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Coffee is the most consumed drink in Germany. No wonder it comes in a huge variety of flavours. However the list of coffee specialities does not say much on the strength of the brew. I heard of

dünn
mild
kräftig
stark

But these attributes don't always fit to a given situation (e.g. I would not want to ask for a "dünner Kaffee" in a café; "kräftig" or "mild" seem to characterize the taste more than the strength).

Are there any common terms other than "stark" for strong vs. nothing for anything else that would further define a coffee's strength? Are there any regional differences (including Switzerland or Austria)?

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I know two somewhat extreme points of coffee strength - Blümchenkaffee (you can see the painted flowers on the base of the cup, even though it's still full) and der Löffel kann drin stehen (i.e., it's as thick as tar). I don't drink coffee myself though, so my knowledge about this subject is very limited ;-) –  Jan Apr 18 '12 at 10:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think the strength of coffee doesn't have a fully defined scale in German. Most of the times you would indicate it by negation. So if you want a mild/weak coffee ask for: "nicht zu stark" / "weniger stark".

In the olden days, when you didn't have a gazillion types of different coffee machines you could also specify how many "Loeffel" (spoons) of coffee you'd like in the filter. This works well with the ubiquitous Bodum pots.

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nice - I know of Löffel too - depends much on the size of the spoons ;) –  Takkat Apr 18 '12 at 13:55
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I agree I don't think there is much more than start-nicht stark. I'd like to add something though... I work in a bar and sometimes people complain about their coffee. When they ask for "stark" they mean with LOTS of coffee powder/quadruple espresso... if they say it is too strong, they do mean the taste... after all the amount of caffeine that is inside a cup is highly dependent on beans, roasting, brewing etc. and cannot be tasted. Finnish coffee doesn't look or taste very strong but it'll wake you up good. South italian espresso would be called stark by all people, and yet it is but mildly –  Emanuel Apr 19 '12 at 8:06
    
...arousing :) Bottom line... even if people use strong to talk about caffeine, what they judge it by is taste as the former is beyond their sensual perception. So technically to unequivocally refer to the caffeine you'd need to ask for a coffee with lot's of caffeine ;) –  Emanuel Apr 19 '12 at 8:07
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Note also the "Saxonian scale": de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bl%C3%BCmchenkaffee –  Landei Apr 19 '12 at 13:17
    
People judge differently. Some might judge by taste, others by color, others look how many spoons you take. Ein schöner Mokka ist schwarz wie eingetrocknete Tusche, stark und dennoch rund und weich - nicht bitter. –  user unknown Apr 20 '12 at 15:57

My coffee machine lets me decide between

  • Sehr schwaches Aroma
  • Schwaches Aroma
  • Normales Aroma
  • Starkes Aroma and
  • Sehr starkes Aroma

schwach ~= weak has not been mentioned above.

So this is a real world example, but I don't think it covers all varieties of taste.

So from the procedure of making coffee, this addresses the amount of beans used. Also, you may vary temperature (I dont know how this would taste...) or the kind of bean. E. g. Starbucks uses Arabica which (they say) fits the taste of most anglo american countries best, while it's unpopular in Italy. To further describe your taste in coffee, you may have to add some instructions for the procedure itself like adding milk (which kind and which amount?) or if you like sugar (brown or white and how much?).

I don't think there is any language out there to cover all that.

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my grandpa once made coffee while forgetting to add coffee. it was just hot water, a bit salt and a bit cacao. Don't know why he made it that way but it's legendary in my family. –  sinned Apr 24 '12 at 18:21

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