Do you get more caffeine from a brew if you use more coffee grinds?

by Nick
(Rochester )


This is a question me and my roommate are pondering. If we make a pot of coffee with say 2 times the normal amount of coffee will there be more caffeine in the brew? I understand the brew will be stronger, but how does that correlate to caffeine ratio?


Sure there will. If you are doubling the proportion of coffee to water, you are also doubling the proportion of caffeine to water. Ergo...twice as much caffeine in each cup you drink.

If you want to increase the caffeine level to help with studying, check out our page about how coffee can increase your brainpower.


Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

What is the "yucky" layer on top of my coffee?


I have a fairly new, inexpensive auto-drip coffee maker. I use a common, popular brand of coffee. Whenever I make coffee, I have a greasy, dirty-like layer floating on the top of the coffee. I have cleaned the machine with a vinegar/water solution and have switched between the stainless filter and paper filters, but this still occurs. What is it? Is it safe to drink? It didn't occur with my old coffee makers.


A question like this came up once before, and I'm not sure I have an answer for you.

You have cleaned your coffee maker, so we can rule out the brewer or filter as a source of the "dirty layer".

How is your water? But then, you say that coffee from your old brewer didn't have this problem.

How about your coffee? Have you changed the type of coffee you are buying recently? If you buy a dark roasted coffee, it's quite normal that some of the coffee's natural oils can be seen on the surface of the brew. But this wouldn't constitute a "dirty layer".

If anyone else has any experience of this problem or answers, please let us now.

Click here to read or post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

What is the difference between coffee and espresso?

by Tracy
(Austin, TX)


I’m confused. I would like to make espresso, but don’t think I can with my coffee machine. But I don’t really know the difference between the two. How can I make espresso? And what is the difference?


You’re right, you can’t make espresso with a regular coffee machine.

Regular coffee and espresso are both made with coffee beans, although you use a finer grind when making espresso.

It’s the “brewing” process that is very different.

When you make coffee, whether manually or with a drip brewer, the hot water is poured, dripped or sprayed onto the ground coffee. The water flows down through the ground coffee by gravity, then through a filter and into your mug or carafe. On its way through the ground coffee the water extracts the flavor.

When making espresso you use an espresso machine. The water isn’t dripped through the ground coffee, it is forced through under considerable pressure. The hot, pressurised water creates a very different reaction with the ground coffee and the result is a shot of espresso with a light crema on the top.

This shot of espresso can be enjoyed on its own, or used as the base for a variety of drinks, including cappuccinos, lattes and Americanos.

You can read more about espresso machines on our home espresso machines page.

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

Could my son have a coffee addiction?

by Jennifer
(NY, US)


My son is in high school and drinks a lot of coffee while he is studying. I have told him I think he is developing a coffee addiction. As you can imagine, he just brushes my concerns aside. Is coffee addictive?


Yes, the caffeine in coffee is addictive. That's the reason why we just "have" to have our morning coffee, and why people line up at coffee shop windows on the way to work.

It's also why we can get a bit grumpy and jumpy if we are deprived of coffee.

But if the only worry you have with your son is about his coffee addiction, relax. Compared to addictions to other substances, like the nicotine in cigarettes, kicking the coffee habit is pretty easy.

It's an addiction, but a mild one. And unlike with cigarettes or alcohol, there are very few downsides to drinking coffee.

In fact, your son probably benefits from coffee's ability to help him focus and concentrate while he is studying.

You can learn more about this on our page about coffee addiction.

For more on the benefits coffee while studying, read our page on how coffee can increase your brainpower.

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

How many people touch each coffee bean?

by Rina
(Seattle, WA)


How many people touch each coffee bean? How many people come in contact with your coffee, from plant to cup?


What a great question!

The closest you could get to a definitive answer would be to say that coffee beans are never touched by human hands.

This will be true most of the time, if not all of the time.

If the picking of the coffee cherries is done mechanically, then a machine does the picking. Then the cherries are processed mechanically, and the beans are dried, either within a processing plant or outside in the sun.

When the green beans are dry, they are packed in sacks, moved around by various intermediaries and sent to roasters, who then pour batches of green beans into the roasting machines. After that the beans are either packaged whole or ground and then packaged.

While a human hand might occasionally come into contact with a few beans, most beans will arrive in your home untouched.

Some coffees are hand picked. But even then, human hands pick the cherries, and don't touch the coffee beans themselves.

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

How does one clean a manual coffee grinder?

by Jay Vinson
(Arlington, WI, USA)

A quality manual coffee grinder deserves a good cleaning from time to time.

