Are you worried about caffeine consumption through daily coffee and espresso-based drinks?
In this article on Espresso shots caffeine, we will cover all the relevant details starting from the fundamentals of caffeine, its safe intake, the caffeine content in different types of coffee beans, the effect of size and length of espresso shots on caffeine quantity, the caffeine content in different types of coffee drinks, the recommended maximum number of shots per day and how to reduce your daily caffeine consumption.
Read the complete article to have all this information and more!
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a bitter, odorless, white, crystalline substance commonly found in coffees, teas, and soft drinks you drink. It naturally occurs in the seeds, fruits, nuts, and leaves of many plants in Africa, South America, and East Asia. The most known of these plants is the one that produces coffee beans.
It undergoes sublimation at elevated temperatures. This means it directly changes from the solid state to the vapor state without passing through the liquid state. Chemically it belongs to the methyl Xanthines group with the chemical name 1,3,7-trimethylpurine-2,6-dione. The caffeine molecule has a high nitrogen content.
It is absorbed in the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract, crosses cell membranes, and reaches the tissues and the brain. The caffeine level reaches its maximum in the bloodstream within about an hour of consumption. The liver metabolizes it, and 50 to 75% of the consumed quantity is eliminated from the body in 3 to 6 hours in most individuals.
It is highly soluble in boiling water, where about 66 mg can dissolve in 100 ml of water.
What’s the Ideal Caffeine Intake?
Caffeine is associated with both positive and negative health effects. The effects vary with individuals depending on their underlying medical conditions and the amount of caffeine intake.
Caffeine is classified in the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substance category by the US Department of Health and Human Services. European Food Safety Authority in EFSA 2015 considers that 400 mg of habitual caffeine consumption per day does not lead to safety concerns for non-pregnant adults. Generally, a dose of 75 mg of caffeine is needed to impact attention, alertness, and concentration.
The lethal amount of caffeine intake for a man is 10 gms.
The effects of caffeine are more pronounced in case of increased fatigue.
Coffee Beans and Caffeine
During the roasting process, some of the caffeine content is lost due to sublimation. You can often find caffeine crystals as sediments around the roasting machines in the coffee-producing factories. However, if you compare the percentage of caffeine content in green coffee and roasted beans, it will be nearly the same.
The reason lies in the fact that the weight of the bean also reduces during the roasting process as the moisture vaporizes and other chemical reactions take place.
The Type of Coffee Beans Used
The caffeine content in the coffee beans will vary based on their origin and other related factors. But the average caffeine content in the two main types – the Coffea arabica, also known as Arabica coffee, and the Coffea canephora, also called Robusta coffee, is 1.1 wt% and 2.2 wt%, respectively.
The wt% represents the weight in percentage. The 1.1 wt% caffeine content in Arabica beans translates to 11 mg of caffeine per gram. Similarly, the Robusta beans have 22 mg of caffeine per gram.
While Robusta coffee beans have a higher caffeine content, their bitter taste and woody flavor make them less preferred than Arabica. Their ability to grow at lower altitudes, higher temperatures, and higher resistance to disease drives their production.
Caffeine carries out the function of protecting the coffee plant from herbivores. Hence the coffee plants at lower altitudes tend to have more caffeine than those at higher altitudes.
How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso?
In order to limit your daily consumption of caffeine to the limits recommended by Health Authorities around the world, it is important to evaluate the amount of caffeine in your favorite cup of coffee. Let us start by looking at the levels of caffeine in espresso before moving on to other drinks.
Factors that Affect Espresso Shots Caffeine
The caffeine content in any brewed coffee depends on the blend composition, the amount of roasted coffee grounds per cup, the ratio of water to coffee, the coffee brewing method, and the extraction yields.
Different coffee shops may use different blend ratios between the Robusta and the Arabica coffee beans, as Robusta has higher caffeine and produce more crema.
The recipe of your local coffee shop amount may require more ground coffee for the same total volume of the espresso shot. This may be dictated by their espresso machine and its filter basket. For the same 30 ml total volume, a difference in the mass of the dry coffee of 2 gms (7 gm vs. 9 gm) will impact the caffeine content by 25%.
The other factors that affect the caffeine content extraction are the grind size, the brewing time, and the temperature of the hot water.
The fine grind increases the specific surface area allowing more extraction. More brewing time results in more caffeine release, though you cannot increase this time beyond a certain value, or else you will have over-extraction and related issues. As stated earlier, caffeine is soluble in water, and the solubility increases with an increase in temperature.
Effect of the Shot Size & Length.
As stated above, if you use more coffee grounds for pulling your espresso coffee, you will have more caffeine in your drink. That’s where the espresso shot size comes into play. A double shot uses approximately double the amount of ground coffee than a single shot, while a triple shot has three times. The exact ratio depends on the filter basket size.
Some espresso drinks in America use large quantities of steamed milk and sometimes even have four shots of espresso. Such drinks are also known as quads.
One shot of espresso with a one-ounce serving, having an approximate weight of 30 grams, contains about 40 to 70 mg of caffeine. The actual value within this range depends on various factors cited above.
You will expect that the double espresso will carry twice the caffeine contained in a single shot. This is generally true, but there can be variations based on the efficiency in extraction, the filter basket size ratio, etc.
