What Does Bold Coffee Mean? (Explained for Beginners)

Last Updated on April 19, 2022 by John Moretti

Coffee drinkers are often subjected to phrases that are easily misunderstood. So what is bold coffee, what does it mean, and how can we distinguish it from other terms used to characterize a cup of coffee, like “strong”, “rich”, and “full-bodied”?

Although often misunderstood to mean strong, bold coffee refers to the flavors and aromas present in the coffee beans. Bold coffee is intense, smokey, or roasty in flavor. Bold coffee is mostly dark roasted coffee and is “cleaner” with slightly more acidic flavors.

So, the description “bold” does not refer to the strength or viscosity of a cup of coffee but its flavors and aromas. If you’d like to learn more about bold coffee and how to define it, this article will provide you with all the details you need.

Image of cup with designs filled with hot coffee

Defining “Bold” Coffee

Bold coffee is typically associated with darker roasts, which often take on intense, roasty, carbonyl, smokey flavors. Sometimes coffee professionals may refer to a “bold” cup of coffee to describe a cup with higher strength due to an increased coffee-to-water ratio – but this is technically incorrect.

Boldness doesn’t describe how you brew a cup of coffee but rather describes its flavors. The flavors in bold coffee will have a higher acidity flavor. It takes on a brighter color and creates a clear, rich sensation on the tongue when you drink it.

It is defined by a dominating base and intense upper notes and is generally best enjoyed with a small amount of cream and no milk. Many varieties of bold coffee are sold in different coffee stores and sources from different regions of the world.

However, the main attribute of any bold coffee is that the beans are very darkly roasted. However, while the flavors and aromas may vary from cup to cup, it is important to note that boldness doesn’t refer to strength.

Is Bold Coffee Stronger?

Photo of a dark colored cup with musceled arm design, with smoke on dark brown table with black background

Strong coffee refers to the extraction and brewing method used to create a cup of coffee. Primarily, strength is defined by the grounds-to-water ratio, where the higher the ratio, the more concentrated the extraction and, therefore, the stronger the coffee.

The strength or weakness of a cup of coffee depends entirely on the drinker’s preferences. A high concentration of coffee grounds will produce a strongly brewed cup of coffee with high viscosity. However, strong coffee may also take on a more bitter taste and higher caffeine levels.

Strong coffee is not defined by the coffee beans’ roast, while bold coffee is. The darker roast means that the cup of coffee you’re drinking has more intense flavors with high acidity and brightness. Bold beans create bold coffee, and you can use several different brewing methods to prepare it.

Bold vs. Regular Coffee

Image of two cups filled with coffee on the table

Regular coffee does not have any specific type of roast to define its flavor, but you can adjust its strength by changing the coffee to water concentration. But, some may use darker roasts of beans, but their aromatic smells and flavors are considered mild.

A regular cup of coffee will create a creamy aftertaste, which makes it popular among most coffee drinkers. Regular coffee can also be drunk at any time of day without making your stomach feel heavy or acidic. It is brewed at the strength that the drinker prefers.

Bold coffee takes on the distinctive smoky flavor of its dark roasted beans, which may differ according to the brewing method. You can brew a bold cup of coffee to be lighter or stronger, but it will still inherit the roast’s strong wooden, smoky flavors, which create a rich aftertaste.

Furthermore, bold coffee should be drunk in the mornings and never on an empty stomach due to its high acidity.

Bold vs. Rich vs. Strong vs. Full-Bodied Coffee

There are a few terms that “bold” may be conflated with when used to describe a cup of coffee, namely “rich”, “strong,” or “full-bodied coffee. Let’s look at these phrases and what each of them means to distinguish them and curtail any confusion over what each of them means.

Flavors, body, or acidity mostly characterize rich coffees. These characteristics are commonly considered to be a consequence of using darker roasts, but light roasts can also take on high levels of acidity and can still have a “rich” body.

It is possible to have a light-roasted coffee with rich and fruity profiles and juicy acidity. So, a dark roast and a light roast can both be rich and provide a satisfying fullness in flavor, body, or acidity.

On the other hand, strong coffee simply means that the coffee has a higher brew strength. Therefore, it refers exclusively to the brewing process. You can make a strong cup of coffee with any roast by simply using a higher coffee-to-water ratio.

 It refers to a higher concentration of beverages. For example, an espresso will be considered a strong cup of coffee regardless of the roast because it is brewed with a very high coffee-to-water ratio, compressing and infusing all of the coffee beans into a very small amount of water.

Full-bodied coffee refers to the coffee’s thickness or texture and is often associated with rich, strong, or bold coffee. However, “full-bodied” actually describes the weight or viscosity of the coffee and how it feels in the mouth when you drink it.


Bold is a confusing descriptor that is used by coffee professionals, which is too often thought to mean “rich”, “strong”, or “full-bodied”. But a bold cup of coffee is defined by flavors and aromas inherited from the dark roasted beans that it is brewed with.

The intense, roasty, carbonyl, smokey flavors in a bold cup of coffee do not necessarily mean that it has a fuller, stronger quality, and it is important to distinguish between these various attributes to enjoy the best cup of coffee that suits your preferences.