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Does the Bean or Roast Determine Your Coffee’s Strength?

Cup of coffee, bag and scoop on old rusty background.
Ilja Generalov/Shutterstock.com

Different people like different varieties of coffee. Whether it’s the flavor, type, roasting technique, or strength of the coffee, everyone has their own personal preferences. Some people like a cupp that’s eye-wateringly strong, others like something more subtle.

But what exactly determines how strong or weak the coffee is? Is it the coffee beans/grounds, or is it the roast type that makes the difference?

Turns out the answer is “both”. Kind of.

Coffee’s strength is first and foremost determined by the ratio of coffee grounds to water when you brew it. No matter the type of coffee beans or darkness of the roast, if you use a higher percentage of coffee grounds you’ll get a stronger and more caffeinated cup of coffee regardless.

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In terms of the coffee beans and roast, it’s true that different types of coffee beans will have different caffeine levels which does affect the strength of your coffee. However, the roasting technique will also have an impact on the beans’ taste and strength.

Basically, the roasting process makes coffee beans both larger and less dense. Light roast coffees are made from beans that are roasted for less time and are thus exposed to less heat, so they will generally have more caffeine with a delicate and subtle flavor.

Dark roasts, on the other hand, will have a deeper yet simpler flavor because they lose more of their caffeine and initial flavor during the longer roasting period. So they often taste stronger than lighter roasts despite having less caffeine.

Basically, in terms of volume (scoop for scoop) a light roast will have more caffeine and a stronger taste. But when it comes to weight (ounce for ounce), a dark roast will pack more of a punch.

It can definitely be a bit confusing so don’t be afraid to play around with both light and dark roasts and different coffee beans until you get a sense of what you like best.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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