Whether you take your coffee with cream, your cappuccino with an extra espresso shot, or your latte with added vanilla, you are here because, like us, you absolutely love coffee. No matter how you make it, there is something addicting about the brew.
Literally, it’s addicting.
It’s called caffeine, and it is what gives coffee its somewhat bitter flavor. It is also responsible for that little boost of energy you get after a sip or two when you don’t want to keep your eyes open and adulting seems impossible.
Caffeine naturally occurs in coffee beans and therefore coffee, but do you really have any idea how much caffeine is in your coffee? Read on to learn the basics of caffeine and how it positively and negatively affects your body in this all-inclusive guide.
Does Coffee Have Caffeine?
The quick answer to the question, does coffee have caffeine? is yes; it contains the glorious stimulant. Exactly how much caffeine is in your cup is going to depend on a few different factors including the type of coffee bean, how much coffee is brewed, the way coffee beans are roasted, the type of coffee (or way it is served) and the serving size.
Types of Coffee Beans
There are two main types of plants used for coffee including Coffea arabica, or Arabica, and Coffea canefora, or Robusta. Robusta coffees generally have about twice the caffeine of Arabica coffees. However, Arabica coffees are most often better-tasting and of higher-quality.
Robusta has a deep, earthy and robust flavor that might not appeal to everyone, but it is quite inexpensive. Arabica beans produce a coffee with a much milder flavor that is less caffeinated and more expensive. Oftentimes, Robusta is mixed with Arabica to create a full-bodied, extra-caffeinated coffee.
How Much Coffee is Brewed
One of the easier factors to understand about caffeine content is how much coffee you brew. Simply put, the more coffee you add to the filter, the higher the caffeine content in your brewed cup. Easy, right?
The Type of Coffee Roast
Though contrary to popular notion, dark-roasted coffee beans actually have less caffeine than their lightly-roasted counterparts. However, because dark-roasted beans are lighter in weight than light-roasted beans, it takes more dark-roasted beans in order to brew the same amount of coffee. Are you following me here?
So, let’s say you’ve measured a tablespoon of ground dark-roast beans and a tablespoon of light-roast beans to brew. The tablespoon of dark-roast coffee actually has more coffee beans in it than the light-roast tablespoon because of their post-roasting difference in bean size. Therefore, dark-roast coffees of the same brewing size (i.e. one tablespoon in the filter) do have more caffeine than light-roast coffees.
If you need to go back and read that again, don’t worry, we did too!
How Much Caffeine in Espresso Beans?
Espresso beans are no more than darkly-roasted coffee beans, so we thought we’d touch on espresso bean caffeine content within the “Coffee Roasts” section. Espresso differs from coffee in the way it is brewed—by forcing hot water through ground espresso beans.
The same amount of ground coffee is used to make an eight-ounce cup as is used to make a one-ounce shot of espresso. Therefore, espresso is a smaller, more concentrated version of coffee.
The Type of Coffee Served
This is where things can get really out of control and things like extra espresso shots or double milk can make the caffeine content of your beverage fluctuate. Don’t worry, we will include a table for easy reference.
The average eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee will yield anywhere between 85 and 200 mg of caffeine, depending on the first few factors we mentioned above. It is when we begin to personalized our coffees like with a double-shot mocha latte that throws off all averages.
The key point here is to remember that increasing the number of espresso shots in your drink increases the caffeine content. It also helps to know what is in your coffee drink, so we made a short list of the most popular ones and their ingredients.
- Cappuccino Four- to five-ounce cup with 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk
- Traditional Macchiato Small serving cup of one-ounce shot of espresso and a dollop of foamed milk
- Caffe Latte Eight- to ten-ounce cup with two one-ounce shots of espresso and six or more ounces of steamed milk
- Americano Eight-ounce cup with three one-ounce shots of espresso and five ounces of hot water
- Caffe Mocha Four- to five-ounce cup with one to two one-ounce shots of espresso, steamed milk, foamed milk, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream (optional)
Here is a useful picture to showcase 28 different coffee recipes. You can hover over the picture for a closer look.
It goes without reason that the more coffee you drink, the more caffeine you will consume. We’ve based our caffeine content on an eight-ounce cup of coffee. However, you can safely assume that a 16-ounce cup would offer double the caffeine.
Espresso, on the other hand, is generally served in one-ounce shots. Depending on the same factors above, the average caffeine in espresso is about 64-70 mg. You can therefore deduce that unaltered (no extra shots) espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and café lattes roughly offer 70 mg of caffeine.
