What Type of Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?

Are you falling asleep in line at the coffee shop again and wondering which type of coffee to go with?

Should you take an espresso, a flat white, or a drip coffee?

What about the roast: light or dark?

If you’re like me and like your coffee with an extra kick in the butt, you may be wondering what type of coffee has the most caffeine.





Decaf coffee (instant)

8 fl. oz.

2 - 3 mg

0.25 - 0.38 mg

Decaf coffee (brewed)

8 fl. oz.

3 - 4 mg

0.38 - 0.5 mg

Drip coffee

8 fl. oz.

65 - 120 mg

8.13 mg - 15 mg

Brewed Coffee

8 fl. oz.

95 mg

11.88 mg

Cold brew coffee

16 fl.oz

200 mg

12.5 mg 

Nitro Coffee (Nitro Cold Brew Coffee)

16 fl .oz.

325 mg

20.31 mg


2 fl. oz. (1 shot)

60 - 102.67 mg

30 - 51.34 mg

Highly-caffeinated coffee (e.g. Death Wish Coffee, Biohazard Coffee, etc.)

12 fl. oz.

702 - 928 mg

58.5 - 77.33 mg

Type of Bean

The best place to start our search is at the source. There are two main species of coffee plant that find their way to your cup: Arabica and Robusta.

In general, Arabica beans are regarded as higher quality than Robusta beans.

Though Robusta plants are much easier to farm than Arabica, it has a strong, bitter-earth taste. Arabica, on the other hand, is known for its sweet and fruity flavors.

Arabica may be the more popular of the two, yet Robusta is the clear winner in the caffeine competition. 

On average, Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans.

Robusta is easy to find as it is almost always the bean of choice for cheaper, supermarket-ready brands. Though most craft roasters use Arabica beans, you can find high quality Robusta roasts with a little digging.

Type of Roast

There is a popular myth floating around that dark roasts have more caffeine than light roasts. 

Unlike the myth of the Loch Ness monster (oh, it's real), dark roasts do not have more caffeine than light roasts.Many coffee know-it-alls say that lighter roasts have the most caffeine, but they are wrong as well.

Bean for bean, both roasts have about the same amount of caffeine, though it is a bit more complicated than that.

When beans are roasted, they lose some of their mass, so dark-roasted beans, which have been cooked longer, weigh less than light-roasted beans. Therefore, a pound of dark roast will have slightly more beans than a pound of light roast.


When you brew, if you measure out your beans by volume (like with a scoop), the light roast will produce a more caffeinated coffee. However, if you measure by weight, then the dark roast coffee will have more caffeine.

If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry, this puzzle had me confused for a while as well.

Look at it this way:

One cup of light roast is going to have more caffeine than one cup of dark roast, because light roasts have heavier and denser beans. Though the volume is the same, the light roast will have more mass.

If you measure out 20 grams of light roast and 20 grams of dark roast, the dark roast will have more caffeine because it has more volume. Both weigh the same, but since dark roast beans are less dense, you will have more of them.

Still confused? Check this explanatory video:

If you want to try out roasting on your own, check out how-to guide for the home.

Type of Beverage

It may seem obvious that espresso has more caffeine than a standard 8 oz. cup of drip coffee, but it actually doesn’t.

Your average 8 oz. drip coffee has between 70–140 mg of caffeine, whereas a shot of espresso (about 1.5 oz.) has between 60–80 mg of caffeine.

So if we are going by beverage type, then drip coffee is the better choice; however, espresso has more caffeine per volume than drip coffee.

For every ounce, espresso has about 40–55 mg of caffeine. Drip has only 9–18 mg of caffeine per ounce.

If you make your espresso a double shot then you are getting either just as much or more caffeine than you would with a regular cup of drip coffee, yet it’s going to take quite a bit of espresso to beat the dreaded 20 oz. Starbucks Venti.

THE VERDICT - What Type of Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?

So, what type of coffee has the most caffeine?

Well, that depends, there are a few option.

These coffee beans have been engineered to have high levels of caffeine.

A double shot of espresso will beat a standard size drip brew any day of the week, but it can’t beat any drip brew over 10 oz.

Regardless, if you want to ensure your a high caffeine concentration, then choose whichever is brewed with Robusta beans.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. And please share this article if you enjoyed it!


Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments
Christina - September 30, 2017

I love it!! Thank you so much!!

Poorya - March 25, 2018

Thank u, it was helpful

Hailey - April 13, 2018

What about at Mcdonalds?

    Alex - September 4, 2018

    Never drink coffee from Mcdonalds

J - August 12, 2018

This doesn’t make sense… If bean for bean the darker and lighter beans have the same caffeine value, then darker roasts would have more caffeine no matter what measurement you chose. If you measure with volume you’re going to have more beans in a cup therefore more caffeine

JD - September 3, 2018

For we who are simple minded how about just making up a chart showing from the least caffeinated to the most caffeinated.
Start with decaf and move up the scale from there.
All the extra wording that I’ve read is confusing.
Keep it simple.
If that’s possible.

Coffee Recipes to Make at Home - December 19, 2018

[…] two main varietals are arabica and robusta. Then decide on what kind of roast you want and how much caffeine is right for […]


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