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How Much Caffeine is in a Shot of Espresso? Not Enough

Dave Carter

July 9, 2019

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.

So...

Many...

Questions...

  • ​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!

Caffeine in Shot of Espresso

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?

Details on 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 Strong is a Single Shot Espresso Caffeine?

On hectic mornings, you may find yourself switching up your regular cup of joe for a couple of shots of espresso. After all, the rich and highly concentrated brew has a reputation for being an eye-opener, literally. However, you may wonder, how much Caffeine is in a Shot of Espresso and in a Cup of Coffee? There's no single answer here as it turns out that it depends on what you consider a 'cup' of coffee. However, generally, a single serving or an ounce of espresso contains around 64 milligrams of caffeine, based on the Department of Agriculture's nutritional information. In contrast, regular brewed coffee has approximately 12 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.

So, technically, espresso has more caffeine, making it more potent and robust than your regular cup of coffee. However, nobody drinks just an ounce of brewed coffee, as the standard serving for it is at least 8 ounces, and that totals up to 95 to 128 milligrams of caffeine. That's why if you drink that much amount of coffee compared to a single shot, the brewed coffee would likely pack a more potent punch. However, it's worth noting that coffee and espresso caffeine content vary significantly among brands, depending on the type of bean, roast, amount of coffee used, and brewing method.

For instance, a single shot of espresso from Starbucks has around 75 milligrams of caffeine. This is different from an 8-ounce cup of coffee which has 155 milligrams. But because a shot of espresso is highly concentrated, it may appear more robust than regular coffee. Although espresso may be a little bitter than regular brewed coffee, the real strength lies in not the way it's made like select variations such as a latte—but in the way it's roasted. Coffee comes in three roast levels, light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.

Generally, the more coffee beans get roasted, the more flavorful and delicious they become. As such, dark roasted coffee beans are said to be the most potent type of coffee. So, when you take ground dark roasted coffee beans and make a shot or two out of them, you'll likely get a coffee that's more robust than your standard brewed coffee.

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

Shot of Espresso

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

Espresso​

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.

Coffee

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.

Higher mg of Caffeine in Espresso and why many people prefer it

High mg of Caffeine in Espresso

Coffee is well-known to possess high levels of caffeine, mostly in espresso. There's around 40 to 60 mg of caffeine in espresso, whereas your standard brewed coffee has approximately 10 mg per ounce. When we talk about concentration, espresso has more caffeine, making it more robust. From an overall coffee drink perspective, the high caffeine concentration in espresso makes it a favorite drink to many. This brings us to wonder why many people prefer higher Amounts of Caffeine.

Studies have proven that a person naturally more sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine tends to drink more. However, those with higher sensitivity to PROP and quinine, or caffeine in general, drink less coffee. Although it may seem to contradict that the individuals more sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine are likely to be heavy coffee drinkers, experts have well documented the stimulating effects of the substance on one's brain. All these assumptions lead a person to believe that this response acts as favorable reinforcement. That's why regular coffee drinkers may develop the ability to detect caffeine or acquire a taste for it.

That said, here are more reasons why people like drinking coffee with high caffeine content.

  • It Improves Performance
    Numerous experts and studies have proven that caffeine can improve alertness and wakefulness in many drinkers. In one research study with over 9,000 adults, experts linked caffeine to dose-dependent enhancements. It also aids in visuospatial reasoning, standard reaction time, choice reaction time and is more common in older adults than younger adults. All these indicated that the drinkers experienced better performance in most activities after consuming large amounts of caffeine.
  • It Helps in Weight Loss
    Caffeine can change your body's ideal metabolic substrate from glycogen to lipids, increasing lipolysis, stimulating hormone-sensitive lipase. That is why when you consume high doses of caffeine, whether in coffee or energy drinks, it kicks protein kinase A into action. This is a crucial enzyme stimulating lipid that aids glucose metabolism. The two activities in the human body are both responsible for weight loss.
  • It Improves Mood and Brain Function
    Caffeine can block the brain-signaling molecule adenosine—causing a relative increase in other signaling molecules. An increase in dopamine and norepinephrine brings a change in brain messaging to benefit a person's mood and brain function.

Drinking coffee can provide individuals with several health benefits, and it's all thanks to its caffeine content.

