Sometimes it's just so hard to know which coffee to choose when concerned about caffeine levels. Allow us to shed a little light on the subject.
There are some very common misconceptions regarding coffee. Let's start with some facts. If you wanted a coffee that had very little caffeine, but wasn't a decaf what would you buy? Or, on the other hand, if you wanted a big caffeine kick what would you buy? In truth, coffee can vary wildly in caffeine content depending on a number of factors. Factors such as brewing technique, roast level, bean type, and serving size.
Type of Coffee Beans
There are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine. However, Arabica beans have less caffeine in them than Robusta beans. Arabica beans taste better, too. All of the coffee blends at Verena Street® use 100% Arabica beans.
Lighter roasts have been thought to have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts have a deeper flavor. Yes, you read that right. However, it has been argued both ways. Personally, I get the caffeine shakes from drinking a lighter roast versus a darker roast. I've used the same type of beans (Arabica), water, grinding technique, brewing method and cup size. How can this be explained? During the roasting process, a bean loses it's mass. Also, the density changes in beans the longer they are roasted (they become less dense). So, if you are using a scoop to measure out your ground coffee, the lighter roast will have more caffeine just based on this method alone. If you are weighing out your coffee, then the darker roast will because there is less mass. You'll have to make your own decision regarding this.
Brewing Method and Type of Coffee
The caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee. For example: an 8 oz cup of brewed coffee (which is the most common method in the US and Europe) yields about 70 - 140 mg of caffeine.
Espresso (which is made by forcing a small amount of hot water, or steam, through finely ground coffee beans) has more caffeine per volume than regular coffee. However, it usually contains less per serving, since espresso servings tend to be small. One shot of espresso is typically 1 - 1.75 oz of coffee and has about 63 mg of caffeine. So, a double shot of espresso contains roughly 125 mg of caffeine. The same goes for espresso based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and Americanos.
Instant coffee is made from brewed coffee that has been freeze-dried or spray-dried. It is generally in large, dry pieces, which dissolve in water. Instant coffee usually contains less caffeine than regular coffee, with one 8 oz cup containing roughly 30–90 mg of caffeine.
Although the name may be deceiving, decaf coffee is not entirely free of caffeine. It may contain varying amounts of caffeine, ranging from 0–7 mg per 8 oz cup, with the average cup containing around 3 mg. Our Sunday Drive™ decaf coffee is made using a Swiss Water process of caffeine removal which yields a coffee that is 99.9% caffeine-free.
In order to determine how much caffeine you are consuming in your cup of coffee, first you need to know how big your cup is. The average mug is about 12 - 14 oz with some as big as 24 oz or more. The guidelines above are all figured with an 8 oz serving of coffee. Multiply that times the size of your mug (and how many you consume) to fully realize your caffeine consumption. Coffee shops are also notorious for their large cup sizes, which can range up to 24 oz. The amount of coffee in such cups is equivalent to about 3–5 regular-sized cups of coffee.
Bottom Line: Is Caffeine Something to Worry About?
Coffee is high in anti-oxidants, and many studies have shown that it's good for your health. BUT getting too much caffeine is linked to adverse effects like anxiety, sleep disruptions, heart palpitations and restlessness. Drinking 4 - 6 average cups of coffee per day (about 400 - 600 mg of caffeine) is usually not enough to be harmful for most people. However, caffeine can affect people differently so it's wise to do some experimenting to see how much you can safely tolerate.
So just remember: if you don't want much caffeine in your coffee stick to Arabica beans in a dark roast. Or, buy some decaf. If you want that big jolt of morning caffeine, then a lighter roast is for you. Cheers!