What Does The Strong Button Do On A Keurig Coffee Maker?

If you have a more premium Keurig machine, you may have noticed there’s a relatively new button on it labeled “Strong.”

It calls out to coffee drinkers like a red button that says “for emergency use only.”

So, if you press it, will your coffee machine start doing bicep curls with your mug, or will it just make your coffee stronger? Before you give it a go, let me fill you in on what to expect.

How Does the Keurig Strong Button Work? (Mechanics Explained!)

The Keurig machines' brew strength feature slows down the brewing process, but there isn't really too much science behind the mechanics.

Extending the brew time results in stronger coffee because it allows for more time for extraction of the coffee grounds.

Rather than a steady stream of hot water being pushed through the K-cup, it is released in intervals, which slows down the brewing time.

Think of pressing "Strong" as using a bold setting. You'll notice the difference but still have a convenient, balanced cup!

Will Pressing It Increase The Caffeine Content?

A strong coffee doesn’t necessarily have higher caffeine content than a “weaker” coffee, as a stronger cup is the result of the brew time, roast level, or grind size.

There's a common misconception that a "strong coffee" equals a more caffeinated coffee. When I refer to a"strong coffee," what I mean is that the cup has a bolder, richer taste.

If you brew a dark roast coffee pod and a light roast with the same water-to-coffee ratio and for the same length of time, they should contain around the same quantity of caffeine.

Strong Setting On A Keurig

Do Longer Brews Always Make Stronger Coffee?

Yes, brewing longer is an almost surefire way to ensure a stronger Keurig coffee taste.

With more traditional brewing methods (think drip coffee maker), you can also make a stronger coffee by using more coffee grounds.

Still, with Keurig coffee makers, you're pretty much confined to the amount contained within each K-cup (take a look at some secret hacks further down).

Why Does The Strong Setting Slow The Brew Cycle Down?

The strong setting on a Keurig coffee maker makes a stronger cup of coffee by extending the amount of time the hot water soaks and moves through the coffee grounds inside a K-cup.

This process extracts more flavor by steeping the grounds in hot water for longer, resulting in a more concentrated brew.

Tips From A Barista!

A normal brew time for higher-end Keurig machines is about a minute when using the regular setting.

For example, if you've ever made pour-over coffee, you know that it's made by continuously saturating the coffee grounds with water.

If you were just to pour all the water out over the grounds in one splash, it would end up being weak, messy, and not too tasty.

The slower you go, the more coffee you extract. The strong brew setting on a Keurig machine is kind of like that, understandably slowing the brew cycle down.

9 Other Methods To Brew Stronger Coffee With A Keurig

1. Choose Extra Bold K-cups

Brewing strong coffee may just be as simple as opting for bolder K-cups (I’m personally a fan of the Atlas Coffee Club ones!) Bold flavor. Complex notes. Smooth finish.

What more could you ask for?

Typically speaking, an extra-bold K-cup is going to offer more caffeine, ramping up coffee strength without having to brew slightly slower.

2. Brewing In A Smaller Cup

You’re probably already aware that you can select the cup size on your Keurig coffee maker.

Did you know, though, that if you choose a smaller cup size, you’re actually getting a stronger cup of coffee?

It’s a super easy way to make Keurig coffee stronger without having to really make any changes.

3. Preheating Your Keurig

We know that preheating a Keurig brewer obviously heats up the water before brewing your coffee.

If you just "brew" a cup of water first and then immediately place a K-cup in, you can elevate the temperature of the coffee by a few degrees, which could slightly strengthen the coffee's flavor.

4. Keep Your Keurig Coffee Machine Clean

This is smart advice regarding taste and for keeping your coffee makers always in proper working order.

If you ask me (unfortunately, from personal experience), don't wait until your Keurig tells you to descale or clean it.

Remove coffee grounds and oil buildup by wiping down the needles and brew chamber once a week or so. If you don't, you could experience weaker coffee, and we don't have time for that!

Cleaning A Keurig Machine

5. Remove Your Cup Before It Brews The Whole Pod

The coffee extraction process is more complex than one would probably assume. Coffee has sweet, bitter, and sour compounds, with each type of coffee featuring a specific taste and aroma.

Each of these compounds are extracted at a different rate.