A quality manual coffee grinder deserves a good cleaning from time to time.


I have a manual grinder that cannot be fully taken apart. The grinding mechanism is adhered to its wooden housing. And, the wooden drawer that the ground coffee falls into and the surrounding wooden compartment are unfinished wood. This makes the use of liquids for cleaning difficult, if not impossible. Is there a solid or powdered substance that is used to clean these grinders? Something else?

Thanks for any help,

Jay Vinson


Jay, hi

Take some uncooked white rice and grind it in the mill. The ground rice absorbs the oils left behind by the ground coffee.

And you're right to think about cleaning the mill, as the old oils build up and, over time, become rancid and add a bitter taste to the fresh coffee beans you grind.

Simply run the rice through your coffee mill a few times. Finally, run some coffee beans through the mill to pick up any fragments of rice and discard the first batch of ground coffee.

Then you'll be ready to start grinding perfect coffee again.

Myself, I have also found that from time to time you need to tighten up any screws or bolts. Hand grinding is pretty tough on a small grinder, and puts a lot of stress on the moving parts.

That said, I love using a quality manual burr coffee grinder. There is something about feeling the coffee being ground that makes for a much richer coffee-making experience, when compared to just pressing a button on an electric grinder.

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

Manual coffee grinder or Electrical?

by Heather
(Frome, Somerset, UK)


Hi there,

I need to get myself a coffee grinder, and I would prefer a manual grinder only because I don't have many electrical outlets in my kitchen. However, I don't want to forgo quality for convenience and if the electrical grinder makes better coffee I would want to purchase that instead.

So is a manual grinder better, same, or worse when making coffee for a Moka Pot (so more like espresso) than an electric grinder?

Thank you!



Heather, hi

Yes, you can buy a manual grinder that will grind coffee for your Moka pot.

And yes, your coffee grinds will be just as good as those created with an electric grinder. In fact, a manual grinder will give you a more consistent grind than an electric blade grinder.

When you review the various models available, be sure that the one you choose allows for variable settings for the coarseness of the grind.

Some of the low-price grinders have a “one grind fits all” setting. But for just a few dollars more, most quality manual mills have a knob or lever that allows you to adjust the spacing between the grinding plates or cones.

As for quality, a good manual grinder has one significant advantage over electric mills. Because the grinding process is manual, and slow, the coffee grinds are not subjected to heat caused by the friction created during the grinding process.

This minimizes the loss of oils through evaporation and also reduces problems with static.

For more information, visit our page on manual coffee mills.

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

How do you make Caffé Mocha?

by James


I want to make caffe mocha, but am not sure how to do it. Can you help?


Like all coffee beverages, other than regular coffee, Caffé Mocha starts with a base of espresso. So I'm hoping you have an espresso machine.

Here's what goes into a Caffé Mocha:

Single shot of espresso
8 oz. hot milk
A teaspoon of chocolate powder or 7 grams of chocolate syrup
Top with real whipped cream.
Dust with quality chocolate powder.
Serve in a 12 oz. cup or mug.

And here is how you make it:

Add the coffee powder or syrup to the bottom of your mug. Make the espresso shot and pour it over the chocolate, and stir. Steam the milk and add the milk to the coffee and chocolate and then, finally, sprinkle a little coffee powder on top,

Yum yum!

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

Glass and Porcelain Coffee Makers


Why are coffee makers made of glass or porcelain usually recommended?


Coffee lovers look for coffee makers made from glass or porcelain simply because it reduces the chance any kind of transfer from the coffee maker to the coffee you are brewing.

The biggest concern is with plastic components in coffee makers.

Many people can taste the plastic after they have brewed their coffee. It seems that the heat of the water leaches out components in the plastic which can then be tasted in the coffee.

This is particularly true with new coffee makers. Just as with a “new car smell” you can also get a new coffee maker smell and taste.

An associated concern is the worry that some of these elements transferred from plastics could be damaging to our health, even carcinogenic.

As a result, there is a growing interest in coffee makers which don’t include plastic components. Of course, if you are looking for a plastic-free brewer you’re going to have to exclude just about every drip brewer and single serve coffee maker on the market.

In your question you don’t mention metal. As far as I know there are no concerns with the use of stainless steel in coffee makers.

For an all-glass drip brewer, consider the Chemex Cup Coffee Maker

Click here to post comments

Return to Coffee Questions 2009.

Before you go, sign up to receive the Coffee Detective Newsletter...

Sign up for occasional newsletters about the best coffees and brewing equipment. Plus special updates from the Coffee Detective Coffee Store…