Working out how much caffeine is in your coffee is actually a lot harder than it needs to be. Whether you are trying to conceive, need to cut back your caffeine intake, or are just curious, here’s how to work out how much caffeine is in your cup of coffee, as well as some common side effects of drinking too much coffee.
How Much Caffeine Is in Coffee?
The exact caffeine content of your coffee depends on numerous factors, including serving size, type of coffee beans, type of roasting, plus the type of coffee and how much of it is used.
Putting aside all of these variables, if you are looking for an average figure, a standard cup of coffee has around 95mg of caffeine. However, the actual amount in your mug right now can vary anywhere between less than 3mg for decaf and over 400mg of caffeine for a large coffee in a high street chain coffee shop.
Here’s how to get a better estimate of the number of milligrams of caffeine in your coffee serving.
I always forget that my parents put 3x the normal amount of caffeine in their coffee I am SHAKING
— río (@rionachcaitlin) May 24, 2021
Quick to make, instant coffee is freeze-dried and requires no brewing. You simply add hot water, and it’s ready to drink. It also contains lower levels of caffeine than other types of caffeinated coffee, making it a practical choice if you are looking to reduce your caffeine intake. Your average cup with one heaped teaspoon of instant coffee will contain between 30mg-90mg of caffeine.
Made by slowly pouring hot water over ground coffee beans, filter coffees are served long and typically at breakfast.
Once again, the exact amount of caffeine can vary hugely, depending on how much ground coffee you use, plus the type of coffee. On average, a typical cup of filter coffee will contain around 70-140mg per cup of caffeine, with official estimates putting a 178g (8 fluid ounce) cup at 71.2mg of caffeine per serving.
Small and powerful, espresso coffees typically contain more caffeine than instant and filter coffees compared to like. However, as espressos are served much shorter, you end up with less caffeine per serving, approximately 63mg of caffeine for a single espresso. However, if you double up and go for a double shot espresso, you get twice as much caffeine and a stronger kick.
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Not all decaf coffee brands are completely caffeine-free. The amount of caffeine is fairly negligible, though, at around 0-7mg of caffeine in one cup depending on the brand and type of decaf coffee, as well as the decaffeination process used.
If you are trying to cut down on caffeine or cut it out altogether, make sure that you pay close attention to the amounts of caffeine in different brands of decaf coffee to find the lowest quantity of caffeine without compromising too much on flavour.
Coffee Shop Coffees
If you’re out having a coffee in a high street coffee shop, chances are the amount of caffeine will be considerably different to the amounts you would have in a cup of coffee brewed at home. For a start, most of the main coffee shops serve much larger cups of coffee than you would typically make for yourself.
Unsurprisingly, with larger serving size, you’re more likely to consume more caffeine. Also, certain main brand coffee shops have a higher than average coffee caffeine content, which can be great for a quick afternoon pick-me-up but less suitable if you are looking to reduce your caffeine intake.
If you like to enjoy a latte, cappuccino, or any hot or cold caffeinated beverages made with one shot of espresso, then your coffee will contain the same amount of caffeine as a standard espresso serving. While this is around 63mg, you may want to ask in-store to get an exact caffeine content figure in milligrams per shot for your favourite coffee blend if you are carefully counting your caffeine intake.
Other Factors to Consider
Aside from the type of coffee, you should also consider the following factors that can alter the caffeine content in your cup of coffee.
- Type of coffee beans and blends – if you are sensitive to how much caffeine is in your coffee, or are looking for an extra caffeine kick, try changing your coffee beans. Robusta coffee beans, for example, are less popular and much mellower in flavour than the more famous Arabica coffee beans. Nonetheless, Robusta coffee beans contain double the concentration of caffeine found in Arabica beans. Therefore, switching to a 100% Arabica blend could reduce your caffeine consumption considerably.
- Type of coffee roasts – while dark roasts are preferred for their depth of flavour, they contain less caffeine than lighter ones – making a dark roast a great way to consume a little less caffeine without compromising on taste. While the roasting process itself doesn’t alter the caffeine content of your coffee beans, it does reduce density. A same-sized scoop of dark and light beans will give you more lightly roasted beans as they are denser than darker beans that have been roasted for longer.
- Serving size – if you have a tall coffee, you’re going to have more caffeine than a shorter coffee, unless you opt for a single shot topped up with hot water, like an americano, or a cappuccino or latte, that is topped up with milk.
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How Much Caffeine Is Safe?
