Everything You Need to Know About Coffee’s Caffeine Content

You’re probably aware that your morning pick-me-up contains caffeine - but how much, exactly? Does the caffeine content of coffee vary by preparation method? What about decaf? We’re here to answer all your questions about how much of the magic molecule known as caffeine is really found in your cup of coffee.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a substance that occurs naturally in plants, including the coffee plant. In humans, caffeine consumption can increase your level of alertness and “pep” by stimulating the central nervous system. The energy boost that this results in is why so many enjoy a morning cup of coffee to help get ready for the day!

Outside of coffee, caffeine is also found naturally in cocoa, tea, yerba mate, guarana, and many other plants, so you may be consuming caffeine without even realizing it.

How much caffeine is there in coffee?

Let’s start with a typical cup of brewed Arabica coffee. A cup (8oz) contains roughly 80-100 milligrams of caffeine on average, but the amount of caffeine can vary significantly based on the coffee type, brewing method, and other factors. 

Aside from those variables, the amount of caffeine will also change, of course, depending on the size of the cup you’re enjoying, as many coffee drinkers may drink a larger serving than 8 oz, and/or more than one serving per day.

Does the amount of caffeine in coffee vary by preparation method?

Yes, different methods of making your coffee can change the amount of caffeine it contains. A shot of espresso, for example, contains about 60 milligrams of caffeine. That can seem counterintuitive at first - isn’t espresso more intense than brewed coffee? It is, but the typical serving size is also much smaller - usually just 1oz.

For this reason, if you’re consuming an espresso-based drink like a latte or macchiato made with a single shot, you may actually be getting less caffeine than you would compared to brewed coffee. Ordering a double shot? You’re getting about 120 mg of caffeine, compared to the average 80-100 mg in 8 oz of brewed coffee.

What about Pour Over, French Press, or Cold Brew?

Different preparation methods can also slightly change the caffeine content of your cup, but not as drastically as espresso vs. brewed coffee. Pour Over coffee is at the higher end, with about 170 mg in an 8 oz cup, or roughly double the caffeine content of brewed coffee.

Cold Brew is another method that can produce a more caffeinated cup compared to brewed coffee, with about 180 mg of caffeine. 

At the other end of the spectrum, using a French Press can produce a cup of coffee with caffeine content at the lower end, with 80-100 mg in an 8 oz cup. If you want more - or less - caffeine to suit your personal preference, it may make sense to tweak your preparation method accordingly.

How does the caffeine content of coffee compare to Matcha tea?

As another popular source of caffeine, many may want to see how much caffeine we’re really getting out of a cup of Matcha in comparison to coffee. A typical serving of Matcha (2-4 grams) has 40-170 mg of caffeine. With this range in mind, a small serving of Matcha contains less caffeine than a typical 8 oz cup of coffee, but larger or multiple servings of Matcha can contain more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee.

What about Arabica vs. Robusta coffee?

You’re much more likely to encounter Arabica coffee (70% of worldwide production) than Robusta (30% of worldwide production) at cafes or the grocery store, but there are also places that prefer to use Robusta coffee. For example, many places that serve Vietnamese Coffee (which is typically brewed directly into your cup onto a bed of condensed milk) will use Robusta beans! Should you happen to be drinking Robusta coffee, note that it has about twice as much caffeine as Arabica.

What about roast level? Does that affect caffeine?

Roast level does affect caffeine content, but not as much as other factors do. It’s a common misconception that darker roasted coffees contain more caffeine, however, it’s actually the opposite! The darker the roast, the longer the beans are in the roaster, meaning caffeine is being burned away. While a light or dark roast definitely has a big difference in flavor, the total caffeine content is still fairly similar when compared side-by-side.

Does “decaf” coffee contain caffeine?

Yes, decaffeinated coffee contains small, trace amounts of caffeine. The decaffeination process removes roughly 97% of the caffeine in coffee beans, leaving a little bit behind: just 5-7 mg, depending on preparation. Not zero, but still much less than the caffeine content of a cup of regular coffee, or even a can of soda (which usually contains 30-40 mg). 

For comparison’s sake, you would need to drink five cups of decaf in order to consume the same amount of caffeine as found in a single cup of regular coffee. For coffee drinkers who want to control their caffeine intake, Klatch Coffee offers a selection of decaf coffee decaffeinated using popular and more ethical Mountain Water and Swiss Water processes.

Are there any health benefits to caffeine?

While we are not doctors and do not claim to be medical professionals, we’ve also done some extensive research to compile this information. Based on our research, we’ve found that moderate caffeine consumption is generally perceived as a net positive, with benefits including:

  • Increased alertness
  • Improved ability to concentrate
  • Improved sports performance in endurance sports 

While research is still evolving, studies suggest that moderate consumption of caffeine via coffee may even help prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

And are there any downsides?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting consumption to 400 mg / day - that’s equivalent to five 8 oz cups of brewed coffee as used in our example. Excess caffeine consumption could lead to:

  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn

If you feel like you need to lower your intake, consider a decaffeinated coffee that still provides the flavor notes you’re accustomed to enjoying, and make sure to consider other sources of caffeine that you’re currently consuming, such as soda or tea!

This article does not contain health or medical advice, as we are not and do not claim to be medical professionals. If you’re looking for answers specific to your health in regards to caffeine, please contact your physician.