While many coffee enthusiasts love the taste of coffee, most people drink their daily cup of joe for the caffeine that helps them wake up and get motivated in the morning. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, more than 95 percent of adults in the United States consume foods and drinks containing caffeine. But you might be wondering how much caffeine is in your daily coffee ritual.
An average cup of coffee contains around 95mg of caffeine, but the story doesn’t end there. The caffeine content in coffee varies significantly depending on various factors.
This article will cover how much caffeine is in one cup of coffee depending on the brewing method, roast, and coffee type, specify how many mg of caffeine is in the most popular coffees, and explain the recommended serving per day for healthy adults.
What Influences Caffeine Content?
Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. This substance can be found in food and beverages and is naturally present in coffee. After being consumed, it is quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream and then works by stimulating the brain and the central nervous system.
Caffeine is present in coffee, black and green tea, chocolate as well as some soft and energy drinks.
The amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee depends on various factors. Here’s how the brewing method, serving size, roast, grind size, and the type of coffee beans influence the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee.
The Brewing Method
With each brewing method, the time for which coffee grounds stay in contact with water varies, which allows different amounts of caffeine to be extracted into your cup. Therefore, the amount of caffeine in coffee will be different for a double espresso shot from the amount of caffeine you can find in a cup of pour over coffee or cold brew.
A cup of coffee is a wide term that can mean different things to different people. A small 6-ounce drip coffee will have different caffeine levels than an extra-large latte that can pack up to 4 shots of espresso.
Not only does the roasting process affect the flavor in your cup, but it also has an impact on the caffeine levels of your coffee. As you roast coffee beans, they lose water and expand in size, and the longer you roast them, the more caffeine will be lost, at least when measuring coffee in scoops.
And even though the dark roasted coffee beans can taste more bitter and therefore have a “stronger” taste, the opposite is true and they actually contain less caffeine than lighter roasts.
Similar to how the brewing method affects the caffeine content in coffee, the grind size determines how much caffeine in coffee gets extracted into your cup. This is the reason why a double espresso, which uses finely ground coffee beans and is brewed within 30 seconds, will generally contain more caffeine than coffee with a coarse grind brewed for 5 minutes in the French Press.
Type of Coffee Beans
The coffee plant variety has an impact on the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Robusta beans tend to contain around twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans.
While 70% of the world's coffee comes from Arabica beans, in some cases producers can favor Robusta beans for their higher caffeine content. Some coffees such as Death Wish Coffee or Biohazard coffee have been specifically developed with Robusta beans to contain extreme amounts of caffeine, claiming to pack more than 700mg of caffeine per cup.
How Much Caffeine In a Cup of Coffee?
Now that we know how different factors influence the amount of caffeine in your cup, let’s look at how many milligrams you can expect from the most popular types of coffee.
A cup of brewed coffee contains around 70-140mg of caffeine, with 96 milligrams in an average 8oz cup. This is quite a big range, which can be attributed to the specific brewing method you select for preparing your drink. Each brewing method requires a different grind and steeping time, which determines the caffeine content.
How many milligrams of caffeine are in a cup of coffee?
- Drip machine - 80mg on average
- Manual filter coffee (including V60, Chemex, Kalita) - 145mg on average
- French Press or plunger - 107mg on average
- Percolated coffee - 200mg on average
- Turkish or Greek coffee - 200mg on average
- AeroPress - 120mg on average
Espresso coffee is made by forcing small amounts of hot water through finely-ground coffee at high pressure. The brewing process only takes around 30 seconds and produces a small 30ml concentrated coffee beverage. A standard single espresso will give you a 63mg caffeine boost, and 120mg, on average, for a double shot.
Espresso-based Milky Coffee
Coffees like lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites are made by mixing the standard double shot of coffee with various amounts of steamed milk.
While the milk dilutes the bitterness in coffee and is responsible for a milder taste, it doesn’t alter the drink’s caffeine content. Even though a standard cappuccino can taste stronger than a latte of the same size, if they both use a double shot of espresso, they both contain around 120mg of caffeine per cup. The tricky part to watch out for is that if you get a large milky coffee from a coffee shop like Starbucks, they are likely to use 3 or 4 shots of espresso.
And even though the coffee tastes mild, you are consuming elevated amounts of caffeine, which can add up significantly throughout the day.
Instant coffee is basically brewed coffee that has been freeze-dried. It has a weaker taste and contains less caffeine than regular coffee, with around 20-90mg per cup.
Have you ever had a cup of cold brew coffee and you felt a more intense hit of caffeine than usual?
This is because a cup of cold brew contains around 150-230mg of caffeine, which can be more than double the dose you get from a standard brewed coffee. The higher caffeine content comes from the way this coffee is prepared. Since using cold instead of hot water, the coffee needs to be in contact with water for up to 24 hours to prepare a tasty cold brew.
Does Decaf Coffee Contain No Caffeine?
While decaf is a good option when you want to reduce your daily caffeine consumption, a cup of decaf is not completely caffeine-free.
How many mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee that’s labeled as ‘decaf’?
A cup of decaf coffee contains around 1-7mg of caffeine, with 3mg on average, depending on the decaffeination process. And while this is not zero, it is much lower than a standard cup of coffee.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Caffeine is a stimulant that can help you boost metabolism, improve cognitive function and boost athletic performance.
But consume too much caffeine and you can start experiencing some of its negative effects, such as anxiety, heart palpitations, restlessness, or sleep disruptions.
So how much caffeine is too much?
According to the FDA, the general guidelines for the recommended daily caffeine intake are 400mg of caffeine per day for a healthy adult, which means around 4 to 5 cups of coffee, depending on the type. Consuming more than 400-600mg of caffeine per day can have severe diverse effects.
Everyone’s sensitivity to caffeine on their body is different and it is possible to build some caffeine tolerance, which is why some people might have 4 cups of coffee every day without any adverse effects while others will feel the jitters after their second cup. When monitoring your daily caffeine consumption, don’t forget to account for other sources of caffeine in your diet, apart from coffee. Soft drinks, tea, energy drinks, or even chocolate can significantly contribute to your daily caffeine intake.
The Bottom Line: Caffeine In Coffee
How much caffeine in a cup of coffee depends on several factors, including brewing method, coffee type, roast, grind, and serving size.
A standard brewed coffee contains, on average, 95mg of caffeine per cup, a latte or a double shot of espresso has around 120mg of caffeine per cup, and some coffees with even higher caffeine content such as cold brew or Turkish coffee can contain up to 200mg of caffeine.