Want Caffeine in the Morning? It's All in How You Brew It!
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Whether you didn't get enough zzz's or you just need reinforcement to start the day, coffee is the friend that gets you there. From the delectable aroma to the very first sip, it's the reason we say a silent prayer of thanks...and then smile.
So how much of a jolt do you need to get your motor running?
There are a few factors that determine your caffeine content, but one of the biggies is how you brew it. Different brewing methods have different extraction levels. As Dr. Bob Arnot, internist and author of The Coffee Lover's Bible, explains different brewing methods have different levels of caffeine.
We break down those methods for you so you can decide how much caffeine you really want to jumpstart your day!
What Kind of Beans are You Using?
Coffee from high altitudes like Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, and Brazil have a lower caffeine content but more polyphenols because the soil is nutrient dense. (Polyphenols are the active compounds that help with gut, brain, and heart health.)
Next up is the grind.
Arnot says, “The smaller the grind size, the bigger the surface area [of the grind],” says Dr. Arnot. “A grind as fine as a cosmetic powder is the one that gives you the very highest extraction.”
Of course, it's not quite that simple since different brewing methods require different types of grind, but you get the idea.
Lastly, the quality of the water used and the temperature is very important. According to Arnot, the higher the temperature, the higher the extraction and caffeine.
For example, immersion brewing completely envelopes the coffee grounds in water, which yields higher extractions. And you can let the brew sit for a while to get more extraction and caffeine.
And that leads us to brewing methods.
Automatic Drip and Single-Serve Coffeemakers
These machines require a coarser grind which means lower water temperatures. So you will not get as much caffeine. Same is true for Keurigs and other single-serve brewers. Some brewers have hotter water, so you might squeeze out a bit more caffeine.
How About Cowboy Coffee or Turkish Coffee?
We're pretty sure these methods aren't your go-to coffee brewing techniques. But if you want the highest extraction of caffeine, then the immersion method is for you.
Basically, you take an ultra-fine coffee grind and run boiling water over it with no filter. Submerge on all sides for two or more minutes. However, sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much.
It's easy for this method to produce a bitter coffee due to over extraction. So watch out!
Chemex, Hario, Kalito--The Pour-Over Brewing Techniques
Pour overs have the highest extraction. You'll use a slightly large grind than with the immersion. Expect to get quite a bit of caffeine from the medium to fine grinds. But a very, very fine grind is a recipe for disaster. It will clog up your filter because it sops up all the water. So, stay clear!
This method is really an immersion technique but you use a medium grind size in the AeroPress. If you try to use a finer grind, you could actually explode coffee ground all over the place. (Not good.)
A medium grind is best because of the pressure required when pushing the plunger down.
The French Press is not a high extraction press. Yes, it's an immersion method and you do use very hot water, but the grind is coarse.
Because this is a cold brewed coffee, it ranks lowest on the list of brewing methods as far as extraction goes.
According to Arnot, “Cold brew is an under-extraction technique. So, you probably extract 75% to 80% of what you get in hot brew, and that’s because you don’t have the hot temperature."
Arnot goes on to say, "You increase the time to try to make up for a much lower temperature, and you can’t use a super fine grind size."
Even so, the amount of caffeine in a cold brew depends on how concentrated it is. If you drank the concentrate, you're guaranteed a jolt. That's why it's usually diluted with water or milk.
What Does All This Ranking Mean?
Not much in the scheme of things because this isn't a "best to worst" rating. Nor is it a judgment about what's inferior and what's superior in terms of caffeine extraction.
It's really just a guide. Remember, it you drink coffee that has an extreme amount of caffeine, you're not really getting the full benefit of the drink. You lose all those polyphenols.
Choosing a coffee with lower caffeine is a good thing. But hey, if you can drink high test coffee without getting the shakes, go for it!
Want gourmet coffee but you're on the run? Stop by the Coffee Cave at Jake's Convenience. We've got 5-star coffee waiting for you. You'll also find craft beer, growlers, and wine, not to mention all your favorite comfort foods!