Blog - Coffee Science
How can we adjust the caffeine kick to be right for us?
Before we go into that, let’s first start by talking about the different things that affect caffeine kick.
Caffeine kick is simpler than it sounds. It’s all about the total caffeine content that ends up with in your beverage, which is the result of the coffee you use and the brewing parameters you try.
The first key aspect is how much caffeine content you are starting with. This often depends on the type of coffee and roast you are using. Robusta coffee packs twice as much caffeine compared to Arabica coffee (with the downside of tasting more bitter than Arabica). Light roasts pack up to 5% more caffeine than dark roasts.
The second key aspect is brewing parameters. This includes aspects like: brewing temperature, coffee to water ratio, and strength. By varying these parameters you can vary the amount of caffeine dissolved in your cup and eventually your body. For example, by increasing the temperature, coffee to water ratio and strength, you can increase the amount of caffeine dissolved in a cup of coffee (assuming that you use the same beans and roast). The good news is that by playing around with these 5 factors, we can increase or decrease the caffeine content of a beverage as we like.
The bad news, however; is that the relationship between each of these 5 factors with caffeine content is not necessarily linear. For instance, higher temperature might on the surface increase the rate of extraction leading to an overall increase in extracted substances, including caffeine. The truth is that higher extraction rate could go beyond the point where caffeine is all extracted. Consequentially, certain substances, which usually do not get extracted at a lower temperature, end up in your cup. Playing around with these 5 factors might help you achieve the right caffeine content, but it might sadly come at the cost of a bad-tasting cup.
If the most important thing to you is the right caffeine kick even at the expense of taste, it is completely sensible to go ahead and play around with the 5 factors mentioned. The only way to know what is right for you is to experiment and pay attention to the effect each combination has on your body. This might seem like a lot of work, but imagine what you could do if you were always at your best and functioning at your peak state every day!
Just how much caffeine do you need?
It was 6am Monday morning, I was getting ready for a very critical presentation that at the time seemed like it was going to determine future of my career. I got out of bed, put on my best suit, and made sure I looked no where as tired as I was from the night of toss and turns.
I have often found my morning coffee to be quite weak- the caffeine effect usually wears down by noon giving me an energy slump. Today I needed things to be different- I needed to be alert and awake. I need to prove to my boss and colleagues that I was capable for this promotion.
So I decided to add more coffee than my usual amount. This time- my heart was pounding so fast, my thoughts were running everywhere and I started to shake… Needless to say, I completely blew the presentation.
Fast-forward two months…
I was alert, awake and was ready to take on any questions. Answers seem to be jumping off the tip of his tongue. I knew I was in my zone. The boss was impressed- my colleagues were impressed- and I got the promotion I deserved.
So, what happened? What’s the difference between what I had experienced now and two months ago?
The difference was simple. I needed to uncover the optimal amount of caffeine for my body. Previously I had experience a lack of caffeine (the energy slump), and later too much caffeine (the jitters). Two months later, I was at my peak state- my body has the right amount of caffeine for the whole body to connect and function at its optimal level.