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What Type of Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?

Are you falling asleep in line at the coffee shop again after just drinking coffee a few hours ago? Should you take an espresso, a flat white, or a brewed 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.

TYPE

SERVING SIZE

CAFFEINE PER SERVING

CAFFEINE PER OZ.

Decaf coffee (instant coffee)

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

Espresso

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, they have a strong, bitter-earth taste. Arabica, on the other hand, is known for its sweet and fruity flavors.

Coffee beans, from green to dark

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 content as Arabica beans (1).

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 darker roasts have more caffeine than light profile roasts.  Unlike the myth of the Loch Ness monster (oh, it's real), these 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 (​2​​​), 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 beans roasted lighter.

Coffee beans in a circle

Source

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 darker roast brewed 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 coffee that is roasted on a light profile is going to have more caffeine than one cup roasted darker, because the lighter the roast, the heavier and denser the beans. Though the volume is the same, the light roast will have more mass.

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

Still confused? Check this explanatory video:

Type of Beverage

It may seem that espresso has higher amounts of caffeine than a standard 8 oz. cup of drip coffee, but it actually doesn't (3).

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. There will be some nasty side effects of unknown caffeine intake, so keep reading.

caffeine infographic

So if we are going by beverage type, then drip coffee is the better choice; however, espresso has more caffeine per volume than brewed coffee (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. Decaf coffee still has small traces of caffeine, and instant coffee is subject to differing levels of caffeine.


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

So which coffee has the most caffeine? Well, that depends, there are a few option. These highly caffeinated beans have been engineered to have high amounts of caffeine. Just be sure you're aware of a safe amount of caffeine intake before consuming coffee like this. The health benefits of coffee can be great in moderation.

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 high caffeine content, 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!

FAQs

Which brand of coffee has the most caffeine?

The coffee brand that has the most caffeine content is Biohazard Coffee, with 928 mg of caffeine per 12-oz. mug. You can read about this and other high-caffeine coffees in our review.

What's the most caffeinated drink?

The most caffeinated drink is Biohazard Coffee, with 928 mg of caffeine per 12-oz. mug. For comparison, most energy drinks contain between 250 and 350 mg caffeine content in servings that vary between 8 and 16 oz.

What coffee is the weakest?

The weakest coffee drink at most cafes is the latte, because it contains a higher percentage of steamed milk than other coffees - typically about one ounce of espresso to as many as 6 oz. of steamed milk.


References

  1. Durand, F. (2019, May 03). Coffee Basics: The Difference Between Arabica and Robusta. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/coffee-basics-the-difference-b-41949
  2. Caffeine Myths: Dark vs. Light. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.kickinghorsecoffee.com/en/blog/caffeine-myths-dark-vs-light
  3. How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee? A Detailed Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-caffeine-in-coffee
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  • Alex
  • October 22, 2016
Alex
 

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!!

Reply
Poorya - March 25, 2018

Thank u, it was helpful

Reply
Hailey - April 13, 2018

What about at Mcdonalds?

Reply
    Alex - September 4, 2018

    Never drink coffee from Mcdonalds

    Reply
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

Reply
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.
Please.

Reply
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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