It’s Monday morning. A weekend full of Whiteclaw infused bad ideas and a record breaking Netflix binge session has left you weaker than normal. Your boss says get to your desk but you really should be in the morgue. Even if you got a decent amount of sleep the night before, for some reason you just can’t gather the energy to deal with the world today. Now, more than ever, you need some coffee to save you.

Here in lies the problem. There’s so many options out there, how do you know which one will do the trick? Translated: How do you know which one is the strongest?

Think of any time you’ve tried picking out coffee at the food store. You’ll see shelves containing dozens of options. From Light Roast to Dark Roast, Arabica, Colombian, Breakfast, and Espresso. But what the hell does that even mean? Why can’t you just label them strong or mild like salsas so we know what we’re getting into? Like you, we love our coffee but simply don’t understand what it is we’re drinking, so below we try to translate it as best as possible for you.

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Light vs Dark

The common belief is that the dark roast coffees hold more caffeine than light roast coffees. This is in fact, not true. Actually, there’s still a lot of debate on this topic, but basically it comes down to how you measure it. Essentially, all coffee beans have the same amount of caffeine, so on a one to one scale, the beans are even. However, during the roasting process, dark beans lose their density. This means that if you measure by scoops, your Light Roast coffee will contain more caffeine than your dark roast. Basically, caffeine level decreases as the coffee gets darker.

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Species

When it comes to coffee, there are two main species: Arabica and Robusta. Surely you’ve seen these names on coffee packages and wondered what this means. No, Arabica does not come from Arabia. In the simplest definition: Arabica tastes better but is more expensive, while Robusta is cheaper and has a harsher taste. But don’t let price point fool you. Arabica typically has less caffeine than Robusta’s harsh taste provides. How much less? Up to 50% less caffeine! The average 12 oz cup of Robusta can contain between 230 to 800 milligrams of caffeine, while the Arabica only offers between 84 and 580 milligrams. So if you’re looking for that stronger dose and don’t mind the flavor, slum it up and go for the Robusta coffee.

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Brew Method

There’s a lot of debate on whether or not certain brew methods result in higher caffeine levels. Most people believe that cold brew creates the strongest coffee, but that’s not entirely true. Cold brew often creates a concentrate which is strong but is then diluted with water, essentially making it just as strong or weaker than most regular standard drip coffees. Regular brew coffee on the other hand tends to have a higher dose of caffeine. One example, as listed by Starbucks, is one 16 oz Cold Brew has about 200mg of caffeine, while their hot brew coffee can contain between 260 – 360 mg of caffeine. The on thing stronger than both the hot and cold brew is of course the espresso. This method of brewing creates the strongest coffee per volume in that it normally contains 65 – 75 mg of caffeine per 1.75 oz of coffee. One shot by itself may not be what you need but when you start stacking them, that’s where the power kicks.

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Now that you’re a little more educated on the subject you can pick the right cup of coffee that’ll give you the boost you need to conquer the world. If that’s too much then at least you can sound like a coffee snob when you ask Karen the Office Administrator why she’s spending so much on that weak ass Arabica coffee.