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Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Does The Brew Strength Setting Do?

Testing The Brew Strength Selector

What Does the Brew Strength Button Do?
What Does the Brew Strength Button Do?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

The other day, I noticed a button on my coffeemaker that I had not played with: the Brew Strength selector.  I had been brewing coffee for years at "regular" brew strength.  Pushing the Brew Strength button brings up "bold" and "robust" options.  Was I missing out on making better coffee by not turning up the brew strength?

I tried brewing with "bold" and a "robust" brew strength selected.  I noticed that it took longer to brew the coffee, and the resulting coffee was more bitter.  "Bold" brew was a little more bitter and "robust" brew was quite a bit more bitter.

This got me curious enough to find out exactly what the brew strength setting on a coffee maker does.

What Does The Brew Strength Setting Do?


The brew strength selector adjusts how much time it takes to brew a pot of coffee.  The same amount of water is used, but the higher the brew strength, the longer water stays in contact with the coffee grounds.  This does extract more flavor, but not necessarily good flavor.

The good sweet coffee flavors are extracted first.  Longer contact with water results in extraction of more bitter flavors from the coffee grounds.  So turning up the brew strength does change the flavor of coffee, but not in a good way!

Bold Brew Strength Setting
Bold Brew Strength Setting
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I decided to find out how much time the hot water is in contact with the coffee grounds for each brew strength setting.  I got out my flashlight and a stopwatch.  I brewed a 16 oz pot of coffee at each brew strength setting: regular, bold, and robust and timed how long it took to brew.

Here are the results:

Regular Brew Strength
3:46

Bold Brew Strength
5:38

Robust Brew Strength
6:28

The times stated above are in minutes and seconds, for example it took 3 minutes and 46 seconds from the time I started brewing until brewing was complete for 16 oz of water on the regular brew strength setting.

So brewing a "robust" pot of coffee not only makes the coffee bitter, but takes nearly twice as long!

Robust Brew Strength Setting
Robust Brew Strength Setting
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

My recommendation is to stick with regular brew strength.  If you want stronger coffee, use more coffee grounds and don't mess with the brew strength setting.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. Penny Pincher. All Rights Reserved. Coffee Maker Journal

2 comments:

  1. Nice write up. Probably depends on your beans too, some varieties will benefit from longer extraction

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  2. Some of us think it tastes better.I use mine all the time because I love the taste of a stronger brew.

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