How to Measure Caffeine
With six mg of caffeine in a single coffee bean and 13.5 mg caffeine per gram of ground coffee, a little simple math can help you figure out your cup’s exact content. However, if you’re like us and resent using math on a daily basis, have no fear.
As promised, here is our table about coffee and caffeine content. We have added decaffeinated coffee and a few non-coffee drinks for comparison purposes.
|Drink||Size in Ounces||Caffeine Content in mg|
|Brewed Black Tea||8||47|
What is Caffeine?
Now that we have a pretty good idea of the amount of caffeine in our beloved beverages, let’s go into more detail about caffeine and its effects on the body. Caffeine occurs naturally in over 60 plant varieties, but it can also be man-made. Synthetic caffeine is often used in medicines, energy shots and certain foods.
Caffeine is well-documented as a nervous system stimulant. It works because its chemical structure is similar to that of adenosine, a hormone that builds up in the brain over the course of the day and makes us drowsy at night.
Because of their similar structures, caffeine is able to bind to adenosine receptors in the brain suppressing its build-up. As a result, you generally feel more alert, focused and energized. I’m guessing this is the main reason most of us began drinking coffee in the first place.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it increases urination releasing extra salt and water from the body. You will also find that it increases blood pressure and can interfere with calcium absorption.
All of these effects on the body, both good and bad, peak between one and two hours after consumption. However, they can last for up to six hours post-consumption.
Benefits of Caffeine Consumption
As a coffee lover, I want to cover the caffeine “pros” right off the bat. Of course, it wakes us up and gives us energy, but did you know it also improves mood by promoting the release of noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine—all the feel-good hormones in the brain? Personally, I thought the little boost of happiness simply came from not being so tired anymore.
A few other benefits of caffeine include:
You can learn more about the healthy benefits of drinking coffee here.
Side Effects of Caffeine Consumption
Of course, there are always some “cons” to balance out the “pros”, and it is no different with caffeine intake. It is important to note that some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of it than others. However, experts agree it is safe for most to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day.
Just like the energy-boosting, wakefulness effects of caffeine, the unpleasant effects can also last up to six hours. Oftentimes, you will feel these side effects when consuming too much caffeine and they can include:
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Insomnia—especially when consumed late in the day
- Dependency—you may find you need more caffeine to achieve the same amount of alertness over time. Quitting caffeine altogether can cause unpleasant effects.
- Dehydration from increased urination
- Increased stomach acidity
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shakiness and dizziness
Should You Avoid Caffeine?
Certain individuals may have conditions that make them extra-sensitive to the effects of caffeine and should avoid it. For example, if you already suffer from high blood pressure, consuming caffeine will increase your blood pressure even more. This can lead to more serious complications such as vision problems, stroke or even heart attack.
It is also a good idea to make sure any medications you are currently taking do not interact with caffeine. This could limit the effects of the medications or cause additional complications. A few other individuals who may want to limit or avoid caffeine intake include those who:
- are pregnant or nursing
- have sleep disorders
- suffer migraines or chronic headaches
- suffer from anxiety
- have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or stomach ulcers
- have irregular heart rhythms
- are children or teenagers
Coffee—Friend or Foe?
Legend has it that the goat herder, Kaldi first noted the effects of coffee beans after his goats ate them. The goats did not want to sleep and seemed to have boundless energy. Kaldi took the beans to a monastery where an abbot made a drink with them. It was here that coffee is thought to have been born.
The Arabian Peninsula was the starting point for cultivation and trade of coffee. Quickly, the beverage swept across Persia, Egypt, Syria and into Turkey. Before long, coffee made its way to Europe and eventually to New Amsterdam, or New York as we know it today.
Coffee houses began popping up and were known as places to engage in a variety of social activities while enjoying this mysterious black beverage. Coffee has been known as the “Wine of Araby” to those who adored it, and the “bitter invention of Satan” by those who feared it’s effects.
At one point, coffee was condemned by the clergy in Venice. It took Pope Clement VIII to finally sample it and give papal approval for the beverage to be reinstated.
It wasn’t until 1773, when King George III put a heavy tax on tea that coffee’s popularity began to soar in the US. This tax levy is what caused the revolt we now know to be the Boston Tea Party.
Cream and Sugar
The United States’ love affair with coffee and the effects of its caffeine have only grown over the centuries. Depending on where you are located, coffee has its own distinct vibe. For example, if you order a “coffee regular” in New York City, you will most likely receive a coffee with cream and sugar in it. Likewise, the same order in Chicago will probably yield anything that isn’t decaffeinated.
No matter how you take it, we can agree that coffee and its rich flavor, abundant variations, and benefits of caffeine content are here to stay. Personally, we couldn’t be happier.