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Caffeinated & Motivated: All About Coffee, Espresso & Their Caffeine Content

Written by Lisette Gavina Lopez.

Love your coffee, but not sure about the caffeine?  Let’s take a closer look at coffee and caffeine and what you can do to have the best of both worlds.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is the coffee plant’s natural defense against insects and pests native to tropical coffee growing regions. Caffeine can be found on the coffee plant’s leaves, cherries and seeds, which once roasted become coffee beans as we know them. Caffeine is extracted from the seeds or green coffee beans via various decaffeination processes, and is later added to soft drinks, cosmetics and over-the-counter medications for its stimulant properties.

Caffeine and brewed coffee

Caffeine content of a 6 oz. cup of regular coffee will range from 60mg to 180mg, depending on the types of coffees used in the blend. For instance, Robusta coffee contains almost twice the amount of caffeine found in Arabica coffee, therefore, a blend containing Robustas will be higher in caffeine than one that is 100 percent Arabica. Your brew strength or coffee-to-water ratio will also determine the caffeine content in your coffee.For examle, caffeine is extracted from the ground coffee beans through the brewing process.As the water passes through the ground coffee into your coffee pot, it extracts the coffee’s soluble solids, including caffeine,  into the carafe. Therefore, the more coffee you use, the greater the caffeine content in your final brew.

Espresso vs. brewed coffee

Contrary to mistaken belief, caffeine content of a 1 ½ ounce cup of espresso coffee, ranging from 90 to 120mg,  is less than a regular 12 oz. cup of coffee, depending on the types of coffees used in the blends and strength of the brew. The truth is that on an ounce-per-ounce basis, brewed coffee is higher in caffeine than a single shot of espresso.

Decaffeinated coffee

Caffeine is extracted from coffee before roasting using one of the four main types of decaffeination methods: Methylene Chloride, Ethyl Acetate, Charcoal or Carbon (Swiss Water Process), and Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The same coffee processed all four ways will taste differently given the different methods, but all  must deliver remove 97 percent of a coffee’s caffeine to qualify as decaffeinated coffee.

Now you that you know a bit more about coffee and caffeine, here are a few tips in case you are concerned about your caffeine intake but don’t want to give up your coffee.

1.  Always purchase 100% Arabica coffee. It contains half the caffeine of Robusta.
2.  Use less coffee in your brew. This way, you will have less caffeine per cup of coffee.
3. Add some decaffeinated coffee into your brew. You don’t have to convert 100 percent to decaf, but by mixing in a few tablespoons you can lighten up your caffeine intake.


Lisette Gavina Lopez
Lisette Gavina Lopez

With a rich coffee heritage that spans 4 generations and a lifetime of coffee learning growing up in the Gaviña family coffee roasting business, Lisette actively works to expand her coffee knowledge and that of foodservice professionals and consumers. Her background is in brand marketing in beauty and coffee, and she is lover of food, art, wine, a.. Read more

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