Nespresso - Meaning of Intensity Rating.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) describes the intensity of coffee as below. 

"Coffee shall exhibit a brew strength, measured in Total Dissolved Solids, of 11.5 to 13.5 grams per liter, corresponding to 1.15 to 1.35 “percent” on the SCA Brewing Control Chart, resulting from a solubles extraction yield of 18 to 22 percent."

Above definition doesn’t help you as a consumer to identify without a measuring tool if a coffee is stronger than another. It is perfect for professionals as they quantify in a scientific way a coffee’s strength.

So it goes for an official definition. Different coffee drinkers will identify as intense or strong according to different cultural and personal perceptions of it. As Perfect Daily Grind puts it, in some countries an intense coffee means a bitter one (think of Latin America) or an acidic one will be thought of weaker than others (like for Italy). Others will consider a coffee intense if it has a heavy body, or a crema or an intense aftertaste or if the caffeine “kick” it gives you is strong.

How Nespresso defines intensity?

"The intensity is defined by a coffee’s degree of roasting, its body and its bitterness. In addition the intensity is due to the concentration of the coffee. It does not refer to the amount of caffeine found in the coffee."


The caffeine concentration depends partly on the amount of coffee used to prepare the coffee, and the variety of green coffee used in the capsule.

The Robusta origin contains an average of 2.4% whereas the Arabica origins contain approx. 1.2% of caffeine. Decaf capsules contain less than 0.1% of caffeine.

Nespresso intensity rating goes from 1 to 13. Coffee below 6, included, as “not intense“, and above 8 as “intense“. Intensity for Nespresso is a mix of how much coffee is concentrated, degree of how it’s roasted, its body and it's bitterness. 


So a heavier body, bitter and with a higher percentage of solids in it is what Nespresso considers an “intense coffee”. And if you think of the most intense capsules on the Nespresso scale like Kazaar or Napoli, it makes perfect sense as all of them fit this definition.

What do you think defines an “intense coffee”? Do you agree with the SCA or Nespresso’s definition? What do you think it’s the most intense coffee capsule?


Global Cart LK has the largest variety of Nespresso Capsules in Sri Lanka. Why not order a few different varieties and experience various intensity of each Nespresso flavour. 

 nespresso intensity chart sri lanka

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