Coffee is easily the most popular energizer across the world. Whether it’s powering through a busy workday or staying alert when it matters, coffee is always there for you. Coffee’s energizing power comes from its key factor: caffeine.
Caffeine is technically defined as a psychoactive drug because of how it affects the nervous system. Unlike other psychoactive drugs however, it is not regulated and readily available for both home and commercial use. This makes it the most widely consumed psychoactive drug.
What Is Caffeine?
Simply put, caffeine is a simulant and active part of coffee that works the central nervous system to keep you alert. On a chemical level, caffeine is a bitter, crystalline alkaloid that occurs naturally in various plants.
Caffeine is not only in coffee beans but also in tea, cacao (which is processed to make chocolate), and in the leaves and fruits of a few other plants. It is also in beverages like energy drinks and sodas. Coffee is still the most popular method of caffeine. People drank exactly 10 million tonnes of coffee beans globally in 2020 alone.
What Does It Do To The Body?
The body quickly absorbs caffeine almost right upon drinking and reaches the strongest effects after about 45 minutes. The most noticeable effect is making you alert and energized. This happens because of the way it behaves in the brain.
In the brain, caffeine binds with adenosine receptors and blocks the action of adenosine. Adenosine makes you feel sleepy and tired. So, by blocking its action, caffeine makes you alert. It also increases the amount of adrenaline in your blood and the production of certain neurochemicals. This notable effect on the brain is why it is classified as a psychoactive drug.
Apart from the central nervous system, caffeine also affects various other organ systems. Some of these include the heart, the kidneys, the blood, the muscles, etc. This has a ton of good and bad effects depending on the amount of it and a person’s medical and genetic history.
The desirable effects of caffeine consumption include alertness, increased attention span, increased physical energy, endurance, and metabolism. Some of the negative effects include anxiety, increased heart rate, dehydration, headaches, and energy crashes.
Does Caffeine Concentration Vary In Different Coffee Drinks?
The amount of caffeine in a coffee drink is determined by the type of bean, the type of roast, and the brewing method.
A major factor determining the concentration of your drink is the type of coffee bean used. There are two main commercial coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is less flavourful but has about double the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica. This is why Robusta is common for instant coffee.
The debate on which roast type has more caffeine can get confusing. Some people say dark roasts have more; others swear by light roast. Both are wrong though. The amount remains roughly the same across roasting profiles, but what changes is the weight of the bean.
Heat causes loss of mass. So, a kilo of dark roast has more beans than a kilo of light roast coffee. If you measure your beans by weight, light roasts have more caffeine. But, if you measure by volume, then dark roasts have more since the number of beans is more.
Which Coffee Drink Gives You The Most Energy?
Sometimes you drink coffee just to enjoy it, and sometimes it's a purely practical affair. For those times, it can be helpful to know which coffee preparation gives you the biggest caffeine kick.
Drip Coffee. Drip coffee or brewed coffee is what most of us are used to. This method involves steeping ground coffee in hot water and then filtering it using either a paper, cloth, or metal filter. One 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine.
Espresso- If we look at caffeine per unit volume, then espresso is the clear winner. A standard espresso shot of 1.5 oz has approximately 63 mg of caffeine. This high concentration is exactly why espresso is served in small quantities and can give such a rush of energy.
Instant Coffee- Instant coffee can be a lifesaver in a pinch but it doesn't have as much caffeine as you would expect. An 8 oz cup of instant coffee has about 62 mg.
Decaf Coffee- Despite its name, decaf coffee still has a small amount of caffeine. As per EU regulations, decaf coffee has less than 1 mg of caffeine but can have between 2-6 mg of caffeine in North America.
Cold Brew- Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee in room temperature water for 12-24 hours. This means that a lot of coffee is extracted and a 12 oz cup of cold brew can have between 150-240 mg of caffeine.
Overall, the amount of ground coffee used and the serving size of your drink will change the amount in your cup.
Which Café Drink Has The Most Caffeine?
Whether you prefer a cappuccino, macchiato, or a latte, you get the same amount, which is about 75 mg per cup. This can vary with drink size and some variations of a latte can have up to 120 mg.
The flat white might be the strongest though since it's made with a more concentrated shot of espresso, giving it 130 mg of caffeine in a fairly small drink. If you prefer cold coffee, cold brew gives or nitro brew gives you the most energy at 150-215 mg per serving.
How Much Caffeine Can You Drink In A Day?
An adult shouldn't consume more than 400 mg in a day. Excessive consumption of it can have negative side effects including heart palpitation, stomach ulcers, and dependence. Keep in mind that it is also in tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and sugary drinks.
Caffeine, like all things, is best enjoyed in moderation. Controlled and mindful consumption can help you get all the benefits while sidestepping the ill effects.