Most of us are too busy to worry about how much caffeine is in coffee. However, if you’ve never checked it out then you could be missing a trick.
Finding the perfect morning pick-me-up can be the difference between improved productivity and, well, not feeling human for most of the day. Everyone is different, however, so it’s important to find the right amount of caffeine for you.
Before we get stuck into the figures, let’s think about why so many of us are keen to have caffeine available to us at all times.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that is present in coffee, tea, cacao plants. It’s also found in other products such as coffee, some breakfast cereals, and even medications such as painkillers and skin creams.
When you consume caffeine, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and it then stimulates your brain and central nervous system. This helps to reduce tiredness and can make you feel more alert.
What Are the Effects of Caffeine?
Although stimulants are often frowned upon, caffeine is seen as one of the good guys. This is due to the fact that it is considered safe for most healthy adults in moderation.
Some of the more common potential benefits of caffeine include the following:
When consumed at a high enough dose, caffeine has been shown to increase alertness and reduce tiredness.
However, caffeine should only be considered a short-term solution and not a substitute for sleep.
Improved Athletic Performance
Caffeine can be used to increase physical endurance capacity, performance levels, and help reduce the feeling of exertion.
Improved Weight Management
Caffeine can help people trying to maintain or lose weight. Firstly, caffeine is an appetite suppressant. This means it can help people to feel less hungry when dieting. Secondly, caffeine can increase thermogenesis, meaning the body generates more heat and burns more calories.
This all sounds awesome, but there is the small issue of overdoing things. One dose doesn’t fit all. Too small a dose and you’ll miss out on the benefits. Too high a dose and you could feel rather jittery for a while. This is why it’s useful to know how much caffeine is in coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
You should also be aware of some potentially negative side effects of caffeine consumption. These include anxiety, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, stomach irritation, headaches, and chest pains. People with health conditions should be cautious when consuming caffeine.
How Does Caffeine work?
Although millions of people around the world enjoy its benefits, most don’t understand how caffeine makes them feel more alert.
When you’re awake and active, the neurons in your brain are constantly creating something called adenosine that attaches itself to adenosine receptors.
When a large enough amount of adenosine has attached and been detected, your brain understands that it’s time to relax and unwind.
This process occurs over the entire waking day, which is why you’ll feel more tired as the hours pass and you’ve spent more time being active.
However, caffeine also attaches itself to these receptors, blocking adenosine from being able to do so. This means that your brain doesn’t detect the adenosine and, therefore, doesn’t realise it is time to feel tired.
How Much Caffeine Is in Coffee?
The levels of caffeine in coffee can vary depending on the processing of the product, method of preparation, and brewing time.
Caffeine content is measured in milligrams (mg) per millilitres (mL) or fluid ounces (oz.) which also means the amount you consume will depend on how big your cup is.
- Brewed Coffee (237 mL / 8 oz.): 95-165 mg of caffeine
- Brewed Decaf (237 mL / 8 oz.): 2-5 mg of caffeine
- Espresso (30 mL / 1 oz.): 47-64 mg of caffeine
- Espresso Decaf (30 mL / 1 oz.): 0 mg of caffeine
- Instant (237 mL / 8 oz.): 63 mg of caffeine
- Instant Decaf (237 mL / 8 oz.): 2 mg of caffeine
- Latte or Mocha (237 mL / 8 oz.): 63-126 mg of caffeine
*Reference: Mayo Clinic
There are a few interesting things going on here. Firstly, a brewed coffee will contain more caffeine per mL than instant. You’ll also notice that decaf coffee does contain small amounts of caffeine but this is unlikely to be anything to worry about for most people.
In terms of getting the biggest bang for your money, an espresso is loaded with caffeine for a small quantity of liquid. This makes it a perfect choice for people who don’t have much time to spare.
As a point of reference, here are the figures for a couple of other kinds of drinks.
- Cola (237 mL / 8 oz.): 24-46 mg of caffeine
- Energy Drinks (237 mL / 8 oz.): 27-164 mg of caffeine
Looking at this, you’re better off consuming coffee if you want a caffeine hit. It’s the more natural option and, let’s face it, it tastes way better.
Why Do Caffeine Levels Change in Coffee?
Although we can get a general idea of the amount of caffeine we’re consuming via our daily cups of coffee, there are some other factors to consider:
- Coffee blend.
- Brewing technique.
One of the first things to consider is the type of coffee you are using because it will alter the caffeine content. A finer grind size will increase the amount of surface area meaning that more caffeine is extracted during the brewing process. On the contrary, a thicker grind size results in less surface area for the same weight. This results in a lower amount of coffee extraction.
Once you’ve decided on your grind size, you’ll need to consider which roast to opt for. A dark roast coffee has a strong flavour when brewed but will contain less caffeine than light or medium roasts. This is because coffee beans lose caffeine during the roasting process.
The source of coffee also plays a role in its caffeine content. Coffee beans react to their environment over time as they grow. Caffeine is a natural pesticide and, therefore, coffee beans that grow in areas with more insects will adapt over time and contain higher levels of caffeine for protection from bugs.
After you’ve decided which coffee suits you best, the brewing technique you choose will also affect the caffeine levels in your cup.
Take a look at the following brewing methods to see how average caffeine levels are affected per 237 mL / 8 oz. when using the same blend and quantity of coffee:
- Drip or Filter: 145 mg of caffeine
- French Press: 108 mg of caffeine
- Percolated: 200 mg of caffeine
- Boiled (Turkish or Greek): 200 mg of caffeine
*Reference: Caffeine Informer
- Advanced showerhead technology ensures flavour is fully extracted from your coffee grains.
- Eliminate the need to buy costly paper filters as this coffee machine has a permanent filter that can be removed and washed.
- Make up to ten cups of coffee at once with a 1.25 Litre capacity glass carafe or choose to set your coffee maker to brew only one, two or three cups.
Furthermore, brewing temperature will have an impact on the amount of caffeine in your cup of coffee. Hotter water extracts more caffeine from coffee beans. That means you’ll have a lot more caffeine per mL in your hot brewed coffee than a cold-brewed variety.
Different kinds of coffee tend to come in different sizes. While a double espresso may contain over 120 mg of caffeine, it may also be prepared in just 60 ml of water. On the contrary, to obtain the same caffeine hit from coffee brewed in a French press, you’d be taking in much more water.
How Much Caffeine Can You Have Each Day?
Ultimately, everyone is different. If you’re new to the world of caffeine then it’s a good idea to start with a low dose and work your way up.
This will allow you to test your tolerance to caffeine and hopefully avoid some of the less desirable side effects that can occur if you overdo it.
Generally, up to 400 mg of caffeine is considered to be safe for most healthy adults. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should consume this much regularly.
Nevertheless, caffeine can be a wonderful thing if you find your ideal level of consumption. If you’re already there, enjoy.