I see many people confuse coffee “strength” or, caffeine content, with roast styles. A lot of times people associate a “stronger” (higher caffeine) coffee with a darker roast. This simply isn’t true. The content of caffeine in your coffee depends largely on the type of coffee beans you are using.
There are 2 types of coffee beans. Arabica and Robusta. And so what’s the difference?
To begin with, Arabica makes up most of the coffee produced and most of the coffee that we drink. It grows in a high altitude near the equator and is very particular in terms of where it can grow. Robusta on the other hand, can grow at lower altitudes and is less susceptible to pests, making it cheaper and easier to produce.
The Arabica bean has a better taste than robusta. Often you will find high quality coffees that use 100% Arabica. But it is important to note that Arabica has about half the caffeine content of Robusta.
Because it is cheaper to buy robusta, a lot of cheaper coffees will contain a certain amount of robusta. A typical ratio may be 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta. That is not to say that it may be more or less, but when there is a higher Robusta content in the coffee, there will inevitably be more caffeine.
Of course, we expect that coffee has caffeine, and maybe it’s the reason why some of us drink it. But some people complain about caffeine sensitivity or the ill-effects caffeine has on their system. I would suggest looking to see what kind of coffee you typically drink on a regular basis, and if it is a cheaper coffee, it could be worth your while to change to a higher quality, 100% Arabica coffee instead.
To sum it all up, Robusta is cheaper and has about twice the amount of caffeine compared with Arabica. Many cheaper coffees will also use a higher ratio of Robusta, to make up for cost, hence giving you a coffee with more caffeine. On the flip side, Arabica is the higher quality bean with a better taste.