CAFFEINE in coffee has a bad reputation, with many claims that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as bladder and kidney cancer. Although some experts argue that caffeine has many adverse effects, there are several studies showing many health benefits of consuming coffee.
Caffeine in Coffee:The Good
Recent studies have revealed that moderate coffee drinkers are less prone to developing type-2-diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine is also believed to reduce the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.
Excess coffee drinkers are 40 percent less likely to develop gout (a type of arthritis), while moderate and light coffee drinkers are 8 percent less likely to develop the same condition.Caffeine In Coffee - How Bad Is It Really? Click To Tweet
Moderate coffee drinkers are less prone to alcoholic cirrhosis, plus the caffeine may help slow down the progression of chronic hepatitis C.
Besides caffeine, coffee also contains a number of beneficial antioxidants. Studies suggest that a cup of coffee contains more antioxidants than raspberry, blueberry, grape, or orange juice.
Caffeine in Coffee:The Bad
The negative effects of caffeine on quality sleep are well documented. As a result, it is recommended that you don’t drink coffee 4-6 hours before sleeping.
Studies have also shown that coffee can cause gastric reflux and heartburn in susceptible individuals. Coffee can also increase blood pressure, which is why it is not recommended for individuals suffering from high blood pressure.
Excess coffee intake (540 mg of caffeine per day) can increase the urinary excretion of calcium and make you prone to osteoporosis, especially if your calcium intake is deficient.
Studies have shown that consuming coffee during a meal can substantially reduce iron absorption due to tannins – an organic substance found in vegetables. So, people suffering from anemia should, ideally, take their coffee at least 1-2 hours after their meal.
.How much caffeine is in coffee?
It is widely known that coffee contains caffeine – a stimulant. However, few people are aware that to gain the most benefits without overdoing it, you should only consume a maximum of 200 – 300 mg of caffeine per day.
Light consumers drink 1 cup of coffee per day, which is equivalent to about 180 mg of caffeine
Moderate consumers drink 2 – 3 cups of coffee per day, which is equivalent to 360 – 540 mg of caffeine
Excess consumers drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day, which means that their daily caffeine intake is over 540 mg
If you take into account that there are other foods and drinks that contain caffeine, including tea and soft drinks, it is surprisingly easy to hit the 200 – 300 mg of caffeine daily limit if you consume one cup of coffee with some other source of caffeine.
But the amount of caffeine in your coffee varies considerably depending on:
The type of coffee beans – There are many coffee bean varieties on the market, all of which naturally contain different amounts of caffeine
Type of coffee – The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary considerably depending on whether it is brewed, instant, espresso, or decaf
Roasting – Lighter roasts tend to have higher caffeine content than darker roasts, though the latter have a deeper flavor
Serving size – Your cup of coffee could be any size, from 1 – 24 oz (30 – 700 ml), which significantly affects your caffeine intake.
.How much caffeine is in your cup of coffee?
The biggest determinant of the amount of caffeine in your coffee is the type of coffee that you drink. The caffeine content varies as follows:
1. Brewed coffee
Most of the people in the US and Europe prepare their coffee by brewing. As such, it is also referred to as regular coffee.
Brewed coffee is prepared by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans contained in a filter. One cup of regular coffee (8 oz) has a caffeine content of about 70 – 140 mg, or an average of 95 mg.
There are different techniques in brewing coffee that may also affect the caffeine content of the final cup, including:
- Greek or Turkish
- Concentrate brewing
- Percolating, vacuum brewing
- French press (also known as press pot or plunger coffee) and
- Filter or drip coffee.
The caffeine content varies as follows:
Since brewed coffee is prepared by keeping the hot water in contact with the coffee beans or grinds for a lengthy period, it tends to have a higher caffeine content, and in some cases, an over-extracted taste.
This type of coffee is prepared by forcing a small amount of hot water through finely ground coffee beans. The resulting product has much more caffeine per volume compared to brewed coffee.
However, espresso servings are typically very small, with a regular cup or shot being about 1 – 1.75 oz (30 – 50 ml), which contains 53 mg of caffeine. If you take a double shot, the caffeine content is about 125 mg.
3. Espresso-based drinks
Considering how small espresso shots are, consumers usually either take a double shot or an espresso blend. There are many popular coffee drinks made from mixing espresso shots with different types and amounts of milk, including Americanos, lattes, macchiatos, and cappuccinos.
Since the espresso added is the only source of caffeine, their caffeine content depends on the number of espresso shots added. A small serving may contain about 63 mg of caffeine, while a large or double may contain 125 mg of caffeine.
4. Instant coffee
This type of coffee is made from regular coffee that has been spray-dried or freeze-dried. It typically comprises large, dry pieces that dissolve in water.
Instant coffee is made by adding one or two teaspoons of dried coffee to hot water. You don’t have to brew it. The resulting beverage has lower caffeine content compared to brewed coffee, with one cup containing between 30 and 90 mg.
