Coffee is one of the top consumed beverages on Earth. However, there are different types of coffee, such as African coffee from Africa, Arabic coffee from the Arabian peninsula, and Espresso from Italy. But is Arabic coffee stronger than espresso?
Arabic coffee is not stronger than espresso. Why? A study showed that a single cup of Arabic coffee contains 4mg of caffeine. In contrast, another study showed that a single shot of espresso contains 63mg of caffeine and a double shot of espresso contains 125mg of caffeine.
Experts dictate how strong a cup of coffee could be according to the amount of caffeine present. On average, a single cup of coffee could contain around 95mg of caffeine.
However, the caffeine content is dependent on several reasons that this article will get into; you’re welcome to take a seat, brew a cup and keep reading.
Is Arabic Coffee The Strongest?
A Slight Introduction to Arabic Coffee
Arabic coffee originates from the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee is a popular beverage in Arabic countries. It all dates back to the early distribution of coffee from Ethiopia to the Arab countries.
The primary religion that was and still is in the Arabian peninsula is Islam. Islam forbids Muslims from drinking alcohol, and thus coffee, a beverage that did not go against the Quran, went viral, per se.
Another probable reason is caffeine’s ability to keep people awake. You could say it’s the ability to maintain a state of sleeplessness, and thus, people could operate for more extended periods without falling asleep. It’s a win-win situation.
Regardless of the reason, coffee is now part and parcel of Arab culture, and visiting countries like Saudi Arabia will give you the coffee experience of a lifetime.
A Slight Introduction To Espresso
Espresso, as Hollywood duly informed the majority of readers, comes from the European country, Italy. Interestingly, espresso doesn’t refer to a specific type of coffee bean.
Instead, it refers to a brewing method whereby experts extract the coffee flavor by using hot water and pressure. Making espresso is quite fast, and the main goal is to ‘express’ the coffee flavor as much as possible.
After a meal, it’s pretty common for a cup of espresso to follow afterward in Italian culture.
Factors That Determine The Caffeine Levels
|Coffee||Caffeine (mg/1 oz)|
|Brewed coffee||11.9 – 25|
|Brewed decaffeinated||0.25 – 1.5|
|Espresso||47 – 75|
|Instant||3.38 – 21.63|
|Instant decaffeinated||0.25 – 1.5|
Now that the basics are out of the way, it’s time to get into the thick of things. As shared earlier, experts dictate the ‘strength’ of a coffee by the caffeine levels.
However, caffeine levels are dependent on so many factors. Here are the factors that determine the amount of caffeine present in an average cup of coffee:
- The type of coffee beans
- The type of coffee
- The serving size
The Type of Coffee Beans
According to the NCA or the National Coffee Association, there are two major types of coffee:
- Coffea Arabica
- Coffea Robusta
There is a third type of coffee, Coffea Liberica. However, manufacturers produce it in minimal quantities worldwide. Why? Because it’s closer to Coffea Robusta in taste. The only difference is that Coffea Liberica grows on trees that can span up to 18 meters high.
Arabica is the number one most popular coffee bean worldwide. It makes up 70% of the world’s total coffee production. On the other hand, Robusta makes up for the remaining 30%.
The reason why Arabica is extremely popular around the world is that Robusta contains more caffeine than Arabica. However, Arabica is pricier in terms of growing and harvesting.
You see, Arabica coffee requires specific conditions to grow and produce quality coffee beans. On the other hand, Robusta does require specific conditions, but it’s flexible. Robusta can grow in warmer climates, unlike Arabica, which can only grow at one specific temperature.
Please note, do not confuse Arabica and Arabic coffee. Arabic coffee refers to coffee brewed and made in the Arabic peninsula, while Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, a coffee plant found and grown in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Which coffee bean do experts use in Arabic coffee? In the Arabian peninsula, they mainly use Arabica coffee to make their coffee. On the other hand, espresso uses both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.
However, you want a coffee bean that will age well with time. Making espresso is a science; this article will cover that below. But in terms of the coffee bean, it’s based on personal preference.
Furthermore, there’s also the issue of crema. Crema is the cream-like substance floating on top of the espresso. You could think of it as the cherry on top of ice cream. Without the cherry on top, it would be a sundae.
