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What is the intensity of a coffee and what factors it is depended on?


About tension and other demons ...

When we are faced with the choice of the next blend that we will try, we will have noticed that most coffee packages have some special markings, in order to better inform us. These signs usually refer to the body, the acidity, the sweetness, and of course the "intensity".

But what exactly is the infamous "intensity" of a blend? We try to explain this feature in simple words, but also to dispel some misunderstandings around it!


What exactly is the intensity of coffee?

The term "intensity", when describing a blend of coffee, refers mainly to its overall character. With the term intensity we try to describe how rich and how intense the aroma of coffee is, always in combination with its "body". This is a definition that is relatively difficult to describe in detail in words, but that can nevertheless be understood relatively easily by anyone who has a relevant experience in the field of coffee and has tried.

"Intensity" is one of the most difficult quantities to measure, in terms of the taste profile of coffee. This is due on the one hand to the fact that subjectivity is very strong and personal taste plays a decisive role, and on the other hand to the fact that in order for a blender to decide the intensity of a blend it creates, it takes into account different factors, which are not always objective.

What does the intensity of coffee depend on?

As for the overall character of the blend, and individual characteristics such as aroma and body, the intensity of a blend depends on many factors. Initially, the intensity is related to the ratio of Arabica and Robusta that a blend has, with the increased presence of Robusta generally increasing the intensity. Also, the individual varieties used, as well as the country of origin, but also the ratio between them, affect the intensity of a coffee blend. Of course, the degree of roasting also plays a role, with the most roasted blends being considered, in general, blends of greater intensity.

How do you measure the intensity of coffee?

In espresso blends on the market, the intensity is usually measured on a scale of 5, 10 or 12, with the main purpose of informing consumers about the character of each blend. It is important to emphasize that this categorization is of course indicative, is not subject to any international standard and can differ significantly from company to company, while the personal taste bud makes things even more complicated. It is not unlikely that a blend with an intensity of "5" looks to someone less "intense" than a blend of equal intensity from another company.

In general, and using the scale of 10, which is used by several coffee companies, we can expect the following characteristics from an espresso blend, depending on the indicated volume:

1 - 4: light body, delicate aroma
5 - 7: balanced coffee, rich in aroma
8 - 10: coffee with a strong body and a particularly strong aroma.

Does higher volume mean more caffeine?

Although some factors that affect the intensity of the coffee, such as the presence of Robusta in the blend or the varieties included, affect the caffeine content of a blend, the intensity does not necessarily mean a higher caffeine content. The association of intensity with the strength of coffee is one of the most well-known misunderstandings in the world of coffee. While the intensity simply describes the coffee's taste profile, precisely because of its taste characteristics, it tends to be confused by many coffee lovers with the caffeine content, which generally does not correspond to reality.

So, while in general some high-intensity blends may indeed be louder than others of lower intensity, this is not the rule and you should of course not take into account if what we are interested in when buying a coffee is its content in caffeine.

Sweet coffees, strong, low or high intensity, single variety or in blends, everything is a matter of personal taste. Good coffee is always important, the coffee we deserve!