If you own one of the higher-end models of a Keurig, you’ll likely notice a new “strong” button on it. If you press this button when brewing your cup of coffee, your cup will come out stronger than if you didn’t push it. But how exactly does this button magically make your coffee stronger?
When pressing the “strong” button on the Keurig, the water flowing through the k-cup moves slower, thus giving it more time to extract those bold flavors from the ground coffee. The length of time the “strong” button adds is half a minute.
Let’s look a bit closer into how this button works and, precisely, how it affects the taste and strength of your cup of coffee.
What Does Coffee Strength Actually Mean?
There often needs clarification regarding what a strong cup of coffee refers to. The “strong coffee” interpretation may mean different things to different people. Interpretations range from the taste of the coffee to the amount of caffeine it contains or a combination of both.
In reality, the brewing process determines the strength of a cup of coffee. While many believe coffee strength concerns the beans’ roast level or the caffeine content, this isn’t quite accurate.
Strong coffee is made by using a higher coffee-to-water ratio, meaning a strong coffee will have a higher percentage of dissolved coffee grounds than water. The more coffee your filter or K-Cup, the stronger your cup will be.
How the “Strong” Button Works on a Keurig
We all know Keurig’s are so popular because you can brew a single cup of coffee in record time. When brewing with the “strong” button activated, you will be adding an additional 30 seconds of brew time, which is still extremely fast.
These 30 seconds allow the coffee grounds to seep longer and be further extracted, giving that cup of coffee a strong flavor. Extraction is the process of pulling the flavor out of the coffee bean through hot water. A chemical reaction dissolves the flavor compounds when hot water is combined with the coffee grounds.
As the brewing comes to its completeness, the coveted oils, sugars, and other flavors will have had enough brewing time to be extracted from the coffee grounds. These final flavors balance out the initial flavors from the acids.
When the brewing is done quickly, the coffee is more acidic. The slower the coffee is brewed, the more balanced it is with acids, sugars, and oils. Remember, at noted earlier, this won’t necessarily increase the amount of caffeine in your cup, just the strength of it.
The “Strong” setting on higher end Keurig machines allow you to brew slightly slower thereby increasing the coffee’s strength and flavor profile.
Keep in mind that using the “strong” feature only affects the length of time the water runs through the grounds. It does not change the amount of coffee being used or the amount of water used.
A common misconception about the “strong” feature is that it heats the water temperature hotter to produce a stronger cup. This is not true. Water temperature should never go to its boiling point. Instead, always stay between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
The high temperature of the boiling water causes over-extraction of the coffee grounds, which will make your coffee come out bitter.
To learn why your coffee may be over or under-extracted, click here.
Other Ways to Increase Coffee Strength
Other ways to increase your coffee’s strength don’t involve the “strong” feature. Keep in mind that strength refers to the percentage of dissolved coffee grounds compared to the amount of water.
So, another way to increase strength is to use more coffee grounds in your filter. In the case of a Keurig machine, you’ll need to purchase a reusable K-cup filter. If you want your coffee to be stronger, fill the filter all the way with coffee grounds. The more coffee in it, the stronger your cup will be.
Another alternative is looking for K-cups that advertise themselves as “strong.” There are a variety of options out there now, and there is sure a fit for you.
Keurig Brewing Too Strong Even with the “Strong” Button Off?
You may prefer your coffee to be less strong and milder. Even with the “strong” button not pressed, you feel as if your coffee’s strength is still a little too much. Can you do anything about this?
Thankfully, you’re not out of luck if this is the case. You can do three things to reduce the strength of your Keurig coffee.
1. Switch to a Reusable K-cup
If your coffee is too strong for you, then decreasing the amount of ground coffee you use will solve your issue. Of course, with a typical pre-packaged k-cup, you can’t necessarily take out coffee grounds from it. So instead, you can purchase a reusable k-cup.
They are simple to use and can be found here on Amazon.
This is where you can experiment with how much coffee you put in the coffee filter. The more you put in, the stronger the coffee will be, while the less you put in, the less strong your coffee will be. It’s relatively simple.
Be sure to wash out your filters after each use thoroughly. Leftover coffee buildup can lead to bitter-tasting coffee.
2. Try Different K-cup Flavors
There are over 200 K-cup flavors to choose from, so if you are unhappy with the strength or taste of a particular one, change it up. The flavor profiles include vanilla, pumpkin, pecan, mocha, hazelnut, coconut, cinnamon, chocolate, chai, caramel, and blueberry.
You can also choose from dark, light, and medium roasts. For more information on what differs between roast levels, click here.
In 2021, Thrillist partnered with coffee veteran Josh Taves to select the 19 best K-Cup flavors. Here are the top 10 for your perusal:
- Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend
- Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend
- Eight O’Clock The Original
- Starbucks Pike Place Roast
- Folgers Black Silk
- The Original Donut Shop Coffee
- Starbucks Sumatra Coffee
- Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll
- Green Mountain Coffee Hazelnut
- Newman’s Own Organics Special Blend Extra Bold
3. Upgrade Your Keurig Machine
Unfortunately, this last suggestion will cost you a bit more. Purchasing a newer Keurig with more bells and whistles will give you more options and control over how your coffee will turn out. The brew strength options in the Keurig 2.0 are far superior to the original Keurig.
You get six brew settings, each intended for making a specific type of caffeinated beverage. Being able to customize the settings to such a degree makes it easier for you to adjust the caffeination and flavor of your coffee so it’s more appealing to you.
For a more in-depth read on producing a less strong cup of coffee with a Keurig, click here.
The “strong” button on your Keurig is a great option if you love a strong cup of coffee. By allowing more time for the hot water to run through your grounds, you can control the strength of your coffee.
Have more questions about your Keurig device?
- Do K-Cups need to be refrigerated? Click for answer!
- Can you use a K-Cup more than once? Click for answer!