You’ve probably heard cold brew drinkers talk about just how strong of a kick they get in the mornings from the drink. But does cold brew have more caffeine? Potentially, but it depends on a few different factors.
Cold brew can be stronger than other coffee types, but caffeine extract depends on water temperature, ground size, and time of ground and water contact. You can adjust those elements to make other brew methods stronger.
Typically, cold brew takes 16-24 hours to brew, and that means it has a long water to grounds contact time. That’s what makes its caffeine content on the high end. With most brew methods, you can expect between 18-22% caffeine extraction according to Jinyoon Han, co-founder of Bean & Bean Coffee Roasters in New York City, who spoke with Well + Good.
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While yes, cold brew might be in that upper range, it’s not far and away more than other methods according to Han, at least when brewed at home on your own. Thanks to each method’s blend of water temperature, ground size, and contact, they all end up in a relatively similar range of caffeine (omitting outliers like store-bought cold brew and espresso drinks with more than one shot. These tend to have higher caffeine contents).
You can, however, attempt to manipulate the caffeine content in your coffee by adjusting those three major factors. For example, if you do want a stronger cold brew, you can warm up the water (hot water extracts more caffeine) a bit and use a smaller size grind (which means more surface area covered with water).
On average, in your own daily brewing, you’re probably getting similar amounts of caffeine across the board when it comes to single servings of each coffee brew method. That doesn’t mean cold brew can’t be stronger, though. Ultimately, how you customize your brewing is how you increase or decrease the caffeine.