exceed that in one serving. “Too much,” will depend also on other factors. No two individuals are alike. Metabolizing caffeine is tricky. My mom drinks coffee to go to sleep, I avoid it before bed. It’s as simple as that.
Most studies used rats to determine the effect of caffeine in the human body. Guess what? We are not rats. Rats are more sensitive to caffeine than we are Not all studies agree. In fact, disparities are huge. Some say is the cure of all ailments, others the cause of them.
Caffeine is a drug, treat it as you would any other found in food (e.g. alcohol, quinine, etc).
If you are a casual coffee drinker, stay away from the death wish coffee.
Now, l feel it wouldn’t be fair to simple leave you pumped up, ready to go try these blends, without a plea to reflection, and yes, caution.
Drinking 20 cups of coffee to get things done works for many people. It worked for me for a long while, until it didn’t anymore. Excesses always lead to peril. You CAN overdose on caffeine. 21 cups did it for me. I had 6 hours to think in the emergency room.
There are important things in our lives. Maybe we need to slow down to be able to enjoy them. Hey, coffee tastes good to the palate. Why not enjoy it without unnecessary risks? Are you tire? Take a nap. Short on time? How about a better schedule? Do you have a lot to study? Take your time and do it right. Go for a walk, cup in hand, and smell the roses.