Ever wondered how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso and whether it has a stronger caffeine kick than a regular cup of coffee?
There is some general confusion with what an espresso is. Many believe it is a type of coffee, coffee bean, or coffee grind.
However, espresso is not a type of coffee. It is a method of coffee preparation dating back to Italy in the 19th century.
Espressos are made by forcing very hot water, just shy of its boiling point, at pressure, through a container tightly packed with finely ground coffee beans.
They are easily recognized by its layer of thick golden-brown foam, called crema. And the fact that they are served in small cups or shots.
This form of preparation results in a coffee that is thicker and smoother than coffees prepared by other means. Espressos are served in small quantities as it is a highly concentrated form of coffee.
The white foam produced during the preparation is due to the formation of air bubbles mixing with soluble oils in the ground coffee.
Differing flavors can be attributed to the origin of the coffee beans and the way they are roasted.
Since espressos result in a highly concentrated coffee, how much caffeine is present in a typical shot?
Espressos typically come in either a single shot or double shot.
How much caffeine in one espresso shot?
30 – 50ml
How much caffeine in a double shot of espresso?
60 – 100ml
The double shot being the most popular.
It should also be noted that the caffeine levels in shots of espresso will vary depending on the type of coffee bean used.
By volume, they contain more caffeine per milliliter than regular brewed coffee.
BUT… a regular cup of brewed coffee has more caffeine in it than a single shot cup of espresso!!
The majority of people in North America and Europe enjoy their daily cups of coffee. They prepare them by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans resting in or above a filter.
It is for this reason that they label this type of coffee preparation as a regular or normal coffee. It is also known as brewed coffee.
Brewed coffee can be prepared manually or automatically using a wide range of branded coffee brewing machines.
Manually preparing brewed coffee is simple. Slowly pour hot water through ground coffee beans contained in a filter paper cone over a glass flask.
There are several different preparation techniques used globally that result in what is described as brewed coffee, namely:
In addition to the type of coffee bean used, the above preparation techniques all result in differing amounts of caffeine present in your cup of coffee.
In a typical 235 – 240ml cup of brewed coffee the amount of caffeine varies as follows according to “coffeescience.org”:
A variety of factors will determine the amount of caffeine present in your favorite espresso.
Just know that the actual amount of caffeine in espresso shots is very difficult to determine. Any online source publishing caffeine amounts will do so using estimations.
The following factors will all play a part in determining the amount of caffeine in a typical espresso shot, single or double:
– the traditional single shot recipe uses 7g of finely ground coffee beans yielding about 30ml of espresso. The traditional double shot recipe uses 14g of coffee beans yielding about 60ml of espresso. However, it is not as simple as this as recipes vary between coffee shops. The more coffee beans used will usually result in higher levels of caffeine.
– there are two varieties of coffee, namely Arabica and Robusta. Both have different characteristics besides the amount of caffeine. Both plant species use caffeine as a defense mechanism against potentially harmful insects. Since Robusta grows better at lower altitudes and is thus more vulnerable to insect attack, its beans have a higher level of caffeine. Twice as much as Arabica.
– there is a wide held misconception that a dark roast coffee bean has more caffeine than a lightly roasted bean. Caffeine is a very stable compound even at those high roasting temperatures. The levels of caffeine are virtually the same for a given variety of coffee beans whether it is a dark or light roast.
– this factor refers to the caffeine extraction process. Therefore, this only applies to de-caffeinated espressos. There are three commercial methods used to extract caffeine from coffee beans. The Swiss Water Method, the Carbon Dioxide Process, and the cheaper solvent process.
– the amount of caffeine is also affected by the fact that different coffee houses use differing recipes. These differing recipes can result in:
Your typical espresso contains less caffeine than a cup of regular brewed black coffee. It all ‘boils’ down to serving size.
Both a single (30-50ml) and double (60-100ml) shot of espresso is far smaller than a regular cup (approx. 240ml) of black coffee.
Below you will find a brief description of the extraction processes used to decaffeinate coffee beans. These beans are used to produce decaf coffee the world over.
This is a fully organic process.
It involves soaking the non-roasted coffee beans in a mixture of water, coffee bean oils, and flavors.
The mixture is then heated to near boiling point over 10 hours. Using the natural process of osmosis the caffeine migrates from the beans which are then separated from the solution and dried ready for roasting.
Supercritical carbon dioxide is a cross between a liquid and a gas.
The coffee beans are washed in supercritical carbon dioxide which causes the caffeine to transfer from the beans into the carbon dioxide.
This is the cheapest and most popular commercial method of caffeine extraction.
The coffee beans are first steamed for at least 30 minutes in a rotating drum and washed repeatedly in an organic solvent. This transfers the caffeine from the beans to the solvent.
The beans are then vacuum dried, ready for roasting.
The regular espresso forms the basis or foundation of a wide variety of espresso drinks, using only one other ingredient, milk.
Some of these variations you will recognize immediately. Others may be new to you.
Traditionally when mixing espressos with milk, the amount of espresso remains fixed. Typically that is a double shot (60 – 100ml).
Therefore different sized espresso + milk drinks usually mean the addition of more milk.
