Strong morning coffees with distinctive aromas are usually the first thought of the day for those people who wake up really needing their first caffeine fix of the day. Many critics lump caffeine addiction in the same league as tobacco and alcohol. However, coffee is a more socially acceptable stimulant that sets people up for their day with a beneficial shot (or two).
Across the world over 400 billion cups are downed annually, with British fans spending close to a billion pounds for 500g of coffee per person per year. Men drink more than women, with over a third drinking it black and two thirds sweetening it. 13% of coffee drunk is the instant form and well over half of all coffee is consumed at breakfast. What these statistics demonstrate is just how fundamental morning coffee is within our society.
The types of coffee bean employed are many. For centuries the most used varieties have been Arabian or Moka beans; bourbon, medium sized grains, yellowing and oblong and from Martinique. Nowadays there are beans from India, Africa, West Indies, Java and Sumatra and much of South America. Each bean has a unique flavour, some subtly and others starkly different. Some of the strongest coffees drunk in the UK are achieved by blending varieties in skilful processes closely guarded by the manufacturers. The concentration of caffeine is determined during the roasting stage.
Equally varied are the methods people employ to make their brew at home or in the workplace. Straight ground coffee from a filter or the simple percolator (or French press) is still the most popular and the espresso and cappuccino are made by domestic machines.
The more elaborate percolator is still frequently used, but the modern efficient single-shot pod machine is becoming widespread. In this, the precise amount of strength is delivered every time and there are no messy grains to dispose of.
People often assume that a professionally-made ‘officially recognised’, uniform ‘strong’ cup of coffee contains 50mg of caffeine, but research has found wide differences between strengths provided by different coffee shops. This has concerned some experts who fear pregnant women, for example, may be taking too much caffeine without realising it. The Food Standards Agency advises expectant mums to confine their daily caffeine intake to 200mg.
For the rest of the population, strong morning coffees are fine, great pick-me ups and like all potentially addictive things, when taken in moderation bearing in mind a person’s height, weight and daily exercise, can and should be enjoyed by everyone for the full flavour.
There is one particular coffee advertised as ‘Death Wish’ made from a bean ‘with close to 200% the amount of caffeine’ in a typical shop’s cup, roasted to a medium-dark for ‘strong and robust’ flavour which is then ground ‘for extreme potency’. That one is for hard core coffee enthusiasts!
For those who like the taste of coffee but feel happier without the caffeine kick, most brands come in totally decaffeinated varieties. Although these will still contain a small amount of caffeine.