MYTH: Espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee and darker roasted coffee has more caffeine than lighter roasted coffee.
BUSTED: Caffeine content is directly related to the amount of coffee used to make the beverage.
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We’ve all probably heard a ton of theories about people trying to maximize (or minimize) the amount of caffeine in their coffee drink of choice. We may or may not have heard the following things spoken about caffeine:
“Give me a cup of your high-octane coffee.”
“I want the biggest size of your boldest roast; I barely got any sleep last night and I need an extra jolt of rocket fuel.”
“I can’t drink espresso right now; I’ll be up ‘til 3am re-watching ‘Parks and Rec’ for the 30th time trying to fall asleep! Just give me a large drip coffee.”
We get it; there’s LOTS of info out there surrounding caffeine content. So, it’s easy to take a theory and run with it. (And speaking of theories, apparently there’s one that Breaking Bad is a Walking Dead prequel? Sorry, got sidetracked researching TV show theories. Back to regularly scheduled coffee programming.) We’re here to provide a little clarity to the great caffeine debate; it’s quite simple actually:
More Coffee = More Caffeine
So, for example, at Crema, we use 18 grams of coffee for a double shot of espresso. A 12-ounce cup of drip coffee typically uses about 25 grams of coffee. Because more coffee is used to make a drip coffee, you’ll be taking in more caffeine.
A double shot of espresso (approx. 2 ounces) would have about 126 mg of caffeine and a 12-ounce cup of drip coffee clocks in around 144 mg.
What is true is that, ounce for ounce, espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee — approximately 63 mg/ounce vs. 12 mg/ounce. This is because espresso is extracted at a much higher pressure than drip coffee, so we extract more out of the coffee overall, which includes the available caffeine. But, you’re still only taking in 2 ounces of that caffeine-potent liquid espresso and we’re guessing you drink more than 2 ounces of drip coffee at a time. (And, if you DO only drink 2 ounces of drip coffee at a time, are you just, like, throwing the rest of it away? Are you making the tiniest pour over in the world? If you are, we want to hear from you, especially if you have a tiny pour over device. We love mini things.)
As far as those dark roasts go, the longer (darker) you roast a coffee, the less dense the coffee bean is. The less dense a coffee bean, the less it weighs. So, technically, it may take just the tiniest little bit more darker roasted coffee beans than lighter roasted beans to make the same cup of coffee. However, this weight difference is pretty much negligible, so the caffeine content will not significantly differ, if at all. 2
So, there you have it. Want more caffeine? Drink more (grams/ounces/pounds?! of) coffee. That’s a theory we can get behind.