Is This the Strongest Coffee in the World?

One company wants to claim the title.

April 16, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

When you’re buying coffee, are you looking for a roast that’s light or dark, French or Colombian, Hawaiian or Ethiopian? Or are you a thrill-seeker who’s swayed by ominous packaging and words like "banned", "death wish", and "biohazard" (all of which would seem to indicate a pretty intense coffee experience)?

Rather than seeking out the low-key breakfast blends preferred by many, those in the latter camp are on the lookout for the strongest coffee around—and if possible, the strongest coffee in the world.

As you might imagine, the competition for this title is fierce. Currently, there’s one company that bills itself, right on the label, as “World’s Strongest Coffee,” with a roasting technique that results in “an obscene 1,105 milligrams of caffeine per cup.” That’s the Black Insomnia Coffee Company, which sounds like a business straight out of Game of Thrones...

Founded in South Africa, Black Insomnia is a blend of Robusta and Arabica beans roasted to produce “nutty aromas” and a “dark chocolate aftertaste." One 12-ounce cup contains almost three times the recommended amount of caffeine for healthy adults, up to 400 milligrams a day. (And as of now, you can add a bag of Black Insomnia to your Amazon cart for $20, or buy it directly from the website.)

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I've gotten a bit old for caffeine blast coffee- a regular from Peets is about my limit these days- but this is good stuff, organic, fair trade coffee. Also, their coffee house in Concord, CA has open mike nights and sponsors musical events, which the world needs more of. ”
— Smaug

But—is it really the strongest coffee in the world? Not according to Caffeine Informer, an online resource that provides accurate and up-to-date information on caffeine content in foods and drinks.

Currently, that top spot belongs to Black Label from the Devil Mountain Coffee Company, a blend that allegedly doesn’t give you the “coffee jitters” even though it has 1,555 milligrams of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces. Caffeine Informer ranks this coffee’s caffeine strength as "dangerous," and urges that those who drink it be “extremely cautious.”

Next is an Australian brand called High Voltage Coffee, with 1,150 milligrams per 12 fluid ounces. At the moment, it’s only available in Australia.

Black Insomnia comes next, at 1,105 milligrams, which means that it’s really the third “world’s strongest coffee,” or the third most dangerous coffee to drink in a full serving or larger. That doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but for all we know, Black Insomnia’s roasters could be hard at work producing an even more menacing coffee that’s four times the recommended daily caffeine limit.

These strength rankings bring to light a question: What makes coffee "strong"?

To start, we might look to the roast type. Although "dark roast" might sound stronger, it actually just means that the coffee has been roasted for longer at a higher temperature, making the beans drier and less dense. A less dense bean means less volume and less caffeine. "Light" or “blonde” roast beans, on the other hand, have been roasted for less time at a lower temperature, helping to maintain their moisture content and caffeine level.

On a related note, although Colombian, Hawaiian, and Ethiopian coffees do refer to beans from those regions, when you see the word “French” on a coffee package, it refers instead to the roasting style of the beans, not where they were farmed. According to the National Coffee Association, French-roasting produces some of the darkest, and therefore least-caffeinated, coffee beans.

In the meantime, please don’t hold me responsible if drinking any of the blends above does give you the jitters (or worse). I’m just the coffee informant.

What's your favorite style of coffee? Tell, tell in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • James43
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Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady


James43 March 27, 2023
I have tried almost all of the strong coffees out there and the best one in my opinion is High Voltage Coffee Co, tastes amazing and is strong, NOT just strong, most coffees try to get the caffeine content up and forget about the other qualities, High Voltage has it all.
dmcoffee April 3, 2021
Great content, I have always been addicted to good coffee, and on the lookout for my next intriguing experience. I recently tried a turkish espresso in a nearby cafe and it blew my mind. Thanks for this list, definitely worth checking out each one of them.
Drew B. April 27, 2019
Great write up. Being the strongest can also go deeper than the caffeine content. Give us the back story of the brand. Are they doing anything notable as a company for the greater good?
Terry April 18, 2019
You need to try our coffee.
You will find it is hands down the best coffee and the strongest. Please don’t write about us unless you try us.
Thank you
B. G. April 17, 2019
I am very fond of the "wood-fired" coffee from Summer Moon. It may not be the strongest coffee on the planet, but it is the richest and smoothest I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. It makes the charred brew from Starbucks an insult to the palate.
Gerard April 17, 2019
Vassilaros Coffee, The NYC coffee company that supplies all the diners. Such a great medium blend, 100 percent arabica blend, drinking some while writing this.
Smaug April 16, 2019
Glad to see Devil Mountain on there. For one thing, I live in sight of Mt.Diablo, or did until the neighbors' trees grew in, so they're kind of a local fave. I've gotten a bit old for caffeine blast coffee- a regular from Peets is about my limit these days- but this is good stuff, organic, fair trade coffee. Also, their coffee house in Concord, CA has open mike nights and sponsors musical events, which the world needs more of.