How much caffeine in coffee, tea & energy drinks


by Alex Chapman

Whether you've had a sleepless night tossing and turning and need to be switch on for your morning meeting, or you've just been hit with three thirty-itis and need a pick me up, a caffeine hit may be just what the doctor ordered.

A freshly brewed, rich cup of coffee may sound more tempting than an artificially flavoured energy drink, but how does it stack up energy-wise?

If you're looking for a drink that can help you wake up and switch on, you're probably going to be looking for one with a high caffeine level.

On the contrary, if you're sensitive to caffeinated drinks, and experience symptoms like headaches, restlessness or anxiety, then you should consider how much caffeine is in each drink, and be mindful of how much you consume. The same goes for pregnant or breastfeeding women, who are recommended to limit caffeine consumption.

To help you adjust your caffeine intake accordingly, we've popped together a guide on the average amount of caffeine in different kinds of drinks - including your favourite cup of coffee.

Factors that affect caffeine content

While the caffeine amount in energy drinks and caffeinated soft drinks is measured out carefully before they're packaged, the amount in freshly made coffee can vary. There are a variety of factors that can affect the amount of caffeine, such as:

The size of the coffee

The standard size of a coffee can vary dramatically from household to household, and from cafe to cafe. Generally, standard-sized takeaway coffee in Australia is around 240ml. However, this rule of thumb is rarely stuck to. Not only do cup sizes change between venues, but different types of coffees also require different serving sizes. For example, a cappuccino usually comes in a larger cup than a long black. The serving size will affect the caffeine amount.

Type of coffee beans

Caffeine actually runs through an entire coffee plant, with the majority of its source of caffeine being inside the coffee beans themselves. However, not all coffee beans are created equal. The type of plant, the region it's harvested and the altitude it's harvested at, can all affect the level of caffeine in the bean itself.

For example, a single arabica coffee bean contains 1.9mg of caffeine on average, whereas a single robusta coffee bean has approximately 2.9mgs of caffeine.

The grind size of the coffee

Coffee that is ground smaller will produce a coffee with higher caffeine content. This is because a small grind has a greater total surface area, this means the coffee will brew quicker and caffeine will be extracted quicker. If a small grind brews for the same amount of time as a rough grind, it will produce a coffee with higher caffeine content.

How the coffee beans are roasted

When a coffee bean is roasted, its density is affected. The longer a bean is roasted, the more water it loses and the lighter it becomes. So, if a lightly roasted bean is used - and the coffee is measured out in scoops - a coffee will have a higher level of caffeine because the bean is denser. On the other hand, if a deeply roasted bean is used - and the coffee is measured in weight - a darker roast will have more caffeine because the coffee bean is lighter than a dark roast.

The water temperature used

Coffee that is made with a higher temperature has higher caffeine levels. This is because hot water has the ability to extract more caffeine from coffee beans.

Levels of caffeine in coffee, tea & energy drinks

Cappuccino

While a cappuccino should contain a single shot of espresso, some restaurants or cafes serve huge cups of foaming cappuccinos, that may contain more expresso than just one shot. However, a standard cappuccino should contain around 63mgs of caffeine.

Latte

While a latte tastes slightly different from a cappuccino, it's still a milk-based coffee drink. This means that it should, too, include just a single shot of espresso. If this is the case you'll be consuming the same amount of caffeine that's in a cappuccino: 63mgs.

Double shot latte

The caffeine amount in a double shot latte is pretty self-explanatory: it's double the amount in a regular latte. You can expect to consume about 126 mgs of caffeine in a double shot latte.

Long black

A long black coffee is usually made up of two shots of espresso poured over 120mls of water. This kind of coffee will have about 126 mgs of caffeine in it.

Espresso shot

An espresso shot is a small, concentrated drink and the caffeine content isn't diluted by water or milk. A single espresso shot will have approximately 126mgs of caffeine in it.

Decaf coffee

If you're sensitive to caffeine - or just don't like the feeling of it - but still enjoy the taste of coffee, then a decaf coffee may be your beverage of choice. While the name decaf is thought to stand for de-caffeinated, decaf coffee often isn't caffeine-free, it usually just has a lower content. This type of coffee generally has around 3mgs of caffeine in it.

Tea

Tea has a much lower caffeine content than espresso, a normal serving size of tea will have around 11mgs of caffeine in it.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is an easy brew to fix up at home but lacks the superior taste of freshly brewed coffee. The amount of caffeine in an instant coffee will depend on how heavy-handed you are with the coffee. One teaspoon of instant coffee in a cup will have around 57 mgs.

Can of cola

While cola is thought to have high caffeine content, the truth is that it's actually much lower than a standard cup of coffee. A 375ml can should have 36.4mgs of caffeine.

Standard energy drink can

A standard energy drink can is 250ml, but even though this is a small size, it packs a punch caffeine-wise. This size of energy drink has around 80mg of caffeine.

Large energy drink can

The larger-sized energy drink cans are usually around 473ml. This size of energy drink has approximately 151mgs of caffeine.


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