5. Decaf coffee
The term decaf can be somewhat misleading to some, especially if it causes you to believe that the coffee is 100 percent caffeine free, which is hardly the case.
Decaf coffee contains about 0 to 7 mg of caffeine per cup, with an average of 3 mg. That said, the caffeine content may vary depending on the size of serving and method of decaffeination used.
Commercial brands have higher caffeine content
From the list above, you can make a safe assumption that an 8-oz cup of brewed coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine; one shot of espresso or an espresso-based drink contains about 63 mg; and that the caffeine content in decaf coffee is about 3 mg.
However, the caffeine content in commercial coffee brands is usually higher than that of a standard, home-brewed drink. Additionally, many coffee shops make their coffee servings in rather large cup sizes that range up to 24 oz (700 ml). The amount of coffee in these servings is about 3-5 times the amount in a regular-sized cup of coffee.
Here’s a look at a few examples:
This is arguably the best-known coffee shop in the globe. Its servings are also known to contain some of the highest caffeine content as follows:
Considering that the caffeine content for one shot of espresso at Starbucks is 75 mg, all their espresso-based drinks also contain at least 75 mg of caffeine, depending on the size of serving. This includes cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos, etc.
Decaf coffee from Starbucks also contains a considerable amount of caffeine, usually between 15 and 30 mg depending on the size of the cup.
McDonald’s sell their coffee around the world under their McCade brand. It is one of the largest fast food chains that sells coffee. However, they don’t calculate or standardize the caffeine content in their servings.
In this regard, here is a rough estimate of the caffeine content in their brewed coffee:
At shot of espresso at McDonald’s has a caffeine content of about 71 mg, while their decaf contains 8 – 14 mg depending on the size of serving.
3. Dunkin Donuts
This is another popular coffee and donut chain shop with outlets across the globe. The amount of caffeine in their coffee is as follows:
One shot of espresso at Dunkin Donuts has a caffeine content of 75 mg, which is the same amount you’d expect in their range of espresso-based drinks.
Their decaf coffee has a rather high caffeine content. One source claimed that a small cup of 10 oz has about 53 mg of caffeine, while the large cup of 24 oz has 128 mg. This is nearly as high as regular, home-made coffee brew.
.How much coffee is safe?
Coffee is rich in antioxidants, and as discussed above, many studies show quite a few health benefits of consuming a moderate amount of coffee.
Most people don’t experience any problems if they consume 400 – 600 mg of caffeine per day. Beyond this limit, however, adverse effects like sleep disruptions, anxiety, restlessness, and heart palpitations become common.
That said, people react to caffeine or coffee in different ways; some are very sensitive while others are unaffected by huge amounts.
.Caffeine and pregnancy
Studies have not conclusively shown that the consumption of caffeine during pregnancy causes harm to the fetus.
Still, it is recommended that expecting mothers consume a maximum of 200 mg of caffeine; while women who have challenges getting pregnant or have had at least one miscarriage should stay away from caffeine completely.
The recommended 200 mg of caffeine is equivalent to four cups of coffee.
This recommendation was issued by the Food Standards Agency in 2008, as it warned women of the increased risk of miscarriage or lower birth weight from consuming too much caffeine.
The UK, FSA also argues that excess caffeine consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of a number of health conditions in later life.
Previously, the FSA has recommended a maximum daily intake of 300 mg of caffeine. This was until a study published in the British Medical Journal argues that a lower daily limit would help to further reduce the risks.
According to the study, caffeine is not only absorbed into the body of pregnant women at a faster rate, but also crosses the placenta freely to circulate in the fetus. Excess caffeine consumption affected blood flow in the placenta, which in turn interfered with fetal growth.
To ensure the safety of your baby, expectant mothers should try drinking different liquids during the period of pregnancy, including decaf coffee and tea, fruit juice, and water. They should, however, avoid energy drinks that tend to be high in caffeine.
.Coffee Addiction – Truth or Misconception?
According to the criteria of the World Health Organization, coffee does not create an addiction. However, it triggers a psychological effect: coffee stimulates pleasant sensations that cause it to become a source of comfort on a regular basis.
There are some environmental factors (like stress) that may cause increased coffee consumption, which does not necessarily mean you’re addicted.
So, it is best if you drink coffee in moderation while monitoring the effect on your body. You should know your own limit or tolerance and adjust accordingly. For instance, if you enjoy a latte in the evening, but then you start getting palpitations, become nervous easily, and perhaps suffer insomnia, then the best thing to do is to cut back your caffeine intake.
Generally, for healthy adults, you can consume 4-5 cups of coffee a day, which translate to about 400 mg of caffeine.
This is the recommended, safe limit, so you can probably consume more caffeine per day, though there is no point in putting your health at risk.