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I just had an espresso at a café, and it really put into perspective how weak my everyday coffee is. All the equipment I own is a blade grinder, and my method is a turkish brew (grind the beans, put them in the cup, pour-over some boiling water, wait for it to sink, done!).

What can I do to get stronger coffee? And more precisely, what will make the most difference?

Note that I am not willing to buy any new equipment or machines; I'm asking about what I can do with what I've got.

Update: tried adding grounds onto boiling water, instead of pouring water over grounds. Here's how it went:

TL;DR:

No success, strength did not increase and taste just got worse.

What I did: I took my strongest beans, ground them as fine as possible, used two identical cups, divided the grounds into two equal portions (on a separate tray). I put grounds first, boiling water afterwards in the first cup, and did the same thing but backwards on the second one. I did not stir any of the cups after adding all ingredients. After quite some time I tasted both cups, I am now finishing them both up while programming.

Observations: The grounds on the "water-first" cup took a considerable time to sink into the liquid. Even after the brewing time had passed, much more grounds were floating around there than in the "pour-over" cup. Also, the water-first cup had almost no foam, which the pour-over cup had plenty of.

Results: The water-first cup was not stronger than the pour-over; if anything it tasted weaker. The taste was quite different too, water-first tasted a bit stale/watery (not much but there was a clear difference). Pour-over had a rounder and more full aroma, liked that one more. And the crema/foam looked a lot better on the pour-over as well.

  • How about this related question, although based on the French press? – Eric Platon Apr 20 '15 at 14:35
  • @EricPlaton I guess this would be that, but without the French press. Some good tips there, but I do already buy fresh beans and grind right before using. One thing that might be handy from there is the tip of adding the coffee onto the water, not the other way around. Will try that. – Ludwik Apr 20 '15 at 16:10
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    Great. Please share your experience here :-) – Eric Platon Apr 20 '15 at 16:25
  • Done. And sadly, my quest for stronger coffee continues. – Ludwik Apr 20 '15 at 17:39
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    I would always do water-on-coffee, because of the exact reason you cited: the grounds will sit on top if you do coffee on water. In fact, as the grounds that hit first begin to be extracted, the crema will begin to form. Since you said you ground as fine as you could, that means the individual grounds are as light as possible. They will sit on top of the crema until they have absorbed enough water for the entire lump to break the surface tension of the crema and water. – Mike Frazer Apr 21 '15 at 16:33
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There are a few things you can do.

1) More beans. More beans = more surface area = more extraction.

2) Grind finer. It's tough to control grind size with a blade grinder, so if you really want a consistent, strong cup, you will eventually want to invest in a burr grinder. But with a blade grinder, grind it longer.

3) This is the biggest: don't use boiling water. Optimal coffee extraction occurs at temperatures roughly between 185 and 202 degrees F. You'll need to play with this, because the actual best temperature varies with things like water quality, altitude and, yes, weather. Those last two are the same reason why recipes often have special steps or settings for high-altitude prep. I find that, in North Carolina, the best temperature is on the higher end of that range, from 195 to 200 degrees.

4) Finally, don't stir with a metal spoon during extraction. Metal is a heat sink and will alter the temperature of the water. Additionally (this is speculation, as I don't have verification for this), the fact that many coffees are at least mildly acidic can also result in flavor changes with a metal spoon if you stir before adding cream. The cream is basic and will help neutralize the acid.

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I see only one possibility to make your turkish brew stronger and that is using more coffee beans per serving. You are using boiling water and long extraction time so almost everything from the coffee gets extracted leaving you this only option to make it stronger.

  • You may be right, but we'll see if something doesn't turn up. People are sometimes surprisingly creative ;) – Ludwik Apr 20 '15 at 17:41
  • They are :) However, I suppose most people on this site including me would rather suggest other preparation method.. – Lamorak Apr 20 '15 at 20:17
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    The only alternative to using more beans per ounce of liquid is to try and extract more flavor compounds from your existing grounds. You could either steep the grounds longer or use hotter water. I believe either of these will result in bad tasting coffee. – PJNoes Apr 20 '15 at 22:31
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    I saw a Turkish coffee video on the Sweet Marias web site. I think they re-heated the water + grounds two more times, which would increase the extraction – Rick G May 1 '15 at 17:34
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    Turkish coffee is different method - turkish brew is just better name for pouring hot water over any coffee beans you find – Lamorak May 2 '15 at 7:30

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