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How much caffeine is in coffee?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that pops up in many common food and drink items. For most of us, coffee is our single largest dietary source of caffeine. Being that the average person might enjoy one, two, three or more cups of joe a day, it’s important to know just how much caffeine you’re taking in.

So, how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee? And how much is too much? Let’s take a look at the facts.

How much caffeine content do different coffee types have?

There are many different ways to enjoy coffee — we should know, we’ve written whole brewing guides dedicated to them. And while this means that there’s something for everyone no matter their tastes, it also complicates the question of how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.

Rest assured, though, we can tell you what the caffeine content is like in some of your favourite types of brew. Here’s what you need to know.

Brewed coffee

The most common way that we enjoy coffee at home is as a cup of brewed coffee. This typically involves taking hot water fresh off the boil and pouring it over coffee grounds, for example, by using a cafetière. One cup of brewed coffee (approximately 200ml) contains an average of 100mg of caffeine.

Instant coffee

The java lover on the go might sometimes enjoy an instant coffee, which is made by dissolving dried grounds in hot water. During its production process, this type of coffee tends to be freeze-dried to give it a longer shelf life, and it will generally contain a little less caffeine than other varieties. On average, one cup of instant coffee contains 60mg of caffeine.

Espresso coffee

The beloved espresso shot is made by pushing hot water or steam through a compact puck of finely ground coffee with an espresso machine. This produces a small serving of highly concentrated coffee, usually containing around 65mg of caffeine. As you’d expect, a double shot of espresso contains approximately 130mg.

Espresso also forms the foundation for many popular coffee drinks, such as a latte, cappuccino, mocha and so on. By extension, these drinks contain the same volumes of caffeine — depending on whether you use a single or double shot as your base.

Decaf coffee

As you might expect, there is very little caffeine content in decaf coffee. However, it’s typically not as low as zero. Decaf coffee can contain anywhere up to 7mg per cup, though this will vary between the brand of coffee and method of decaffeination used during production.

This low caffeine content doesn’t generally have any of the effects of a full brew, though — hence why people drink it later in the day when they don’t need waking up. For a full explainer on all things decaf, take a look at our coffee beans guide which breaks down the four common methods of decaffeination.

What determines a coffee's caffeine content?

So, there’s effectively no one-size-fits-all to the amount of caffeine found in your coffee, because it will vary with how you prepare your brew. But what other characteristics can influence caffeine content?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the determining factors.

Type of coffee bean

The vast majority of the world’s coffee is made from either Arabica or Robusta beans, constituting over 90% of total production. Arabica beans tend to contain around 1.5% caffeine per bean, whereas Robusta has a higher caffeine content at about 2.7%. So, while Arabica’s superior taste and quality are lauded by aficionados, Robusta does have a higher caffeine content.

Bean maturity

Due to natural degradation processes, the age of a coffee bean can have a mild influence on its caffeine content. Over time, the caffeine in beans will naturally decrease. This is another reason that you’ll want to always enjoy your coffee fresh — and at Beans Coffee Club, we pack and send our beans to you directly from our roasters, so you can enjoy the best possible brew.

Serving size

Each coffee drinker will have their own definition of what constitutes a ‘cup’ — be this a no-frills single espresso shot or your largest mug of brewed coffee. So, the volume you consume as a serving will directly affect its caffeine content. If you’re looking to monitor your intake, you’ll need to pay attention to how much you consume in each sitting.

The effects of caffeine

Many of us enjoy a cup of joe to wake us up in the morning or pick us up from an afternoon slump in energy levels. Coffee has this effect because the caffeine it contains is a stimulant, which boosts alertness and reduces feelings of fatigue.

Not only does this leave us feeling energised, but moderate caffeine intake has also been linked to the prevention of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. However, these benefits may be negated if you supplement your coffee with milks, creamers, or syrups.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that too high a caffeine intake can have some unpleasant side effects, which you can read about here.

How much caffeine is too much?

Generally, the average person can consume anywhere up to 400mg of caffeine in a day without experiencing any adverse effects. As a result, most experts agree that drinking up to four or so cups a day is fine, but any more than this could be too much.

However, caffeine doesn’t affect all of us equally — so if you’re a java lover, you’ll need to figure out your personal limit.

This is because each of us has an innate sensitivity to caffeine, which varies from one person to the next. For example, you might tolerate four cups a day just fine — whereas a friend may struggle to sleep if they have more than one. This is largely down to genetic differences, though your body weight and diet will also have an effect.

Like everything good in life, caffeine is best enjoyed in moderation, as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

No matter how you like to enjoy your brew, our tailored coffee quiz can match you to your next favourite blend based on your consumption habits. Get your beans packed and delivered to your door as frequently as you like with our subscription service.