Ristretto vs Lungo vs Normale
As you know, the three common classifications of shot lengths – the Ristretto, Normale, and Lungo, contain the same amount of ground coffee but vary in the amount of water and the total volume of the drink.
Typically the total volume of the Ristretto espresso may be half of Normale, while the Lingo may vary anywhere between double to triple the Normale volume. The extraction levels may be the same or may vary.
Hence, against the general intuition, the length does not depend on the extraction time but on the coffee-to-water ratio, which we had listed as one of the major factors impacting the amount of caffeine in the drink. This is sometimes referred to as the brew ratio.
The typical brew ratios for the three are
- Ristretto – 1:1 to 1:1.5,
- Normale – 1:1.5 to 1:2.5,
- Lungo – 1:2.5 to 1:3+ ratio.
To compensate for the extraction times, the level of grind for the coffee is adjusted with ristretto using a finer grind and lungo a course one. This allows a smaller or larger volume in nearly the same extraction times. The larger volume of water in a lungo will result in more extraction in lesser time with lower strength, body, and mouthfeel.
Lower extraction time or lower extraction in the Ristretto results in much less caffeine than the other two.
Is Espresso the Most Caffeinated Coffee?
Contrary to the common understanding that espresso has too much caffeine, the total caffeine contained in espresso is usually much less than in a regular cup of drip coffee. However, as it is a very concentrated drink, the amount of caffeine in the unit volume or the unit weight of espresso is the highest.
Let us see the comparison in the next section.
Espresso Versus Coffee – The Caffeine Levels
For the comparison, it is assumed that you are using the same coffee beans or the same blend. As per Healthline, one cup (8 Oz.) of brewed regular coffee has about 70 to 140 mg of caffeine at an average of 95 mg. 8 oz of French press coffee has a similar range. This translates to approx 9 – 18 mg per oz with an average of 12 mg per oz. The figure listed on the FDA site for the same cup size is 80 to 100 mg.
The caffeine amount in a single shot of espresso is estimated to be around 63 mg by Healthline. Doppio, which is twice the usual size, has about 126 mg of caffeine.
House blend instant coffee drinks carry a lower amount of caffeine than regular ones, but the range shows substantial variation between 30 to 90 mg.
The 8 oz of Turkish coffee has around 160 to 225 mg of caffeine. Any finely ground coffee brewed for a longer time will result in higher levels of caffeine.
Starbucks espresso drinks contain much higher levels than above, with 75 mg in a single shot, which translates to 150 and 225 mg in double and triple shots. The same ratio gets applied to other espresso-based drinks from them. The sizewise caffeine variation in their drinks is
- Short (8 oz): 180 mg
- Tall (12 oz): 260 mg
- Grande (16 oz): 330 mg
- Venti Iced Unsweetened (20 oz): 415 mg
For comparison, the caffeine in a soft caffeinated drink of 12 oz may vary between 30 to 40 mg, while green or black teas of 8 oz servings contain about 30 to 50 mg.
Which kind of espresso has the least caffeine?
The factors affecting the amount of caffeine and the general ranges in espresso and regular coffees prepared by different coffee brewing methods have been covered above. It was also clarified that the Ristretto has the least caffeine. So a Ristretto shot made from the Arabica coffee beans with a lower brew ratio will have the least caffeine.
As stated earlier, the dark roast has a lower amount of caffeine in mg, but the caffeine percentage to its dry weight is the same as any other roast, as long as the type of coffee bean blend remains the same.
Expresso Based Drinks
The expresso-based drinks usually contain espresso shots blended with steamed milk, wet or dry foam, or hot water. All the other contents do not contain any caffeine, so drinks like Caffe lattes, cappuccinos, macchiato, americano, etc., have the same amount of caffeine as the straight espressos.
Caribou coffee breve (medium) has about 180 mg of caffeine. Costa Coffee Americano (medium) has about 275 mg of caffeine.
How many shots of espresso is too much?
Considering the limit of 400 mg of caffeine consumption in a day and 75 mg of Caffeine per shot, a healthy middle-aged individual can consume a maximum of 5 shots daily. If you consume other things like tea, soft drinks, chocolates, etc., you need to account for them as well and go in for a lesser number of shots. A maximum of 3 per day is good for your health as you can also avoid developing any kind of caffeine sensitivity.
How can I reduce my consumption of caffeine in coffee?
You can take the following steps to reduce your daily caffeine consumption, as I do.
- Limit drinking espresso to a maximum of two to three shots daily.
- Order a smaller drink in the cafe or brew a smaller serving if you prepare it at home.
- You can go in for a decaf coffee or a decaf espresso, as they contain much lower caffeine content. Decaf Espresso single Shot has about 8 mg, while an instant Decaf Coffee (8 oz) has 2-12 milligrams of caffeine.
Can I have an Espresso before the workout?
Many athletes are known to take coffee and other caffeine products one hour before endurance events or where sustained high-intensity activity is required. They do so to increase alertness, attention, and coordination and to reduce pain and fatigue.
Caffeine is not on the prohibited list of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) but in its monitoring program to detect patterns of misuse.
It also has higher levels of polyphenols (chlorogenic acids), which can help prevent inflammation and oxidative damage from intense exercise.
Hopefully, all your questions about the caffeine in espresso and espresso-based drinks have been answered by the above article. Write to us in the comments section below.