Caffeine is an advantage and a disadvantage of coffee. It provides the oomph which gets you going in the morning, but consume too much and you’re a jittery insomniac.
The amount of caffeine in your cup depends on the sort of beans you’re using, the roasting level and the brewing process itself so it’s hard to put a precise number on how much caffeine is in a particular cup of coffee, in fact even if you use the same coffee to make a cup in the same way, there’ll be a surprising amount of variance in the caffeine content.
Which Beans Contain The Most Caffeine?
Coffee beans can contain a lot of caffeine, but robusta beans contain more than arabicas, meaning that you’re unlikely to get as much in an arabica blend as you do one containing robusta. If you want to drink more coffee before turning into a wide-eyed creature of the night, then buy quality arabica beans, you have an excuse now if you needed one, they’re better for your health!
Robusta isn’t often used in top quality coffee, but there are a few examples of quality espressos that contain robustas for their crema-producing qualities.
How Does the Roasting Process Affect Caffeine Content?
This is where there’s been some confusion: people assume that strong coffee is the dark stuff, and that is what people mean when they say strong coffee.
The strength in terms of caffeine content is different, a fact which is counter intuitive. Dark roasts taste bitter and strong but they have been roasted longer than light roasts and this means that more of the caffeine has been burned away. Lighter roasts hold more of their naturally occurring caffeine.
Caffeine, Grinds And The Brewing Process
The brewing process can vary the amount of caffeine that’s extracted from the beans. Although there has been some debate over how this occurs, it is generally accepted that the longer the steeping time the more caffeine is extracted from beans and in espressos the high pressure brewing method helps to extract more caffeine.
There’s also the matter of the fineness of the ground. The finer the ground, the more of an impact the hot water can have in getting the caffeine out of the beans and into the cup. This explains why the longer roasting time of the french press method don’t equate to more caffeine per cup.
The coarse grind used here keeps the caffeine locked inside the bulky coarse beans, with the water unable to affect them as much. The medium grind used in drip coffee means that even with the shorter brewing time this process is more effective in caffeinating the cup. Espresso, with the finest grind gets more per 100ml than either, though the smaller portion size means that overall drip coffee contains the most caffeine per serving.
Decaffeinated coffee is coffee which has had the caffeine removed. It contains less than 3mg of caffeine per cup, much less than regular coffee. It’s having a bit of a resurgence in the quality coffee market, which is good news for the caffeine sensitive.
Here is a ball park estimate of how much coffee you are getting with each major brewing method. These numbers will never be exact but they offer a good starting point for you to base your caffeine consumption off of.
|Type of Coffee (standard serving size)||Caffeine per serving|
|French Press (6oz)||40-170mg|
|Drip Coffee (6oz)||80-185mg|
|Decaffeinated (6oz)||around 3mg|