When you rely on your morning cup of coffee to make it until lunch or you stop by a cafe for an afternoon pick-me-up, do you know how much caffeine you’re truly getting in your drink?
How much caffeine is too much, and what factors does the caffeine content depend on? Find out everything you need to know about how much caffeine is in your coffee.
If you’re a coffee lover, it may sound odd to hear that caffeine is actually the most consumed psychoactive drug in the world.
Caffeine is actually a stimulant, and its stimulation effects mainly impact the nervous system. It may feel weird to drink your morning coffee and realize you’re taking a drug–but, unlike a lot of other psychoactive substances, caffeine is completely legal.
While caffeine is the reason why you get a boost from your morning coffee, it’s not the major component of coffee. Coffee contains more than a thousand compounds, and caffeine is just 0.1% of its composition. This is why it’s safe to drink up to 4-5 cups of coffee each day without worrying about excessive caffeine consumption.
Caffeine in its pure form is a white powder. It’s very bitter and sometimes is sold as a supplement to boost physical performance for athletes and other physical trainers. While the caffeine in your coffee won’t turn you into a weightlifter, it does provide a boost to your physical performance and mental stimulation.
Contrary to popular belief, darker roasts do not contain more caffeine. Many people think this because dark roasts have a strong, robust flavor. People believe that they get more of a “kick” out of darker coffee.
However, a dark roast will have a lower level of caffeine than a light roast. The reason for this? The heavier roasting that takes place for dark roasts involves prolonged heat, which breaks down the molecules of caffeine more. As some people like to think of it, a long roast “burns off” the caffeine that the coffee beans contain.
Did you buy coffee and you aren’t sure of the roast? Take a look at the color once it’s brewed. If it’s a lighter roast, it will have a lighter color–and therefore, a higher amount of caffeine. As a rule of thumb, the kind of coffee that will have the least amount of caffeine is a dark roast coffee that contains coarsely ground Arabica beans and brewed using a quick method such as a traditional drip method.
Now you know that caffeine has a strong presence in coffee, but the amount of caffeine you get depends on a variety of factors.
Beyond roast and type of beans, the type of coffee drink you get can also make an impact on the amount of caffeine you receive from your drink. Keep in mind that factors such as the brewing time and processing can impact the caffeine level, as well.
As a guide, this is the amount of caffeine found in common coffee drinks:
Remember, this is a general rule of thumb. And while most coffee drinks are created in serving sizes of several ounces, espresso is the exception; espresso is typically served in a one-ounce shot that is meant to be consumed all at once.
It has a higher amount of caffeine per fluid ounce, so you should not consume 8 ounces of espresso in a single drink. If you ask for an 8-ounce cup of espresso at a local cafe, they likely will not give it to you.
Also, note that “decaf” does not necessarily mean your coffee drink is 100% free of caffeine. In many cases, it’s impossible to get rid of the caffeine completely, so even a decaf version of your coffee drink will contain trace amounts of caffeine.
This includes decaf espresso, which says it has zero mg of caffeine because the amount of caffeine is minimal, but the presence of some caffeine is still there.
There are many perks to consuming coffee and receiving the stimulation benefits from caffeine. However, overdoing it can lead to a variety of problems. It’s important to moderate your consumption and be aware of how much you’re consuming, so you don’t end up drinking an excessive amount of caffeine.
As a general rule, the FDA says that healthy adults should not consume more than 400mg of caffeine in one day. That’s equivalent to about 4-5 cups of coffee. Note that this rule applies to healthy adults–children should not consume caffeine, nor people who are elderly or have medical conditions such as high blood pressure.
If you’ve had too much caffeine, you’ll likely feel it; overconsumption comes with a variety of negative health effects, such as an elevated heart rate, insomnia, increased anxiety, and digestive issues. Keep yourself to just a couple of cups of coffee per day. If you notice that your caffeine consumption seems to impact your health, even if you have a small amount, speak with your doctor.
Coffee is a great pick-me-up and is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. You’ll likely get a lot of benefits from your coffee–increased energy, for example.
However, caffeine is a stimulant drug, and having too much caffeine can lead to adverse health effects. To protect your health, stick to just a couple of cups of coffee each day and regulate your caffeine intake.