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That first shot of espresso always has a profound effect. It really scratches that caffeine itch. That makes many people believe that a shot of espresso is much higher in caffeine content than a cup of drip coffee. This is not exactly true. Here’s what you want to know.
Per standard serving, drip coffee (8oz./90-110mg) has more caffeine than a single shot of espresso (1 oz./60-80 mg). A double espresso has roughly a third more caffeine than a normal serving of drip coffee. Espresso is drunk much faster which means the effects of the caffeine are felt faster.
How does this work and which type of coffee is the best to get your caffeine fix? Find out below.
Does A Cup Of Espresso Have More Caffeine Than A Cup Of Drip Coffee?
Let’s get the most important thing out of the way; A single shot of espresso does not have have more caffeine than a standard serving of drip coffee. So drinking a shot of espresso will not give you more caffeine than drinking a medium sized mug of drip coffee.
Here’s how much caffeine is in a single serving of different types of coffees;
- Single shot of espresso: 60-90 mg
- Double shot of espresso: 120-180 mg
- 8oz. Drip coffee: 90-110 mg
- 12oz. Drip coffee: 135 -165 mg
- 8oz. Cold brew: 100-200 mg (There is a very wide range in cold brews)
However, obviously there is a big difference in the serving size of these drinks. A single shot of espresso is just about 30 ml while 8oz. Is +-236ml. That’s a big difference. That means per milliliter espresso does definitely have a much higher caffeine content.
Caffeine content of different coffee drinks per oz.
- 1 oz. Espresso: 60-90 mg
- 1 oz. Drip coffee: 11.25-12.5 mg
- 1 oz. Cold brew: 12.5+ mg
These are averages. There can be differences in the used beans and the brew technique which result in different caffeine content.
As you can see, espresso is very strong per oz. Of liquid. You also drink espresso much faster than a mug of drip coffee. A shot of espresso is downed in one or two sips so all that caffeine hits your system much faster so the effect seems more profound.
However, people tend to drink much more drip coffee than shots of espresso over the course of a day. So while drinking drip coffee, you’ll probably get more caffeine at the end of the day. Not many people drink more than 2-3 espressos a day but plenty of people drink 2-3 8 or 12 oz. Servings of drip coffee.
Espresso Beans vs. Coffee Beans
Isn’t espresso made with a different kind of beans that makes it much stronger? No, that’s a myth or at least a misunderstanding.
All coffee beans come from similar trees. There are different types of coffee plants and of course they are grown in different places which results in different tasting coffees, but this has nothing to do with if they are espresso beans or not. All those beans are similar when they are picked from the tree and there isn’t anything that makes one bean more suitable for brewing espresso than another bean.
The difference is in the roasting process. Espresso beans tend to be roasted darker than for drip coffee. That’s to create the typical espresso taste. The roasting process doesn’t really influence the caffeine content in the beans though. The amount of caffeine doesn’t change by roasting. The amount of caffeine in the bean is decided by the type of plant and growing conditions.
There is the idea that light roasted beans have more caffeine but likely this is just because light roasted beans are more dense since they have puffed up less than dark roasted beans. So per bean there isn’t really a difference.
There is one caveat here; many traditional espresso coffees have a little bit of Robusta blended in. Robusta is a type of coffee tree that produces beans with about double the caffeine content. These beans usually don’t taste as good but create more crema in espresso (the foam on top). They also add the darker taste people like in espresso.
Usually there is 20% Robusta blended into the Arabica beans for espresso. This does raise the amount of caffeine in many espresso blends a little. However, that’s not enough to offset the larger volume of the average drip coffee serving.
Most Efficient Caffeine Delivery System
So while espresso doesn’t have the most caffeine per cup, it does rank pretty high, if not the highest on the list of coffee drinks with the highest amount of caffeine per milliliter. So in that regard, it’s one of the most efficient coffee delivery systems.
But if you just care about the amount of caffeine, there are better ways to get it. Caffeine pills are very cheap and even faster to take than a cup of caffeine. Just get a bottle on Amazon and put a few in your pocket for ‘emergencies’. Most caffeine pills have about 200mg of caffein so they are about 3 shots of espresso worth’s. Pro tip; get the caffeine pills that also have green tea (L-Theanine) those make you feel less jittery and have a longer lasting, smoother effect.
Other options are pre-workout powders (Amazon) and energy drinks. They are both commonly available and have about the same caffeine content as a caffeine pill.
I’m of course not advocating to completely stop drinking coffee. I’m just saying if all you care about is the caffeine, there are easier ways to get it. If you enjoy drinking coffee, just drink the type of coffee you like. Whether that’s espresso, drip coffee, cold brew, etc. Just drink what you like and drink the best you can afford!
Recommended Espresso Equipment
Besides an espresso machine, there are a few other tools that can make your espresso better. Here are my favorites:
- Espresso Machine: The Breville Barista Express (Amazon) is the sweet spot in price and quality for most casual home baristas. It comes with a built in grinder and most tools you need to brew espresso.
- Tamper: A nice tamper helps you tamp your grounds in the filter for the best result. Any correctly sized tamper can do the job but a nice heavy one just feels so much better in your hand than a plastic model. This Luxhaus one (Amazon) has a nice trick up it’s sleeve to make tamping very consistent.
- Beans: Good espresso starts with good beans. Using fresh beans is a big improvement over pre-ground coffee.
- Scales: Getting consistently good espresso means you have to know how much grounds is going into the machine and how much is coming out and how long this takes. A coffee scale is going to make your espresso much more consistent and also makes adjustments a lot easier. The Apexstone coffee scale (Amazon) is cheap and doesn’t look too sleek but is just as accurate as more expensive scales. The TimeMore scales (Amazon) look and feel a lot nicer but cost a bit more.
- Grinder: To make the best of your fresh beans, a good grinder is necessary. Espresso requires a good grinder to get the best results. The Baratza Sette 30 (Amazon) is a good espresso grinder that can also be used for other brewing methods and while not cheap, is good value for money. If you prefer hand grinders, the 1ZPresso JX-PRO is one of the best options (Amazon)
- Distribution tool: After grinding you can get some clumps in the coffee grounds. Those clumps should be broken up so the water can extract all the coffee grounds equally. Distribution tools are very simple things but this one (Amazon) is beautifully made and will look good in your kitchen.