K-Cup coffee is typically weaker than just about any other coffee you can brew. There’s no doubting the convenience of these machines, but sometimes you need a little more oomph in your first cup of the day.
The good news is that there are a number of K-Cup brands designed to pack a much bigger punch.
In this article, I’m going to review some of the best brands for brewing a Keurig cuppa that’s guaranteed to put a spring in your step.
The best strong K-Cup coffee brands for my money are:
- Death Wish Coffee *** TOP PICK ***
- Timothy’s Rainforest Espresso
- SToK Caffeinated Black Coffee
- Wake The Hell Up!
- Valhalla Java
- Banned Coffee World’s Strongest Coffee
- Starbucks Plus Coffee 2X Caffeine
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These are all really good options and I’ll be reviewing each one individually in this article.
For my money though, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Death Wish K-Cups for a knockout brew.
(Head back to my massive home coffee brewing guide when you’re done for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
What is “strong” exactly?
Before I start reviewing individual K-Cups, it’s worth covering what we talk about when we say “strong coffee”.
There are two ways of looking at this.
If you’re looking for a stronger kick from your coffee, you’ll want to choose a K-Cup that maximizes the caffeine content.
If you’re looking for a stronger flavor, you’ll be looking for a darker roast bean. These typically produce bolder, richer drinks.
It’s surprisingly hard to combine both of these worlds though.
This is because the roasting process itself reduces the caffeine content of the bean. The longer the bean is roasted to achieve a darker finish – and a deeper flavor profile – the more caffeine gets lost in the process.
If you want the best of both worlds, you’ll need to focus on medium roast beans.
I’m not sure you’ll get the best results with this approach though, so you might want to just pick a side and sample the extremes!
Strong K-Cup Coffee Reviews
Let’s move on to the individual K-Cups.
Taste is obviously a very subjective thing, so I’ll try to give as much detail on the drinking experience as I can in each case:
Death Wish has grown an excellent reputation for producing truly knockout coffee in recent years.
These extra strong pods are compatible with all Keurig machines. You can also use them in coffee makers from other manufacturers that support K-Cups.
The combination of Arabica and Robusta beans results in an extremely potent brew. Even so, it lacks the bitterness you might expect from such a strong cup.
If you like a dash of chocolate and cherry in your coffee, I think you’re going to love this stuff.
Despite being quite a big name at this point, Death Wish still roasts its coffee in small batches, and to ensure your own brew is as fresh as possible.
The coffee’s also produced using Fair Trade guidelines. It’s organically grown as well, so no need to worry about pesticides or additives here.
As a final thumbs-up, Death Wish’s K-Cups are very easy to recycle. Just pop them in your collection bin and you can lose the guilt that comes with this kind of coffee brewing.
Timothy’s Rainforest Espresso produces a strong, full-bodied drink with hints of sweetness throughout.
The name’s a little bit misleading, as this isn’t designed to create the sort of short espresso drink you might expect.
Instead, these K-Cups are made to deliver the bold flavor of an espresso drink in an 8 oz servings. It’s more about recreating the flavor than the shot size.
That approach makes these pods a very good choice if you have a Keurig machine capable of producing lattes and cappuccinos. You get the espresso flavor profile but in a bigger drink.
A final selling point here is the extra coffee contained in each K-Cup. The Rainforest Espresso is billed as packing 27% more coffee than the average K-Cup.
That goes a long way to delivering on the producer’s promise of producing a larger espresso serving that doesn’t compromise on taste and quality.
SToK isn’t messing around with this one. If a strong caffeine kick is what you’re after, the 40mg of caffeine in every one of these is going to be more than enough to get your day started.
It’s so strong, in fact, that SToK recommends consuming no more than two of these shots a day. It goes further than this too, suggesting that pregnant women should avoid consuming it altogether.
It’s safe to say that if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, you’ll want to give this one a miss. It’s a case of all or nothing here!
The taste overall is quite neutral, and so these are ideal for adding to any brew you like that needs “a little” livening up.
It goes without saying that this is not a drink for the faint-hearted though. If you only drink a little every day, and just want a big shot when you do, it’s a potent option.
It’s certainly a good alternative if you’re powering your way through energy drinks but want to get away from that sugary fizz.
It’s also a very cost-effective pod to use if you buy them in bulk.
This is another coffee that’s putting its caffeinated credentials front and center in its branding.