Sour or "acidic" compounds are extracted first, so if you shorten the brew/extraction time, you're going to end up with a more acidic cup.

If you wait a bit longer, the sweet compounds will start to come out, so you'll have a sweeter cup of coffee. If you wait even longer, you’ll end up with a deliciously rich, bold taste.

However, if you wait too long, the bitter compounds will be extracted, which is called "over-brewing," and that's not tasty, either.

Luckily, with a Keurig coffee maker, you don't have to worry about that. The brew time of 1 minute and 30 seconds is perfect to get a strong, rich-flavored cup of coffee.

6. Double Cup It

It’s neither economical nor eco-friendly, but you could choose the smallest size on your coffee maker, brewing two pods into one mug.[1] It’s a great way to get more caffeine, too!

7. Use Your Own Coffee

Brewed coffee at home doesn’t have to be weak or low-quality.

I’m not saying that K-cups can’t offer quality coffee, but by using your own coffee you do know how fresh it is and can choose a coarser grind.

A coarser grind or simply a darker roast coffee also ends up in a bolder cup o’ Joe!

8. Use Reusable K-Cups

I'm surprised by how many people didn't know of the existence of the reusable K-cup filter, but I also didn't know about them until somewhat recently!

You get to control how much coffee ground is going into the capsule with these.

As we've already chatted about, we know that increasing the amount of grounds-to-water ratio also results in a strong cup of coffee!

Not to mention, these are much more eco-friendly! Just don't fill past the max-fill line, or you'll end up with grounds in your cup.

9. Use The Correct Coffee Water Ratio

This is a big one when it comes to brewing coffee strong. Experts recommend a 1:16 ratio, coming to around 5 ounces of water per K-cup coffee.

With all Keurig coffee maker models, there isn’t really a lot of room for error, though.

How To Fix A Keurig Strong Button (Don’t Drink Weak Coffee)

If after you press the strong setting button, the “cup sizes” buttons don’t light up, it’s not working properly. Here are some ways to resolve the problem:

Power Cycle:

  1. Power on the Keurig models.
  2. Open the pod chamber by lifting the handle as if you were going to place a Keurig K-cup inside.
  3. Press the strong button.
  4. Restart if the lights still aren’t turning on.

Clearing the Needle & Water Lines:

  1. Run vinegar and water through your coffee maker to help clear the lines of any residual grime and grounds.[2]
  2. Run 5 or 6 times until the screen no longer shows "descale."
Clearing The Needle Of Your Keurig Machine

Related Keurig Strong Button Questions

Are smaller Keurig cups stronger than big cups?

Generally speaking, a smaller K-cup will make a stronger cup of coffee than the larger ones.

Are darker roasts stronger?

In terms of flavor, darker roasts do tend to have a stronger flavor. However, when it comes to caffeine, they usually (surprisingly) have less caffeine than their lighter-roasted counterparts![3]

Can you use the strong button on the Keurig for tea?

If you don’t want to brew coffee, you can definitely use the strong button on tea capsules. However, you may be better off just running some hot water through the Keurig and steeping a teabag the “old-school” way.

What is the Keurig “Iced” button?

If you’d like to brew coffee at a lower temperature, this is the way to go. When you click the Keurig “iced” button, it drops down to 150 degrees during the brewing process to make coffee that’s less likely to melt ice. If you’re in the mood for bold coffee on the rocks, give it a shot!

Start Using The Strong Button Today!

If you're using one of the newer Keurig models to facilitate your caffeination and want to ramp up your coffee's strength, you should have already pushed that "Strong" button by now!

Trust me, after a single cup, you'll wonder why you hadn't listened to me sooner. With just one click, you'll amplify the strength of your coffee and be ready for whatever the day throws at you!


  1. https://www.npr.org/2023/01/21/1150530714/yeah-actually-your-plastic-coffee-pod-may-not-be-great-for-the-planet
  2. https://www.keurig.com/hub/support/how-to-descale-your-keurig-coffee-maker
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dark-roast-coffee-caffeine-and-benefits
Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis is the Head of Marketing here at Barista HQ. While keeping up-to-date on the latest trends in coffee, you can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening. She is passionate about keeping you informed about what’s new in coffee.

Leave a Comment