Similarly, without the cream, it would just be strong and black coffee in a tiny cup. Arabica beans provide excellent flavor but little to no crema; on the other hand, Robusta produces an incredible amount of crema; it falls short when it comes to flavor, and the high caffeine levels don’t make it any better.
Again, it comes full circle to personal preference and what you choose as a trade-off to your favorite cup of coffee.
To understand the roasting method, you must understand how coffee beans move from cherries to coffee beans. The NCA created a 10 step process that coffee beans worldwide go through before landing in your cup.
This article has summarized that process for you. Here’s how it works:
STEP 1: Planting
Coffee is a plant, and like any plant, it grows from a seedling to a fully-fledged and mature plant. Please note that any seed that has undergone processing will not germinate. It’s pretty frankly dead at that stage, so germination will not take place.
A mature coffee plant will take three to four years to produce cherries. At the growing stage, farmers do not consider them as coffee beans but rather cherries. They resemble cherries because of their bright red color. Please take note of the colors mentioned throughout this process.
STEP 2: Picking the cherries
When the cherries have a red color or sometimes a yellow color, they are ripe and ready for picking. Farmers then pick the cherries off the plants. Farmers conduct the picking process in two ways:
- Farmers can either strip the entire coffee plant of the cherries and sorting them out later.
- Farmers can selectively pick the cherries from the plants. They will then leave the unripe cherries on the trees for them to further ripes.
STEP 3: Processing the cherries
Now that the farmers have picked the cherries, they can now process the cherries. Processing the cherries involves removing 89% of the moisture from the cherries.
Farmers do this by either drying out the cherries or using water and machines to remove the outer layer manually. After that, farmers transfer the cherries to machines that ferment the cherries, resulting in a dry coffee bean.
Essentially, you can think of processing as drying out the coffee cherries, which is why any coffee cherries that have undergone the processing will not grow into a coffee plant. The cherries have undergone intense drying and are now beans.
STEP 4: Milling the Coffee Beans
Once the coffee beans have undergone drying, they go through a mill where they undergo hulling and polishing. Hulling involves removing the outer layer from the seed. Hulling occurs to coffee beans that underwent the wet method of processing.
On the other hand, polishing involves removing any skin left on the coffee beans. It’s one of the final checks before export. The coffee beans will then undergo grading and sorting to determine their value.
STEP 5: Exporting
Manufacturers will export the coffee beans to their respective clients worldwide.
It could quite easily be in your city or home town. It’s a small world.
STEP 6: Roasting (the main point here)
Roasting involves transforming the green exported coffee beans into the brown coffee beans that you are more familiar with from pictures and advertisements.
Why aren’t the coffee beans roasted before exported? It’s because green coffee beans store better than roasted coffee beans. It also ensures that the transportation (the exporting process) is easy and the coffee beans remain fresh for consumption.
Roasting is a science. The green coffee bean is still well green; experts say it has a grassy taste. The roasting process puts the green coffee beans in machines with high temperatures. Once the coffee beans reach the desired temperature point, they are quickly cooled off to maintain a specific roast level.
Please note that once you have roasted the green coffee beans, the roasted coffee beans turn perishable. Ensure that you have used the roasted coffee beans as soon as possible.
According to the NCA, a lighter roast is an indicator of a higher caffeine level. At the same time, a darker roast indicates a lower caffeine level. It’s pretty hard to distinguish roast because coffee enthusiasts primarily base them on personal preference, culture, and geographical location.
However, there are the most common types of roasts found worldwide:
- Light roast
- Medium roast
- Medium-dark roasts
- Dark roasts
Lightly roasted coffee beans are the most highly preferred coffee beans on this list. Why? Coffee beans have oil as part of their structure. However, when lightly roasted, the heat doesn’t permeate through the oil layer.
Thus you (the consumer) are left without an oily surface on your cup of coffee.
With medium roasts, you get the best of both worlds. You receive a strong flavor and a non-oily surface because, again, the heat doesn’t permeate through the oil part of the coffee bean.
This coffee bean roast is the most preferred in the United States, and thus, its more common name is the American roast.
