If you’re wondering which coffee has the most caffeine, you’re in the right place. I spent 2 full days researching the caffeine content of different types of coffee.
Here’s your answer: in general, cold brew coffee has the most caffeine because it’s brewed for longer. But if we’re talking about brand, the winner is Devil Mountain Black Label at 1555 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce cup. Yikes!
Want more details? I spent 2 full days researching the caffeine content of different types of coffee.
So the rest of this article will dive into the factors that affect the caffeine content in your coffee.
We’ll then outline the caffeine levels in different coffees, so you know how to manage your daily caffeine intake. And as an extra treat, we’ll list 5 brands of coffee at the end of the article which have insane amounts of caffeine in them.
So keep reading to find out more about the caffeine content in different coffees!
Why is caffeine content important?
“Decaf? No thanks, it’s dangerous to dilute my caffeine” – Unknown
Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive drug on planet earth. People all over the world use it to boost their mood and kick start their mornings. Especially if they’re feeling a little extra sleepy ;).
Coffee does this because it contains caffeine. This is a compound that blocks the release and action of adenosine from its receptors. So it prevents drowsiness.
And it can improve mental performance, enhance focus, and help you stay alert when working. I like to drink it right before I start work every morning and before I go to the gym as a pre-workout beverage.
This means that knowing the amount of caffeine in your java is crucial if you want to remain alert. It’s also critical if you’re keen on managing your daily caffeine intake.
But some people don’t want these benefits. For example, if you’re about to take an afternoon nap, then the less caffeine the better.
And what if you’re sensitive to caffeine? In that case, you definitely want to know how much caffeine you’re throwing back.
So let’s dive into the factors that affect caffeine levels in coffee.
What affects the caffeine content?
There are three factors that affect the caffeine content in coffee. These are:
- The brewing process
- The type of beans
- Serving size
The brewing process is the first factor. As a general rule, the longer you brew your coffee, the higher the caffeine content.
For example, Starbucks steep their cold brew coffee in water for up to 70 hours. So it has a very high caffeine content – a nitro cold brew has 280 mg of caffeine.
Bean type is the second factor… and this one is pretty simple.
There are two types of coffee bean: Arabica and Robusta.
Robusta beans have more caffeine in them. This is why instant coffee has more caffeine, since most brands use thes types of beans.
Arabica beans are of a 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 [LINK: https://www.thekitchn.com/coffee-basics-the-difference-b-41949 ].
Bottom line: if you want more caffeine, choose a coffee made from Robusta beans.
And finally, the third factor is the service size. Pretty obvious, I know. But the more coffee in your cup then the more caffeine you’re consuming. This is why a cup of drip coffee has more caffeine in it than a shot of espresso. Even though the espresso has more caffeine per fluid ounce.
This is why cold brew has the most caffeine – it’s serving size is large, as well as the fact that it’s brewed for longer.
But Wait… What About the Roast?
Many people think that the amount of caffeine will depend on the roast (light or dark). They think that dark roast has more caffeine than light roast. Not true my friend….
The roasting process has little effect on the caffeine in your favorite beverage. After the roasting process, each coffee bean has the same amount of caffeine as before.
But… roasting does create porosity in the coffee beans. These pores mean than each bean weighs less after roasting than before. So if we’re talking about weight, you need a larger number of dark roast beans to equal the same weight as a light roast. Since the amount of caffeine is the same in dark roast and light roast, dark roast will have a higher caffeine content IF we’re measuring by weight only.
So if the weight of the beans for a dark roast and light roast is the same, then there will be more caffeine in the dark roast.
Caffeine by Coffee type
Here, we’ll present a list of different coffees, along with their caffeine amounts. And we’ll list them from low caffeine content to high caffeine content.
NOTE: these caffeine values are approximate and may differ slightly depending on where you get your coffee.
- a higher volume will lead to more caffeine. So a double shot of espresso will have more caffeine than a single shot.
- An espresso has more caffeine per unit volume than drip coffee. But because the volume of a cup of drip coffee is higher, then it has more caffeine than an espresso.
- A longer brewing process will lead to more caffeine. A cold brew coffee has more caffeine than regular drip coffee because it’s brewed longer.
- Robusta beans have more caffeine than Arabica beans.
It’s tough to give exact values – the same coffee will have different caffeine levels depending on size. And where you get it.
Anyway, let’s jump right in.
- Espresso – as already mentioned, an espresso has the most coffee per unit volume. But since it’s size is so small, it has the lowest amount of caffeine on this list. Caffeine: about 75 mg
- Latte – next up is the latte, which is the weakest coffee you can get. It’s has about 6 ounces of steamed milk and only one ounce of coffee. So if a strong caffeine kick in the morning isn’t your bag, then a latte is a good choice. Caffeine: about 150 mg for a medium. But a small latte might only have 68 mg because it contains only one espresso.
- Cappuccino – More or less the same as a latte. Caffeine: 150 mg for a medium.
- A flat white – A flat white has more coffee per unit volume than a latte, making it stronger. Caffeine: about 190 mg.
- Americano – this beverage beats the previous entries since there’s no milk or foam and the serving size is large. Caffeine: about 220 mg.
- Cold brew – the highest amount of caffeine, since it has the longest brewing process and has a large volume. Caffeine: about 280 mg.
What about decaf?
You might be wondering about decaf coffee. Should you drink it if you’re caffeine sensitive or don’t want any caffeine in your coffee?
I don’t like decaf coffee. There I said it. The process uses chemicals to remove the caffeine. And these chemicals may be harmful if consumed on a regular basis.
Also, decaf coffee isn’t always completely 100% caffeine-free. In fact, USDA regulations state that coffee shops can call it “decaf” if it’s 97% caffeine-free. That extra 3% is still enough to affect you if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
So there you have it. Cold brew is generally the best choice for caffeine addicts!
But we’re not done yet. In the next section, we’ll list some brands with outrageous amounts of caffeine in them.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you :).
Caffeine by Brand
Here are some brands with insane amounts of caffeine in them. I don’t drink any of these, but I’m including them here for the sake of completeness.
I wouldn’t recommend indulging in one of these coffees very often… unless you have some weird desire to vibrate through walls. Consuming too much caffeine can make you jittery, nervous – even a little anxious. So buyer beware and all that…
(For a handy graphical summary, check out the bar chart at the end).
At the top of the list we’ve got Devil Mountain Black Label at 1555 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce cup. Holy s**t!
Next up is Biohazard Coffee, with 928 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce cup.
Then there’s Death Wish Coffee, with 728 mg per 12-ounce cup.
Next, we have Black Insomnia with 702 mg per 12-ounce cup.
Finally, we have Killer Coffee, with 645 mg per 12-ounce cup.
For reference, an 8-ounce cup of coffee from a French Press only has 80-135 mg caffeine.
What to do next?
Be sure not to overdo it on caffeine! I know this is strange advice given that you’re on a coffee website. But those brands in the last section will have you blasting off into outer space if you’re not careful.
You now know that the caffeine content of a coffee depends on the serving size, bean type, and brewing process. Cold brew has the most caffeine content since its brewed longer. And it has a large volume. An espresso has the least amount of caffeine, due to its size.
That’s it for this article! If you have any questions, you can drop us a line here.