Anyone can make strong coffee, but that doesn't mean it's good. Good, strong coffee takes more than just a heavy hand with the coffee grounds.
You want good strong coffee, like the stuff you find at coffeehouses, minus the hefty price tag, right? Maybe you’ve tried to make it yourself at home without much success. It takes more than just extra coffee grounds to brew a strong, flavorful cup of coffee.
Typical American coffee just isn’t meant to stand up to espresso-strength brewing. It wasn’t roasted or ground for that purpose, so it turns bitter when you use more. To make good strong coffee, the process starts long before the brew cycle. It starts with the right roast and the right grind.
The Right Roast for the Right Brew
For stronger coffee, without the bitterness, start with the roast. The longer a coffee bean roasts, the richer the flavor. Arabica and Columbian beans in darker roasts provide a full-bodied brew well suited for strong coffee. However, French roast, no matter the bean used, is the absolute best for strong coffee lovers.
In terms of darker roasts, the fresher the better. If you’re really adventurous, you can roast your own beans in less than six minutes in an air popcorn popper to ensure you start with the freshest roast possible.
You can find green coffee beans through gourmet grocers and online suppliers. Only use an air popcorn popper or appliances designed to roast coffee beans. Air poppers, for instance, can vent the chaff created from roasting coffee beans.
Pour in a small amount of your chosen green coffee beans, equal to the amount of popcorn kernels recommended for your popper, and turn on the machine. You should hear cracking after the first three minutes. Watch the beans carefully for the next two or three minutes.
Just before they reach the dark color you want, pour them into a colander and shake to cool. Grind the beans as soon as they cool completely.
The Daily Grind Means Everything
If you grind your own coffee, choose a setting that gives you a coarse grind. You don’t want to use a powdery grind to make strong coffee. You want a chunky consistency to get the best strong brew. Be careful not to overheat the beans during grinding, as this can create bitterness later. Don’t grind more than you’re likely to use in a five day period.
Store your grinds in a glass jar with an airtight lid. Keep the jar away from light, not in the fridge or freezer. Coffee is at its absolute best when roasted, ground, and brewed within 24 hours. However, if you store it in an airtight container out of the light, your grounds will stay fresh up to five days.
Brew the Perfect Cup
With darker roasts, you do not have to use more grounds to achieve a good strong brew. Since tastes vary, this is the part where you get to experiment to suit your own taste. Start with a ratio of one rounded tablespoon of coffee grounds per six to eight ounces of water. Gradually increase grinds in ½ tablespoon increments until you find the perfect ratio for your tastes and coffee maker.
If you simply cannot abide taking the time to roast or grind your own, you can make standard coffee stronger, to an extent. Buy good quality, pre-ground, pre-packaged coffee in a French roast. Add a pinch of salt to your coffee pot before brewing to eliminate some of the bitterness. It won’t be the same, but it least it won’t be quite as bitter or nasty as the stuff you’ll get by heaping on extra grounds.
Your turn: What’s your secret to a great cup of strong coffee?