How Many Ounces is an Espresso Shot

It's no secret that espresso is one of the most popular coffee drinks out there, but have you ever wondered how many ounces is an espresso shot? An espresso shot is often considered one fluid ounce, while a doppio or double shot is two fluid ounces. One fluid ounce is approximately 30 milliliters instead of an ounce by weight, which is 28 grams. This volume pertains to a single espresso volume or the water passed through the espresso coffee beans. The coffee's weight for one espresso shot is usually 7 grams and 14 grams for a double shot, which you can adjust according to your tastes.

How many mg of caffeine in espresso? Well to determine how much mg of caffeine your drink has, you can measure with your espresso machine. You can change a single espresso shot up to 9 grams and 18 grams for a double shot, depending on your espresso machine and how strong you like your brew. Meanwhile, most coffee machines are calibrated to apply a set amount of pressure measured in bars to a given volume of water, resisted by the espresso grounds inside the portafilter. Espresso grounds that are too fine will withstand the pressure of the water too much, while a grind that's too coarse will let it go through too fast, resulting in an under-extracted brew. Ensure to take the correct amounts to avoid the Problem with 6 shots of espresso a day that may eventually arise.

A double shot espresso is mostly used in most espresso-based drink recipes, including Cafe Mocha and Dulce de Leche, ensuring the flavor of the coffee comes through potent enough relative to the other ingredients added. But when brewing more complex beverages or bigger servings like the espresso Granita, it's best to use a doppio per 8 to 12 ounces of the finished brew. For cold espresso-based drinks, ensure to chill your espresso shots in the refrigerator before mixing them with other ingredients to ensure the espresso's warmth doesn’t turn the overall drink luke-warm.

Additionally, famous espresso variations like the ristretto have around half an ounce 15 milliliters of water passed through the same amount of coffee beans, specifically in the first 15 milliliters—and the shot is cut short. Therefore, a double shot of ristretto gives you around the same quantity of fluid of a single regular ounce, around 30 milliliters. However, it takes more time, coffee, and effort since you will be doing the process twice.

The Problem With 6 Shots of Espresso a Day

Problem With 6 Shots of Espresso a Day

Only a few things get people out of bed and motivated in the morning, such as a strong cup of espresso. The tantalizing coffee aroma can amplify one's anticipation, with the first hot sip helping anyone feel like they can do anything, even during odd hours of the day. How many mg of caffeine in espresso? You may ask, well, this entirely depends on the amount of espresso you will take. However, although consuming two to three per day is ideal, what happens when you go overboard and drink 6 shots of espresso a day? Why many people prefer higher Amounts of Caffeine is a puzzle yet to be solved. Most people are aware of the side effects that may arise from too much caffeine intake but cannot go slow on the drink. Besides giving you a significant spike in energy, here are other things you may experience when downing six shots of espresso every day.

  • It May Cause Insomnia
    Consuming too much espresso can overload you with caffeine, leaving you energized throughout the day and keeping you up at night. After all, caffeine is a stimulant, impeding one's regular sleep. Plus, it can take around six hours for half of the caffeine you consumed to leave your system.
  • It May Harm Your Baby (If You are Pregnant)
    When you are pregnant, you need to give up on many things, and one sacrifice is espresso. Although you can still consume moderate amounts of the drink, going overboard can harm you and your baby over time. That is why it is best to keep your caffeine up to 200 milligrams every day, and you will be fine.
  • Spikes Blood Pressure
    Although espresso can be great for your heart when consumed in moderation, there is a downside to this. Drinking too much espresso and other caffeinated drinks can spike your blood pressure to dangerous levels, blocking hormones that help keep your arteries widened and in ideal condition. The tipping point and harmful amount of caffeine are around 450 milligrams of caffeine every day, so as long as you keep your consumption below this, you will be fine.
  • Stomach Issues
    Unfortunately, not everyone has a tolerance for robust espresso and coffee drinks. Those with stomach issues may find the coffee brews' acidity harmful to their bodies, causing a burning sensation upon exposure to the sensitive tissue. Generally, the more caffeine content the espresso has, the more likely you are to experience uncomfortable stomach issues.

Although drinking a shot or two of espresso every day isn't as bad, ensure you do not go over the recommended 200 mg of caffeine intake every day to avoid experiencing any of the conditions mentioned.

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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