If you have a daily coffee drink to give you that morning pick me up or afternoon jolt of energy, you’re not alone. The typical latte or mocha has a moderate amount of caffeine with just one or two shots of espresso. But what if you doubled it? I’ll tell you just how much caffeine is in 4 shots of espresso.
Among coffee lovers like me, there are those who like their espresso drinks strong. Then there are those who like them really strong! We’re talking the quad shot crowd. But if you’ve ever wondered just how much caffeine that amounts to, you’re in luck, because I’m going to answer this brewing question.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a single shot of espresso contains 64 milligrams of caffeine. So multiply that by four, and a “quad” shot of espresso has around 256 mg of caffeine.
☕️ To put that in context, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults not exceed 400 mg of caffeine intake a day. That means just a couple of quad shot drinks puts you well over the limit.
But caffeine levels can vary depending on the type of coffee beans used and the brewing method. Let’s start by breaking down the numbers.
How much caffeine is in 4 shots of espresso at popular coffee chains?
Are you a Starbucks loyalist? Do you prefer to grab an espresso drink at your local McDonald’s drive thru? Or do you have another coffee retailer favorite? Here’s a look at the caffeine content in the espresso-based drinks made by some of the most popular coffee shops.
If you stop by your local Starbucks regularly, you may be interested to know how much caffeine their espresso shots pack.
According to their own ingredients and nutrition information, 2 shots of Starbucks espresso contain on average about 150 mg of caffeine. Starbucks does note that this figure is an approximation, but it’s a bit higher than the average amount of 128 mg. That means a 4-shot espresso drink at Starbucks would have roughly 300 mg of caffeine.
Dunkin’ Donuts claims to have “America’s Favorite Coffee.” But it also has among the country’s strongest in terms of caffeine content. A medium latte of theirs, which includes a doppio or double espresso, has about 166mg of caffeine. That means a quad shot would come in at 332 mg. That’s higher caffeine content than most other coffee chains.
One of the bigger coffee chains in the western U.S., Peet’s is a popular alternative to other larger coffee retailers. But how does it stack up to them when it comes to caffeine levels?
Per their website, Peet’s says a single shot of espresso in their drinks contains around 70 mg of caffeine. So a drink with four shots of espresso would clock in at 280 mg, on the lower end of the spectrum compared to Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.
McDonald’s has a wide range of coffee drinks along with their fast food menu. So how do they rank in terms of caffeine? In general, a medium espresso drink like a latte from McDonald’s has about 142 mg of caffeine, which has 2 caffeine shots.
That means a McDonald’s coffee drink with 4 shots of espresso would total about 284 mg of caffeine.
What can affect caffeine levels in espresso?
So why do caffeine levels vary so much from one retailer to another? This has to do with a number of factors, from the type of beans used and how they’re roasted, to the brewing method.
Type of beans
Some coffee beans are naturally stronger than others when it comes to caffeine. For example, Robusta coffee beans have about 3 mg of caffeine per bean. That’s compared to Arabica beans, which have about 2 mg. Most coffee retailers use the latter, but if your local coffee shop prefers Robusta beans, you may get an extra caffeine jolt.
The way the coffee beans are roasted can also have a large effect on the amount of caffeine that ends up in your coffee drink. Beans that are roasted longer, dark roasts for example, have less caffeine than lighter roasts. That’s because the caffeine dissipates the longer the beans are roasted.
So if you opt for an espresso drink with blonde roast beans, it will likely have more caffeine.
This factor can be the most variable when it comes to the caffeine in your coffee. Everything from the temperature of the water, to how much hot water is used, to the extent the ground coffee was packed before brewing can affect the strength of the drink and its caffeine levels.
Specific brewing techniques can also play a large role. For example, cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground beans in water for several hours. That extracts more coffee over time and results in higher levels of caffeine. For comparison, a 16 oz Starbucks cold brew has 205 mg caffeine, whereas a 16 oz Starbucks latte has 150 mg.
Does coffee have more caffeine than espresso?
This question really comes down to the size of the drink. Brewed cups of coffee generally come in large sizes, from 8 oz to 20 oz on average. A single shot of espresso is around 1 oz.
Again, the brewing method, roast, and type of beans can affect the levels in brewed regular coffee so it can vary depending on where and how it’s made. A 16 oz cup of coffee can have a lot of caffeine, as much as 400 mg.
To illustrate how these differences can play out, let’s take a look at a couple of Starbucks brewed coffee drinks. A 16 oz Starbucks dark roast coffee has 260mg of caffeine. The same-size blonde roast has 360 mg. That’s 100 mg more caffeine, just based on the type of roast used.
So while espresso has more caffeine content per fluid ounce, the average cup of coffee can have more caffeine overall depending on the size of the drink.
👉🏼 Related: How Many Scoops of Coffee for 12 Cups?
How much caffeine is in decaf espresso?
Despite the name, decaf espresso and decaf coffee are not entirely free of caffeine. The methods used to extract the caffeine from the beans are only 97% effective. So a small amount is still left behind. That means a shot of decaf espresso can have around 3 mg of caffeine. And a 12 oz cup of regular brewed coffee can include around 6 mg of caffeine.
A double shot of espresso contains an average of 128 mg of caffeine, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That figure can vary depending on the type of beans used and how they’re roasted, among other factors.
The USDA notes that a single espresso shot contains around 64 mg of caffeine. So if you ordered a 16oz espresso-based coffee drink with 2 shots of espresso, it would contain 128 mg of caffeine.
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