What Does Bold Mean on a Coffee Maker?

In short: you turning on “bold” means your coffee maker will brew strong and more flavorful coffee.

How does your coffee maker do this? Easy. It just slows down the flow of water through coffee grounds. 

Which means longer brewing time, more extraction of coffee flavor, and more caffeine!

How Does the Bold Setting Affect Your Coffee’s Taste?

I’ve tried the bold setting on several different coffee maker brands (we’ll explore each later on). I noticed a stronger and more complex flavor profile. Almost like a “kick” is added to the flavor.

You know how some coffee companies advertise fruity or chocolate notes in their coffee? Using the bold setting is a great way to emphasize these promised flavor profiles.

You can choose the “bold” option when you’re having a rough morning. Stronger coffee with higher caffeine content will give you a boost to start your day!

Drawbacks to the Bold Setting

Not everyone is a fan of bold coffee though. If you avoid dark, bitter, or strong coffee—then proceed with caution!

I’m the type of person who enjoys coffee both with cream/milk and black. So depending on my mood, I’ll choose the bold setting.

I’ll also decide whether to choose bold depending on these factors: type of coffee beans, type of roast, the amount of coffee grounds, grind size, and brew temperature.

As you can see: the bold setting is just another factor to consider when brewing coffee.

How Does the Bold Setting Work with Different Coffee Makers?

We answered “what does bold mean on a coffee maker?” in a general sense. But the truth is – different companies have different bold features that come with their coffee makers.

You might see the bold setting as a button that says “BOLD”. This might be next to a button that says “REGULAR”. Here it’s pretty easy to see the difference and how they work.

But other times you might see a touch screen or dial setting. And it might be called something else entirely. Look out for names such as “strong” or “rich”.

Fancy, expensive coffee makers might not have any of these simple options. They might let you choose from a wide range of brewing temperatures, pressure, and times. Then it’s up to you to figure out what combo brews “bold” coffee.

Let’s go through several common coffee maker brands and how they provide a “bold” setting.

Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach bold strength option

Hamilton Beach may either have a “bold” button or a brew strength option. The brew strength option then lets you select from different strength options. “Bold” is the strongest option.

The coffee maker automatically handles the brewing time and water flow for you.

Cuisinart

Cuisinart bold button

You probably came to this page because you have a Cuisinart coffee maker! I often think of Cuisinart’s “bold” button when it comes to bold coffee.

Simply press to enable bold coffee and press again to disable.

Keurig

Keurig strong button

Keurig coffee makers come with a “strong” button. They advertise that this option will produce a “fuller, bolder cup.” 

You can treat the “strong” button just like the “bold” button on other coffee machines.

Ninja

Ninja rich button

Ninja also calls their bold option something else: “rich”. You can select “rich” either via a button or a dial. The dial usually comes with at least 5 to 6 different strength options.

Which Coffee Beans Work Best With the Bold Setting?

As I mentioned before: the type of coffee bean influences your overall coffee flavor profile. 

I suggest you try out different beans to see what matches your tastes. In general though, I would check out dark roast and Robusta beans.

Dark Roast Coffee Beans

These coffee beans are roasted for longer and at hotter temperatures than other coffee beans. You’ll get a more intense flavor and less acidity. Which makes them great for the bold setting on your coffee maker.

Examples of dark roast coffee beans include: Italian, French, and espresso roasts.

Robusta Coffee Beans

I suggest checking out blends that include Robusta coffee beans. My opinion: pure Robusta coffee grounds are often quite bitter for the bold option.

But if for example—you combine Robusta and Arabica coffee beans in a bean blend—you’ll get a complex and balanced flavor profile. 

Vietnamese and Turkish coffees are common examples of Robusta coffees.

What Grind Size is Best for the Bold Setting?

I suggest a fine to medium-fine grind size.

The bold setting causes water to extract from coffee grounds for a longer period of time. Finer grind size means there’s also more surface area for water to extract coffee flavors from.

Again: you should try out different grind sizes to see what works best for your taste buds. I like fine grind size, but my friends prefer medium grind size AND adding cream to their coffee.

Check out burr grinders (we prefer conical burr grinders) – since these will let you control grind size and grind consistency for optimal extraction.

Last tip: please use fresh coffee grounds for the best results!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does the bold setting use more coffee grounds?

No! The point of the bold setting is to slow down water flow and brewing time. You get more extraction from the same amount of coffee grounds.

You could add more coffee grounds to get stronger coffee too, if you’d like. But it’s not needed for “bold” coffee.

Does the bold setting make your coffee more bitter?

It can. Depending on the type of your coffee beans and the grind size, the bold setting might over extract the coffee grounds. This leads to a higher chance of bitter taste.

I suggest using a coarser grind size or less coffee grounds to prevent bitter coffee. I would also try diluting with milk and cream. This all depends on your personal tastes though.

Does the bold setting cause more caffeine in your coffee?

Yes. Your coffee maker will extract more flavors AND caffeine from the coffee grounds.

But remember: your choice of coffee beans and the amount of coffee grounds are the 2 factors that determine how much caffeine there will be.

I personally notice the “bold” setting has a bigger difference on flavor profile than on caffeine effects.

Lexi Han

Lexi is happily married to Bryan and works as an internet marketing consultant. As a lifelong believer of frugal living, she constantly strives to satisfy Bryan’s high-quality food and drink cravings while on a budget. Her favorites include (discounted) pumpkin spice lattes and Costco polish dogs.

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