Unlocking the Secrets of Coffee Strength & Flavour: A Comprehensive Guide

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Unlocking the Secrets of Coffee Strength & Flavour: A Comprehensive Guide

Enjoying and drinking coffee is a matter of personal taste and preference. When I started drinking coffee, one of the things I always looked out for was the strength of the package. You've seen it all over the coffee packs - what does it all mean? Let's find out.

What is the Strength number on the coffee scale?

You have probably encountered numbers on the side of the jar or coffee scale, usually ranging from 1 - 10 or sometimes 1 - 5. Many of us assume that the higher the number, the stronger the coffee's flavour is, and the higher will be the caffeine content in it. However, this is not always the case.

Can number 10 really be considered the strongest coffee?

The strength of a coffee depends on the roasting time, not the caffeine content. It is possible to have a strength 3 with more caffeine than a strength 5.

Do you really think buying the stronger coffee (usually strength 5 or, on rare occasions, strength 6 or 7!) will give you a strong coffee? Actually no. Those numbers refer to how darkly roasted and bitter-tasting the coffee is, not its strength.

A darker roast gives you a stronger flavor, usually bitter, punchier, and more intense. Dark roast coffee is roasted past the second crack, this allows for more natural oils to be released, thus creating a much stronger, and fuller taste.

How does roasting impacts coffee flavor?

Coffee's roast level is one of the most important indicators of its taste, which can be determined with a color meter or by tasting. Roasters usually enhance a coffee's flavor by deciding its degree of roasting. Generally speaking, light roast coffees contain more acid, and dark roast coffees contain more bitterness. Also, fruity flavors can be common in light roasts, and roasty and burnt flavors can be found in dark roasts.

Coffee strength scale

To give you an idea of what the coffee strength numbers mean, we've put together a rough guide, but keep in mind different brands will scale their coffees differently.

Generally, coffee intensity is classified into

  • 1–4 levels - light-bodied, delicately flavoured coffee.
  • 5–7 levels - balanced, rich in flavour.
  • 8–10 levels - full-bodied, generously aromatic coffee with burnt flavours.

When it comes to the colour of roasted beans, we can classify coffee beans as

  • Light roast - Because the beans are not roasted long enough, they are generally lighter, tangier, and more citrusy in flavour.
  • Medium roasts - Generally considered one of the best roasts, medium roasts are very smooth and have a non-oily surface texture.
  • Medium-dark roast - Balanced, slightly oily with a full-bodied profile.
  • Dark roast – Being rich and intense in flavour these beans are very shiny and have a lot of oil, dark in colour.
  • Very dark roast - The coffee beans will appear shiny and black, almost charred, and have a bitter taste. They will almost look burnt.

In terms of coffee, there is no ideal roast level. It all depends on your personal preferences, how you drink it, and how you enjoy it. So, find your roast preference and enjoy every cup of coffee.

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