How much caffeine is in a double espresso? Or even just a single espresso?
These numbers are important to know if you’re trying to stay within the recommended limit of 400 mg of caffeine per day.
And the answer will vary depending on the source.
But in general a typical shot of espresso contains anywhere from 30 mg to 75 mg of caffeine. Some sources say it can even creep up to 100 mg.
That means your average double espresso contains about 60 – 150 mg of caffeine.
The reason why it varies is that many factors will determine the caffeine content in an espresso. It’s never simple, is it?
Want more details?
My name is Colm O’Regan. And as I’ve stated many times on this site, I’m a coffee nut who probably drinks too much of the stuff every morning. But since I love all things coffee, I went ahead and did some research over the last 2-3 days so you don’t have to.
So keep reading if you want more information about the amount of caffeine in an espresso.
And don’t forget to check out our article on which coffee has the most caffeine. We also have an article on cold brew vs iced coffee if you’re the kind of person who prefers their coffee cold (hey, no judgment :)).
Let’s get specific
What exactly is an espresso?
Basically, it’s a concentrated shot of coffee. It’s made by using pressure to force hot water through espresso-fine grounds. This is why an espresso shot contains the highest amount of caffeine per unit volume.
Now to be specific, a single espresso shot uses 7 g of fine grounds. This gives a coffee volume of 30 ml – at least if we’re talking about a traditional Italian espresso. And a double shot uses 14 g, giving 60 ml of coffee.
CoffeeChemistry states the amount of caffeine in an espresso is 30 mg to 50 mg. So the amount in a double espresso can be anywhere from 60 mg to 100 mg.
For comparison, a cup of drip coffee can have up to 200 mg of caffeine.
And by the way, according to the USDA, the amount of caffeine in a single espresso is 63 mg per fluid ounce. Since the standard espresso size is 0.75 ounces, you’ll get 75 mg of caffeine. And that means there’s 150 mg of caffeine in a 1.5 ounce double espresso.
See, the details vary depending on the source. Nobody said this was straightforward :).
Anyway, let’s dive into the reasons the caffeine levels in an espresso (and hence a double espresso) will vary.
What determines the caffeine level in an espresso shot?
There are two main reasons the caffeine content will vary.
- The type of beans used
- The type (or volume) of espresso
Let’s talk about the first.
Types of coffee beans
Bean type is the first factor… and this one is pretty simple.
There are two main types of coffee beans used in coffee. The first is Arabica beans and the second is Robusta beans.
Robusta beans have more caffeine in them. This is why instant coffee tends to have more caffeine – most brands of instant coffee use Robusta beans.
Arabica beans are higher quality, so you’ll find them in artisan coffees. But they have less caffeine in them.
In general, Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine in them as Arabica beans
Now in Italy, they make espresso coffee using Robusta beans. But in the West, particularly the United States, Arabica beans are used more often. In fact, Starbucks uses Arabica beans to make their espresso.
The reason for this is the flavor. Robusta beans have a more bitter flavor, but Arabica beans tend to have a more “refined” flavor. This is because the coffee cherries have more time to develop.
So if your espresso is made from Arabica beans (like in Starbucks) then it’ll have a lower caffeine content.
So what’s the second factor?
Espresso comes in various forms. You may have heard of these, especially if you have an espresso machine at home.
The three main types are:
- Espresso Normale
The difference lies in the volume of coffee in each. A Lungo, which is 45 – 60 ml of espresso, has the most caffeine content (everything else being equal). Normale is 30 ml of espresso so has less caffeine content. And the Ristretto has the least amount of caffeine since it’s only about 20 ml of coffee.
All three will use the same weight of dried coffee. But the volume of water is different. A Ristretto (which has less volume than a Lungo) might feel like it’s more potent, but that’s usually because you drink it faster. Not because there’s more caffeine in it.
OK, let’s wrap this up
A single espresso will have roughly 30 mg to 75 mg of caffeine. And a double espresso will have about 60 – 150 mg of caffeine.
Either way, you don’t risk exceeding the 400 mg daily maximum – just remember that a regular cup of French Press or drip coffee will have more caffeine than an espresso.
And the reason for the variation in caffeine? It comes down to bean type – Arabica or Robusta – as well as the type of espresso: Ristretto, Normale, or Lungo.
Wondering what to do now?
Thanks for reading!