As a writer, I obsess over various things that accompany my writing process, and one of them is coffee. Strong, bold, keeps-me-awake coffee.
Regarding strengths, I’ve experimented a lot with how much coffee to use per cup of water, and have come to a startling conclusion: there is no such thing as coffee that is too strong.
Many people I have known through the years drink their coffee so weak you can see through it. They don’t like strong coffee because to them, they equate stronger coffee to increased bitterness. To make up for lack of flavor, they add powdered creamer and lots of sugar.
That’s very sad. They have no idea what the real taste of coffee is like.
Case in point: an ex in-law of mine used to complain about how strong a coffee I used to make, and that’s after I would make it weaker than I’d like it because I knew she didn’t like it that strong. It turned into a quandary. We both didn’t like it, because to her it was still too strong, and for me it was not strong enough.
Then one day she had a cup of the brew I made for myself and said, “Wow, that’s really strong. The weird thing is I like it.” She went on about how surprised she was, that she never likes strong coffee. She wanted to know what I did to it.
That was years ago, and only now am I learning what is going on. Coffee cannot be too strong. If you think it’s too strong, it’s not strong enough.
What I’ve found through my experiments is that coffee’s flavor changes radically with strength. Make it weak, you get a feeble coffee flavor and little bitterness. Make it somewhat strong, and you get more flavor but much more bitterness. Keep adding coffee, and then the flavor starts catching up to the bitterness until at some point it actually passes it, and the bitterness is just a little note mixed in with all that wonderful coffee flavor.
So if you think it’s too strong because it’s too bitter, you have to add MORE coffee. You can’t make it too strong because at some point the water becomes saturated and can’t hold any more. And that, my friends, is when the coffee tastes the best.
Adding more coffee beyond that will not change the flavor, but it will waste coffee. Heaven forbid you waste precious coffee!
When the coffee manufacturers say use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup, they mean 6 ounce cups, not 8 ounce cups. It really is a good rule of thumb, but I’ve found about 2½ tablespoons works best for me. Any more than that and you’ve started wasting the coffee.
A lot of this depends, of course, on how you’re making the coffee. I’m basing this on using a French Press using a medium grind from a burr grinder. I put in pure water at the proper temperature and let it steep for about 5 minutes. I might add a bit of sweetener depending on the type of coffee.
But I’ll tell you this, I taste the coffee. And I love it.
(By the way, if you like the mug I used in the illustration, if you click on it you can buy it from Cafe Press.)