How Much Caffeine In a Shot of Espresso?

How much caffeine in a shot of espresso is there really? It is a common misconception that a shot of espresso contains more caffeine than other variations of coffee. There are several ways to prepare coffee from freshly ground beans. It can be through drip machines, the simple French coffee press, the super automatic espresso machine, and the small espresso machine.




  • ​What is an espresso really?
  • Why do they come in shots?
  • Is it really a shot of concentrated caffeine that most people thought it is?
  • Is it better or worse than other brewed coffee types?

We'll cover all of that in this post, and more!

Part of the reason why most people believe that espresso contains more caffeine than other brewed types is that caffeine is intensely bitter. And because espresso is a darker roast, it has more “bitter” molecules. This may seem like a logical connection to arrive at such a belief, but it is quite wrong. 

The bitter compounds that come from dark roasts are not because of the caffeine content, rather, they are created during the Maillard reaction. In fact, espressos tend to have a lower concentration of caffeine which allows Italians to drink up to 10 shots of espressos per day without experiencing caffeine overdose.  If you’ll try drinking a dozen of drip coffee, you’ll likely have those jittery feelings or worse, experience having excessively high levels of caffeine in your system.

How Much Caffeine is in Shot of Espresso?

How much caffeine there is in your espresso basically depends on the size of your cup. One shot of espresso is usually an ounce, this contains about 63 milligrams of caffeine. Compared with a coffee of the same size, espressos may have slightly more caffeine content. But since no one takes just one ounce of coffee. A person is likely to have at least  8 ounces of coffee per sitting and this is around 95 to 128 milligrams of caffeine already.

Caffeine content for espresso and other types of coffee vary among the different brands, type of beans, roast, the amount used and the method of preparation.  For instance, a shot of espresso from Starbucks has around 75 mg of caffeine and an 8-ounce cup of medium coffee from Costa Coffee has about 155 mg.

But why do people feel a bigger jolt with espresso than with other types of coffee? This is probably because a shot of espresso is chugged down in one swing while a cup of coffee is sipped rather slowly.

How much Caffeine is in a Shot of Espresso and in a Cup of Coffee?

Caffeine levels in a shot of espresso and in a cup of coffee vary widely depending on variables such as preparation, amount of coffee used and the number of ounces per cup.

Espresso is a concentrated coffee drink which comes from the extracted essence of roasted coffee beans using pressure and heat. Some estimated levels of caffeine in various espresso drinks are:

  • Single Shot: 29-100 milligrams (average of 75 milligrams)
  • Double Shot: 58-185 milligrams (around 150 milligrams on the average)
  • Decaf Espresso, Single Shot: Around 8 milligram
  • Decaf Double: Around 16 milligrams

On the other hand, this list will give you a general idea of the caffeine levels  of your preferred coffee drinks:

  • Greek, Turkish or Boiled Coffee (8 oz cup) - from 160 to 240 mg, average of 200 mg
  • Drip Brewed Arabica (6 oz cup) - from 80 to 130 mg, usually 110 mg
  • Drip Brewed Robusta (6 oz cup) - from 140 to 200 mg
  • Drip Brewed Single Serve Pod (6 oz) - from 75 to 150 mg
  • Drip Brewed Low Caffeine Blend (6 oz) - from 40 to 60 mg
  • Drip Brewed Decaf (8 oz) - from 2 to 12 mg, but some tests show higher
  • French Coffee Press (8 oz) - from 80 to 135 mg, an average of 108 mg
  • Instant Coffee (8 oz) - from 23 to 175 mg, often 65 to 90 mg
  • Instant Decaf (8 oz) - from 2-12 mg
  • Percolated Coffee (5 oz) - from 80 to 135 mg


The espresso is the least understood method of preparing coffee. Some people think of it as the coffee drink for adrenaline junkies. However, when the first espresso machine was invented in 1901, Luigi Bezzera only wanted to prepare a fast cup of coffee. And in the 1940s, his invention was made even better by Achille Gaggia by making manual levers to “pull a shot” of espresso.

Espressos have that “crema” or froth which appears to have a reddish-brown tint. This comes from the bubbles that come out during the preparation and mixes with oils of finely ground coffee. The crema additionally gives the espresso that alluring aroma and sometimes, this is the mark of a perfectly made shot by a skilled barista.

The crema and the espresso’s quick preparation process provides that richer flavor, a longer aftertaste, and lower caffeine content compared with drip coffee. It is a good option for people looking to cut down on caffeine as long as you limit yourself to one shot.

On its own, espresso is served in ‘shots’ which is about an ounce. Double espressos are two shots referred to as “Doppios” and are more popular than single shots.  No matter what size they are, espressos are generally poured into small cups or demitasse which holds 2-3 ounces.

Many coffee houses offer only double shots, while others also offer single espresso shots and lungos. And while a serving is called a “shot,” it is not supposed to be drunk in a single gulp like the way one would take a shot of tequila. It is sipped slowly to really enjoy the full and rich flavor.


Espresso’s full flavor makes it an ideal base for creating coffee mixes. The espresso machine is usually the busiest equipment in any coffee shop. A double espresso shot retains its flavor even when mixed in a 12 or 16 oz coffee cup with milk and other ingredients.

Coffee shop menus have expanded and developed rapidly over the years and now there are many kinds of coffee drinks to choose from. There are simple variations which started with a single or double shot of espresso. These are the popular coffee creations that are espresso based.

  • Cappuccino - A Cappuccino is made with a single shot of espresso mixed with frothed or skimmed milk
  • Caffe latte - usually made with a double shot of espresso and a tall steamed milk drink. Usually, these are flavored with syrups.
  • Caffe Americano - A great alternative to the drip coffee when you want a tall drink without losing that rich flavor. This is a shot of espresso mixed with hot water to make a 6-oz cup of coffee.
  • Red Eye - This is a shot of espresso topped with a regular cup of coffee, it can give you an ultimate caffeine jolt.

Why many people prefer higher Amounts of Caffeine

People remember their first cup of coffee. It was too hot, bitter and tasted terrible. But coffee has promised to provide alertness despite a night of poor sleep. It always delivers its promises and people can no longer walk away from the effects of caffeine.

Some people have faced giving up caffeine and coffee due to some tremors they have experienced and other health conditions including pregnancy, but the cravings always come back whenever they feel better. This is because caffeine stimulates the release of dopamine. This brain neurotransmitter produces euphoria and gives off a wonderful feeling. There are other drugs that produce dopamine but they are mostly illegal.

Coffee makes a person feel really good because it taps into our brain’s reward system. The more caffeine content there is in coffee the better one person feels after a terrible night. This is why people seek coffee drinks with a higher amount of caffeine and often wonder how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso.

These days, it is easy to prepare a cup of espresso even when you are at home.

You can buy an espresso machine or a cappuccino maker for home use. With this handy and convenient coffee making equipment, you can have your coffee fix anytime you want.

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