The pods offer a really nice balance of flavor and caffeine. It uses a medium-dark roast coffee that hits both sides of the strength equation pretty cleanly.
When it comes to compatibility, you can use these pods in any Keurig 1.0 / 2.0 machine, or a Breville, Cuisinart and Mr Coffee K-Cup brewer.
The makers of this coffee – Utica – have been in business for nearly 20 years now, and have a good reputation for small-batch, very high quality brewing.
If you like to support those doing social good in the world, they’re a particular good brand to put your money behind.
Formed in 2002, the company purposefully set up shop in an economically deprived part of town. By doing so, they’ve been able to provide much-needed work opportunities for the younger members of the community.
Valhalla Java is a very popular option for lovers of strong pod coffee. It’s yet another offering from Death Wish Coffee.
By the manufacturer’s own estimate, these pods pack around 20% more coffee and double the caffeine of the average single serve coffee pod.
This is another medium-dark roast coffee, which provides a strong flavor to go alongside that enhanced caffeine kick. It’s noticeably milder than the previous Death Wish pod I’ve reviewed though.
The drink itself has a nutty aftertaste, and makes a smooth brew with very little bitterness. It’s a great option if the other Death Wish brand sounds a little too intense for your tastes.
This is a really tasty medium dark-roast blend that will lure even the deepest sleeper out of their bed and into the kitchen!
This brew packs a heavy but smooth body, with little hints of chocolate and berries throughout the flavor profile.
The manufacturers claim this stuff is equivalent to drinking eight cups of regular coffee, so make sure you go into this with your eyes wide open!
I also agree with their claim that this coffee is best served with a syrup to really bring out the flavor. Grab a little vanilla or hazelnut syrup to really get the most out of this one.
You can buy these in a wide range of pack sizes, and you can use them in any Keurig 1.0 or 2.0 compatible machine.
If you’re looking to recreate your Starbucks experience at home – albeit with the biggest possible kick – then I believe these are the best pods you can buy.
This is a dark-roasted 100% Arabica coffee with twice the caffeine content as other Starbucks pods. It’s the company’s Caffe Verona blend given a turbo-charge, basically.
As well as improving the strength, this particular pod is also packed with extra B vitamins and biotin. Personally I don’t drink coffee to lead a healthier lifestyle, but every little bit helps.
As for flavor, this is a very dependable imitation of an in-store brew, with hints of ginger, cinnamon and turmeric throughout.
Sometimes when you buy K-Cups online you’re taking a bit of a gamble with use-by dates.
That doesn’t appear to be the case with the Starbucks range though, with most people having at least a year to burn through any given batch.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Starbucks has put in quite a bit of effort towards improving its environmental impact lately.
The latest edition of these pods are fully recyclable, so you can continue indulging in this sort of convenience without the guilt trip.
Each of the pods I’ve reviewed for this article do what they do very well. The joy with pods, of course, is that you can experiment with literally hundreds of different flavors!
If you’re looking for an all-round super-strong K-Cup with a big kick of caffeine and flavor though, I’d recommend picking up the Death Wish pods.
They’re pretty much the best of both worlds and it’s a product line I find very easy to recommend.
Click here to read more reviews, and see how other coffee drinkers have been getting on with it.
Strong Brew Hacks
There are a few tried and tested “hacks” for boosting the strength of your K-Cup coffee.
If you want to continue enjoying your current favorite flavors – but with a richer taste – try out some of these tricks.
If you have a single cup brewer, you can brew your drink twice to get a much stronger drink.
Once the first brew has finished, add the coffee back into the water reservoir, then run another K-Cup through it.
You’ll get a much richer brew this way, but there are some obvious disadvantages.
First of all, your drinks are going to cost twice as much money. Things are going to get expensive fast.
Secondly, K-Cups aren’t exactly good for the environment. You’ll only be adding to the planet’s landfill even more.
Warm the Machine Up
If you’ve got some time to play with, try brewing a tank of water through the machine first.
When you then make a proper K-Cup brew, the tank will be preheated.
The end result is hotter water, which typically produces a more flavorful drink.
Focus on Smaller Servings
Generally speaking the smaller the brew you make, the richer it will be.
If you don’t mind sacrificing volume for a richer cup of coffee, stick to the smallest serving sizes on your Keurig machine.
You might also consider removing the cup from the dispenser when you’re down to the last bits of the brew. This stage tends to be weaker, although you’ll need to empty your drip tray more often.