Want to know how many mg of caffeine in Espresso? Well, this table should help. You can see clearly how much caffeine in 1,2,3 or 4 shots of espresso.
Can you see how most of those drinks are 2 shots?
Well, the standard these days is a double shot. This is even if it looks like it’s coming from one normal espresso pull. The thing is… your barista is likely using a split portafilter.
Check out the photo on your right. That’s two shots of espresso. Usually one mug is put under it to make a double shot.
However there are other things to think about, too. What is a healthy amount of caffeine per day? And how does caffeine in espresso compare to other drinks? Read on to find the answers to these questions.
What is a healthy amount of caffeine?
The US Food and Drug Administration states that up to 400mg of caffeine per day in a 65kg adult is considered safe. And there are further considerations for pregnant women and children, as you can see in the table below.
Remember that those are single Espresso shots. In reality, almost all drinks you order like a Latte or a Cappuccino will be a double shot. Perhaps 3 or 4 if you order a larger size.
It’s also worth bearing in mind these are upper limits. The average caffeine consumption by US adults is 135mg per day.
How to work out the amount of caffeine in an espresso shot
Above I showed you that one espresso shot contains about 75mg of caffeine. This is a rule of thumb, not a universal truth. But the truth is not quite as simple.
Here is a link to two studies that show a range of 25-214mg of caffeine per cup and 15-254mg of caffeine per cup. That’s quite a range. The same link shows how even a large chain like Starbucks (where you expect some consistency!) serves espresso with between 63 and 91mg of caffeine per cup. And that’s in the same store, by the way.
So how did I work out 75mg for one shot?
Firstly, I assumed 14g of ground coffee for a double and 7g for a single. I also assumed the Espresso was made using 100% Arabica (more on that later).
We know that caffeine makes up around 1.2% of the mass of Arabica coffee beans. During a full brew, we can expect to extract most of that, if not all of it. I’ll assume 90% will be extracted.
This table shows the calculation to find different amount of caffeine in Espresso. It includes a standard single shot (7g ground coffee) and a standard double shot (14g). It also includes typical amounts for a strong double shot (18g) and a very strong double shot (20g).
A quick scan of the internet seems to agree with these as rough figures. Again, these are a general rule. Anyone who that tells you exactly how much caffeine is in espresso is misleading you, as there’s too many variables to always have the exact amount.
Caffeine in espresso vs brewed coffee
How does the amount of caffeine in espresso compare with the amount in brewed coffee? The number that gets throw around a lot if 150-200mg in a big cup of brewed coffee.
That’s not a bad figure. But we can figure out the actual amount quite easily, so long as we’re happy making a couple of assumptions.
First, I’m going to assume a standard 7g for a single shot of espresso and 14g for a double shot of espresso. We’re going to assume we’re using 100% Arabica coffee, too. And for the brewed coffee, I will assume a typical 1:17 coffee to water ratio. This way, we can compare the amount of caffeine in the ground coffee used.
If you’re buying your coffee out somewhere, it’s hard to know what strength they use. Maybe you can ask? A lot of places will be happy to tell you how much coffee they use in their drinks.
And if you’re making it yourself, you can simply measure the amount of ground coffee you use to make your brewed coffee.
Caffeine in Espresso vs tea/Diet Coke/Monster
Our next table compares the caffeine in Espresso to other popular caffeinated drinks (and foods!) Remember, we are using the same assumptions for espresso. The actual amount of caffeine can vary (more on this in a second).
When it comes to things like Diet Coke or Monster though, the values are accurate. As they are sold in a can, we can just read the values off the label. Or in this case, the company’s website.
Variables that affect the amount of caffeine in Espresso
It’s impossible to give 100% accurate values for the amount of caffeine in Espresso. The reason? It changes from shot to shot, depending on what you do with it.
Here are some of the things that can affect the amount of caffeine in your Espresso.
Amount of coffee used
A rule of thumb in brewing Espresso is to use 7g of ground coffee for a single shot of espresso and 14g for a double shot. Sometimes a larger amount of 18g or 20g might be used for a double shot. See here for how much caffeine you’d get then.
Type of coffee bean
The two main varieties of coffee are Arabica or Robusta, and they ain’t the same when it comes to caffeine. Arabica, the smoother tasting coffee, has less caffeine at around 1.2% by volume. Robusta on the other hand, has around 2.7% by volume. So Robusta has loads more caffeine. More than double, actually.
So why haven’t I given caffeine amounts for Robusta? Well, Arabica makes up almost all coffee sold and consumed in Western countries.
Some Espresso blends do use a little Robusta, but even then it’s maybe 10-20% Robusta coffee beans with the rest being Arabica. As such, there’ll be a bit more caffeine if your Espresso uses Robusta in its blend.
Type of roast
It’s a common misconception that lighter roasts contain more caffeine. The idea is that the roasting process (which is essentially cooking the beans) “burns away” the caffeine.
While this does happen to some extent, it is offset by other things that happen during the roast. For example, dark roasts contain less water so, pound for pound, darker roasts have slightly more caffeine.
For the purpose of this article though, the difference between roasts is negligible.
When you brew your coffee and mix the coffee grounds with the hot water, many of the compounds from the coffee begin to be absorbed and dissolved into the water. This is what we call extraction. Caffeine is one of the compounds that extracts quickly in the process.
I read a study that showed half of all the caffeine gets absorbed within the first few seconds when making a 3-4 minute brewed coffee (I’d link it but I can’t find where I read it, sorry!)
I also can’t find anywhere that states with much certainty how much caffeine in the coffee bean (which as I mentieond is about 1.2% of its mass) actually gets absorbed into the drink.
All this is to basically say I don’t know quite the impact the extraction has on caffeine content. Let me know in the comments if you know any good resources on the subject.
If you can keep in mind that 150mg is roughly what you’re getting from Espresso then you’re golden. Double espresso, Latte, Flat White. All the drinks that use a double shot tend to have around that amount.
Want to learn more about espresso? First stop is knowing what you can make. Here’s my Espresso drinks guide that has 17 different espresso-related concoctions. How many do you know?
And if you brew your own stuff… How about getting start making coffee so good you can drink it black? That’s what this article is all about.