A lot of people worry about consuming too much caffeine. Aside from cups of coffee, you’ll also find caffeine in energy drinks, tea, chocolate, guarana berries and some supplements and diet formulas such as protein bars and weight loss pills. Once you can work out how much caffeine you consume on an average day, it can be helpful to see whether or not you’re within the recommended guidelines.
Note that the recommended maximum daily caffeine consumption is 200mg if you are pregnant, which equates to approximately two mugs of coffee per day. For other healthy adults, there is no set upper limit as such, although the recommended average is around 400mg of caffeine per day.
Bear in mind that different people have different reactions to caffeine. For some, a shot of espresso in the afternoon means a sleepless night, whereas others quite happily enjoy an after-dinner coffee and still sleep soundly just hours later.
It is, however, important to respect your body’s caffeine tolerances. If you begin to experience any of the following effects of caffeine, it’s time to reduce the number of cups of coffee you get through.
Possible Side Effects of Too Much Coffee
Coffee and tea are extremely popular beverages, and caffeine is renowned for its ability to provide both a mental and physical boost. However, if you drink too much coffee in a day, you’re likely to experience some of the following side effects of caffeine, even more so if you are not accustomed to consuming high levels of caffeine.
Increased Stress Levels
Drinking too much caffeine in coffee can lead to increased anxiety. Caffeine helps to keep us alert, but too much caffeine can result in nervousness and stress. If you drink a lot of coffee and notice you are often jittery and anxious, try cutting back and see if you see an improvement.
Increased Heart Rate
Consuming large amounts of coffee can increase the heart rate for some coffee drinkers, while others are less affected.
omfg this iced coffee i bought at the store has WAY too much caffeine in it 300mg per serving yes i am jittery
— indycar marketing department (@thiemrossi) May 19, 2021
Caffeine can continue to keep you alert several hours after consumption. While not all coffee drinkers have problems sleeping, if you drink a lot of coffee, especially late on in the day, and have trouble sleeping, you may want to work out just how much caffeine you’re consuming and consider cutting back.
After a coffee-fuelled boost of productivity, you may suddenly feel tired. It is a common occurrence if you drink a lot of coffee to boost your energy levels. When the caffeine leaves your system, you end up with rebound fatigue. It can even make you feel tired the day after your coffee binge. So enjoy your coffee but in moderation.
The caffeine in coffee can have a laxative effect, so if you find that you need to go to the toilet more often when you drink a lot of coffee, you may need to drink a little less.
It is honestly astonishing how much caffeine is ruining my life right now. I'm so much fucking dumber when I don't have enough caffeine in my system. It's easiest to see it when I play League. Like I'm somehow worse now than I was back before I started drinking coffee.
— Corey (@VendettaVera) May 25, 2021
Alternatives to Regular Coffee
If you’ve decided you need to reduce how much caffeine you consume, here are some popular alternatives with lower amounts of caffeine compared to your standard serving of coffee.
- Decaf coffee – if you aren’t ready to give up completely on coffee, switching to decaf will help you to reduce your caffeine levels substantially.
- Green tea – for caffeine productivity hit without overdoing it. Green tea is a great choice. A standard serving contains around 30-50mg of caffeine, around half the amount of a regular cup of coffee.
- Hot chocolate – replace a latte or cappuccino with a hot chocolate for around 7mg of caffeine per serving instead of 63mg of caffeine.
- Chicory coffee – going caffeine-free but still want a hot brew that you can enjoy? Chicory coffee is a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute.
- Hot water and lemon – another good choice for detoxing; lemon water can also work a little like coffee, naturally getting your digestive system going in the morning.
If you are drinking too much caffeine and want to reduce the amount rather than cutting out coffee altogether, try some of the above drinks with the occasional cup of coffee. Instead of opting for coffee drinks with high caffeine levels, switch to blends with lower milligrams of caffeine or top up your espresso with hot water, rather than pouring a full cup of filter coffee and avoid double shot beverages.
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Consuming the Right Amount of Caffeine Does Matter
It isn’t that easy to work out how much caffeine is in coffee exactly, as there are many factors to consider. Hopefully, you now have a rough estimate of how much caffeine you consume per day. While there is no set upper limit, if you are experiencing some of the possible side effects of too many cups of coffee, you should consider changing your drinks to other varieties with lower caffeine content.
Are you a coffee drinker? How much caffeine do you consume a day? Let us know in the comments section below.