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Is coffee weaker nowadays?

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  • Is coffee weaker nowadays?

        Im just wondering if Im imagining something, or its real.

        I have drunk iced coffee all my adult life (since about 1970, that is), and I quite often get it at a café or restaurant or pizza place.  I have the distinct impression that most places tend to make it weaker now, and if I want it strong enough I have to constantly ask for it strong, whereas I never had to do this a couple of decades ago, as it usually tended to be about right anyway, without me having to ask for it strong.  In other words, the default strength seems to be much less nowadays.
        Does anyone else agree with me on this?
        I thought of the possibility that it isnt different at all, but simply that I either like it stronger now, or my sense of taste has weakened, so I need it stronger just to get the *same* effect.  But I dont think its this, because, before tasting it, I can tell its weak by the colour of it as seen in the glass; when the colour looks right, the taste is usually the right strength too.
        Iced coffee far more often today looks whiter and milkier now than it used to.  Having the visual appearance confirm the changes in taste I think Ive detected seems to confirm that my taste is reliable enough, and hasnt changed significantly.
        I suppose its done to save money; although if people find it too weak they may not come back again for iced coffee, so it seems false economy to me.  Or do most people *like* coffee (or at least iced coffee) weaker now than they used to?

        Id be interested to hear whether anyone agrees with me about this.
        And how do I get cafés, etc. to serve coffee strong enough?  Well, obviously, ask for it strong.  But what if even when I do that it still comes too weak?  Since I dont know how they mix up their iced coffee, there isnt any obvious simple formula I can ask for such as "three teaspoons", or "one and a half or double the normal strength" - since in a new place I dont know what "normal" is, or how strong "one teaspoon" might be.
        Is there a universal way of measuring coffee strength which is not dependent on the individual café, so that if I ask for x of that measurement I can be sure it will be just right?

        Obviously this problem is mainly with places I havent been to very often, because when I go to a place often enough, I am finally able to educate them about how I like it.  They are invariably willing to try to get it right; but even familiar places still sometimes make it too weak for me.
        My usual practice is that, if I asked for it strong and it didnt come strong, I will ask them to take it back and strengthen it.  This seems reasonable, although I feel a bit embarrassed about having to do it; but I do it on the grounds that I am entitled to get what I asked for.  But if, when it comes back, it is still too weak (which is surprisingly often), I dont feel I can ask them to strengthen it a second time, and I just drink it weak, although dont enjoy it.  If this happens more than two or three few times, I will generally stop getting iced coffee there.  If I think that, aside from the weakness, it would be a good coffee, I am willing to try a few more times to educate them in what I like.

        So when it comes to cafés, does anyone find this problem?  And what tactics do they use to get their coffee strong enough as often as possible?
        Thanks for any ideas on this.


  • #2
    Re: Is coffee weaker nowadays?

    I would assume the drop in coffee intensity would be due to instant coffee being used 2 decades ago aposed to proper espresso coffee now.

    At work i pull a fresh double shot into a glass tumbler out of the fridge. Then decant that onto some ice cream and top with milk.

    Sometime a get a couple that askes for it to be strong so i do 2 double restrettos in each.

    As much as having to do cold drinks in between barista duties sometimes when the floor staff are busy, im much happier to have it asked for as a strong one than have to re-make it.

    Ask how its being made...then tell them to double the coffee


    • #3
      Re: Is coffee weaker nowadays?

      Sometimes customers are confusing colour with flavour/intensity/caffeine.  At work we use Genovese Super Brazil which has great colour & often people, even before tasting the coffee, claim that it is too strong.  Like Luke G. I will do a doppio ristretto if the customer wants it "strong".


      • #4
        Re: Is coffee weaker nowadays?

        Originally posted by 754C525C667E390 link=1260922420/1#1 date=1260925978
        Ask how its being made...then tell them to double the coffee
        That would probably be the best way of working out how strong they need to make it. If its usually 2 of "X" ask them for 3 or 4 of "X". Then if its still not strong enough, next time you could ask for more.

        If you can give them an order in the same language as they are used to preparing it, theyre more likely to remember your order too!