At this roast level, the heat has permeated through the oil layer. So you have some oil on the surface. What sets this roast apart is the bittersweet aftertaste.
Last and certainly not least is the dark roast. It has the shiniest coffee beans, and the heat has fully broken through the oil layer. You will most likely find an oily surface with this roast.
You should know that dark roast comes as either dark or charred. Another thing to note is that the darker the roast, the less acidity of consuming coffee.
Espresso tends to come from dark roasted coffee beans, which explains its taste and flavor. On the other hand, Arabic coffee will rarely come from a dark roast.
Most of the time, Arabic coffee will have between a light roast and a medium-dark roast. You will also find that coffee sommeliers mix their coffee with cardamom.
Cardamom is a traditional beverage mainly found in Arabic culture. How do people in the Arabian peninsula do it? They crush the roasted coffee beans and the Cardamom seeds in a special grinder.
Then they proceed with their preferred coffee-making process. Please note that roast is just but one factor that affects the caffeine levels of either Arabic coffee or espresso. Don’t just take one factor, be sure to encompass all four factors during the comparison process.
The Serving Size
Espresso contains more caffeine per volume than Arabic coffee. However, baristas serve espresso in minuscule quantities. Espresso cups are the tiniest pieces of pottery, and for a good reason.
Vast amounts of caffeine are detrimental to your health, and vast intakes of espresso would work against your body. On the other hand, baristas serve Arabic coffee in average-sized coffee cups. Their caffeine levels may not be that high but drinking a lot would multiply the caffeine you ingest.
Regardless of the serving size, you should monitor your intake to living a healthier lifestyle. Or you could turn to other healthier versions of coffee. Decaf may not be a welcome thought, but it might be something you could try, if and only if it’s something you’re looking into for your well-being.
All in all, you can find Arabic coffee and Espresso coffee in two different parts of the world, and their tastes may differ significantly. However, it’s still good coffee even if espresso is a lot stronger than Arabica coffee.
What Have We Learned Here?
In a nutshell, the strength of a coffee refers to the different caffeine levels that are present in a single cup. Arabic coffee isn’t highly caffeinated, while it also isn’t at the bottom of the caffeine levels.
On the other hand, espresso contains a high level of caffeine.
Helpful Coffee FAQs.
Does Arabic Coffee Have More Caffeine?
In terms of caffeine levels, Arabic coffee falls in the middle of the scale. It’s not too high, nor is it too low. If you compare it with something like espresso, you can tell that there are higher caffeinated coffee types out there. So, no, Arabic coffee isn’t at the top of the caffeine list. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty demure.
Not only that, but Arabic coffee is sometimes mixed with cardamom. Cardamom is a spice grounded with the coffee beans and brewed together to give that exotic Arabic coffee taste. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you can rest assured that Arabic coffee isn’t highly caffeinated.
If you are concerned about the levels, you can ask your local barista about the caffeine levels of different brands available to you.
What Coffee Is Stronger Than Espresso?
At the moment, espresso is at the top of the list when it comes to caffeine levels. There are claims of Ristretto being a contender, but Ristretto is just another version of espresso that’s been restricted in some form or manner.
Regardless, espresso still tops the charts every year. Coffee sommeliers commonly indulge in not only that but Espresso and Ristretto. They aren’t the Miss Congeniality of the coffee industry. It’s sad, but they are bitter, which isn’t a favorite of many coffee enthusiasts.
How Do Italian Coffee Machines Make Stronger Coffee Than Other Methods?
Whether Italian or not, coffee machines do not dictate the strength of caffeine levels of a particular cup of coffee. The strength or the caffeine levels are dictated by the following factors: coffee type, roasting method ( keyword is the method, not tool), the type of coffee, and lastly, the type of coffee beans.
So the answer doesn’t lie with the coffee machines. Different coffee machines offer different brewing options. The result is up to the method you choose, the roast level of the coffee beans you are brewing, and the type of coffee beans you are using. You cannot consider all of these factors separately.
You have to take all of these factors into account. It sounds like a long process because it is. Making coffee is an art form and science, from the most straightforward brewed cup to the more complicated tiny cup of espresso.