How Much Caffeine Is In Espresso?
Have you ever felt defeated when ordering an espresso at a coffee shop? After trying different ratios and combinations of espresso, milk, and foam, you’re finally ready to give up and walk away when the barista asks you if you would like half or double. Your eyes roll back in your head as you mutter “double double..." and thinking "how much caffeine am I getting with this?"
In an effort to make your life a little easier, we decided to find out how much caffeine is in espresso by doing all of the research for you. The amount of caffeine is highly variable depending on the type of bean used, the roast used to produce it, and how it was prepared.
Spoiler Alert: The only way to know for sure is by testing it yourself. So, let’s get started with our detailed guide on how much caffeine is in espresso.
What Is Caffeine
Caffeine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in coffee and tea leaves, but also from other natural sources such as cocoa, and guarana.
Caffeine gives coffee its stimulating effect and it affects positively our health. However, in high quantities caffeine he some side effects that we should avoid.
Since we are interested in the caffeine content in espresso, we are going to focus on how coffee beans and brewing method affects the caffeine content of an espresso shot.
Caffeine in Coffee Beans
Coffee beans contain the highest level of caffeine, this is why coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world.
The caffeine content is quite variable in different types of coffee beans. Some of the main types of beans include arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. But the most popular coffee species are Arabica and Robusta.
The caffeine content in coffee beans can vary from 0% to as much as 18%. And an interesting fact, Robusta has almost double the caffeine content of the Arabica. Considering that many espresso blends use Robusta, you can see why it's starting to get difficult to count. But wait, there is more.
The roast levels is also another factor that affects the caffeine content. A light-roasted coffee bean has higher levels of caffeine than a dark roast. This is because caffeine is burnt at higher temperatures, so the more we roast the beans the less caffeine is left.
Caffeine in Espresso Versus Coffee
There is no definitive answer to this question as the caffeine levels in espresso and coffee vary significantly. Generally speaking, espresso will have more caffeine per ounce than coffee, however, this is just one way to look at it.
CoffeeBrewingMethods.com has an article about caffeine in espresso, and they explain that per serving, drip coffee has more caffeine than espresso. They compare a double shot which is the most popular serving of espresso in North America, with the 8 fluid ounce coffee cup, which is the standard serving of coffee.
They go a little deeper in the subject and they show that espresso extracts less caffeine per gram of dry coffee than filter coffee. They this is because of the shorter brew time.
Is Espresso the Most Caffeinated Coffee?
Depends how you look at it. If you look from a caffeine concentration perspective, the espresso is the most caffeinated coffee drink. But if you look from a purely caffeine content per serving, it's probably just average.
Espresso has about the same amount of caffeine per serving as a cup of drip coffee, considering you get a double shot.
A double shot espresso has anywhere from 80 to 100mg of caffeine, (2 fluid ounce), compare that with a cups of drip coffee which contains around 120 mg of caffeine.
If You Want More Caffeine Try a Long Espresso Shot
If you want more caffeine in your espresso shot, you might want to try lungo. Lungo is a shot of espresso that is pulled for longer than the recommended 30 seconds. This means water will have the opportunity to dissolve more caffeine from the beans say the experts at BrewEspressoCoffee.com.
However, lungo is a more diluted beverage, and we might experience less jitters when we drink a lungo than when we drink a ristretto. We tend to drink our espresso fast, partly because it's a small drink, partly because that's "cultural". So when we get a longer drink, we take a little more time with it.
So when we take more time to drink a cup of coffee, our body has the time to process it, and we experience less side effects.
Ristretto has less caffeine per serving, but if you enjoy larger beverages, you might end up with more caffeine because you might order two cups.
Robusta Coffee Beans vs Arabica
Since the caffeine content in an espresso shot is highly dependent on the bean used, you might want to select your bens that way.
Robusta is the most caffeinated coffee species, with almost the double of the Arabica content. Robusta coffee beans are found many times in espresso blends, partly because of their caffeine content, and partly because they produce more crema than Arabicas.
But roasting and processing play a role in the caffeine content in the beans. This means that the outcome of your espresso will vary based on these two factors as well.
The roasting process destroys caffeine in small amounts, but also makes coffee beans easier to dissolve. So, on one hand lighter roast will have more caffeine content, but on the other hand, it will be harder to extract that caffeine, because the coffee bean cell structure is harder, so we cannot dissolve the good stuff in beans.
If we raise the brewing temperature, we will compensate for this lower solubility, but it is already too complicated for most home baristas that try to control the caffeine content in their espresso shot.
Don't get caught up in the caffeine content and antioxidant amount. Espresso is the best coffee there is, and it would be a shame to give it up just because you don't know how much caffeine it contains.
In conclusion, it's mostly label reading, if your coffee shop has that measured, or by trial. It's probably not what you wanted to hear, but unfortunately, it's next to impossible to estimate the amount of caffeine in your espresso shot, unless you measure it. And caffeine measurement is also a rough approximation, unless you have expensive equipment.
This article was published firstly on Daily Charlotte News and syndicated.