Let us begin with the most common variations:
– the latte is the largest drink using a combination of espresso and milk and the drink containing the most milk. It tends to be the variation most popular with those people who are not big coffee drinkers. Largely since the strong espresso flavor is muted by the extra milk. Lattes also blend well with flavored syrups, again due to the lower concentration of espresso. A traditional latte will contain 30 – 100ml of espresso and 237 – 444ml of steamed milk. The milk is steamed to approximately 135 – 150 degrees, but only has a thin layer of microfoam. An iced latte contains the same quantities of espresso and milk, but the milk is not steamed and ice is added.
– probably the most widely known of the espresso and milk drinks. A traditional cappuccino contains 30 – 100ml of espresso and 89 – 118ml of steamed milk with a thicker layer of microfoam. Cappuccinos have a stronger coffee taste but are still enjoyable for those who might not be big coffee consumers.
– originating in Australia, the flat white is essentially a “cappuccino with no foam and extra milk”. In specialty coffee shops, flat whites are sometimes referred to as tiny lattes due to the lack of foam.
– is an espresso and milk combination with Spanish origins. It is a small drink traditionally served in a Gibraltar cup containing only about 118 – 148ml of liquid and designed to be drunk quickly. It has a very strong espresso taste since only 59 – 89ml of steamed milk is added. The milk is also steamed to a lower temperature so that it can be safely consumed quickly. A popular drink with coffee lovers as it is not as potent as a straight espresso, but still has the subtle flavors of one.
– traditionally this drink was a single shot (30 – 50ml) topped with a small spoonful of microfoam from steamed milk. Its strong coffee flavor is closest to that of a straight espresso as only a very small amount of milk is added. In specialty coffee shops today the traditional recipe has been modified. It includes slightly more liquid milk to create latte milk art. It is also known as an “espresso macchiato” if you want to be precise when ordering.
– ordering a “breve” in a specialty coffee shop today will result in you receiving a latte made with half cream instead of milk. The word “breve” can also be used to modify some of the other variations above. For example, a “breve cappuccino” is a cappuccino made with steamed cream replacing the milk.
– probably originating in Seattle. The Americano traditionally consists of either a single (30 – 50ml) or double (60 – 100ml) shot mixed with 89 – 118ml of hot water. This hot water is added to an already extracted espresso. It is thought to have been invented due to the preferred taste for weaker coffees by the Americans. The Americano retains the subtle aroma but with a lighter body and less bitterness.
– depending on the number of shots used this coffee drink is known as red-eye, black eye, or dead eye. A Red Eye is brewed coffee or drip coffee with an added espresso. It was named after the need to stay awake during the long haul flights between the American West Coast and New York. It may sometimes also be referred to as a Canadiano, especially if brewed coffee or drip coffee is added to an espresso rather than the other way around.
– is a traditional cream-based coffee drink. It consists of a double shot in a standard-sized coffee cup topped with whipped cream until the cup is full. Chocolate sprinkles are usually added to the whipped cream topping.
As a comparison let us look at the levels of caffeine found in some of the other products we may eat or drink.
Here is the comparison for how much caffeine is in an espresso shot:
Below are the figures for caffeine quantities in other drinks.
These caffeine figures are not exact quantities, due to the wide variations in caffeine levels between the huge array of drink product brands available:
Caffeine is thought to occur naturally in 60 to 100 plant species predominately in plant species growing in the tropics or sub-tropics. These plants use caffeine as a defense mechanism against insects.
Caffeine is an alkaloid. Two other common alkaloids are morphine and nicotine.
The liver breaks caffeine down (metabolizes) into theophylline, theobromine, and paraxanthine.
Caffeine is mildly addictive and is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It is estimated that more than 80% of the world’s population uses caffeine in one form or another.
Caffeine should be treated with respect since it is a known stimulant. (Please note that the following are only guidelines.)
A person’s caffeine limit is determined by their natural tolerance; natural sensitivity (determined by their genetics); weight; age; and health history:
The accepted overdose symptoms in order of increasing severity are:
The half-life for caffeine metabolism is 4-6 hours. Therefore its major effects will be felt for at least 4 hours after being ingested.
Now you know exactly how much caffeine is in espresso.
If you are a caffeine addict that needs an upper to get you going while you are on the go – you now have the solution.
For a quick hit of caffeine with a rich flavor, an espresso – double or single – is the answer.
A shot of espresso measures one fluid ounce and a double shot is two fluid ounces.
If you are measuring by volume then there are approximately 10 shots of espresso in a cup of coffee. A regular coffee cup is 10 fluid ounces with an espresso measuring 1 fluid ounce. Therefore, one cup of coffee is equal to the volume of 10 espresso shots.
Everybody will have a slightly different number according to your body mass. The number of espresso shots for an average person to drink before suffering death is 50.
An espresso is a highly concentrated coffee drink. Its taste is much stronger than a regular coffee but it has the same amount of caffeine as a regular cup of brew.
Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine daily can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis, liver damage, and an increase in your blood pressure. If you drink not more than 3 espresso shots per day you are within the health guidelines.