Use this detailed guide to find out the biggest mysteries around the worlds most used substance, caffeine.
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to caffeine, so we’ve broken it down into 5 main sections:
We have de-bunked the myths, such as tea vs coffee content and why decaf still contains caffeine. But first, here’s the definition:
Keep reading to find out some surprising truths about the worlds favourite psychoactive drug…
The best decaf and high caffeine beans
The best high caffeine coffee beans…
The two main types of coffee are Robusta and Arabica. Whilst Arabica is favoured for its high quality and flavour, some prefer Robusta for its high caffeine content.
Robusta on average contains 83% more caffeine than Arabica. Most Roasters and coffee shops sell Arabica as the flavours are much more pleasant and refined.
That is why we have created an 80/20 blend for our Milano beans to retain the delicious flavours of Arabica but the extra kick from Robusta.
The best caffeine free coffee beans…
This is the perfect option for those who want to enjoy the full flavour of coffee, just without the buzz. The decaffeinated water process beans are a favourite for many of our customers due to the consistent high quality.
Here is what our customers though of these decaf beans:
“I love coffee and enjoy trying different origins and roasts but for an excellent great daily drinking coffee with great body and taste this is my daily go to, drink it black (never pollute coffee with milk or sugar). Proves if you start with a great coffee bean, organic is a bonus, roast it really well, prepare it well (Aeropress) you get a great coffee.”
“Excellent decaf – and amazed by the service, ordered at 16.30, delivered next morning !”
The caffeine content in your favourite beverages
How much is in a cup of coffee?
On average, there is around 95mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee.
However, is it difficult to give a straight answer as the content varies so much from cup to cup. With some ranging from almost 0 to over 702mg per cup, this average is just a guide.
The main factors that will affect the content is:
- Type of beans
- Volume of coffee
- Method of brewing
- Roast level
How much is in black coffee?
Black coffee may taste stronger because it isn’t diluted by milk, which may give some the idea that it actually is stronger and has a higher caffeine content.
However, whether you have milk or not, the content is the same and isn’t affected by what you add to your coffee.
But, does milk slow down your caffeine absorption?
There have been studies in recent years to investigate this and see if black coffee drinkers feel the effects of caffeine faster.
The science behind this claim is that caffeine is fat soluble, which means it easily absorbs into fats. As milk can contain 3-4% fat, the idea is that the caffeine absorbs into these fats which slows down your bodies absorption of the drug. This is because fats take longer to be digested, so the effects should be less severe.
There isn’t enough scientific research to back this up and the fat content is so little in coffee that it will have minimal impact on your bodies absorption.
The content in iced coffee – why there may be less…
Although the difference is small, yes, cold brew coffee usually contains less caffeine.
The reason for this is because caffeine is water soluble. So, the hotter the water, the more of the substance is extracted.
As cold brew is always made with cold water, it will more than likely always have a lower content than hot coffee.
However, this isn’t always the case for iced coffee. As iced coffee is usually made with a shot of espresso (brewed with hot water), this won’t affect the caffeine content.
Or, if you brew with hot water and then allow the drink to cool overnight for iced coffee the next day, this also will leave the concentration unaffected.
But, if you are looking for a cold coffee drink that is low on caffeine, opt for cold brew.
Bulletproof coffee caffeine content – does it contain more?
Bulletproof coffee is simply a blend of fresh coffee, grass fed butter and MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) or coconut oil.
Its creators claim it contributes to weight loss, more energy and improving your mental focus. It has become somewhat of a trend in recent years. But, it has been met with plenty of controversy as many medical specialists claim the high fat content is bad for health.
But, how does it give you this new-found energy? Does it have a higher caffeine content?
Bulletproof coffee doesn’t have a higher content. The claims of all day energy come from the combination of fats and caffeine. The fats from the butter slightly slow down your body’s absorption, preventing a spike in energy and making it last longer.
Comparisons in caffeine content between the most popular drinks
Which has a higher content – coffee or tea?
The age-old debate turns its attention to caffeine… which has the highest content?
There’s two different answers for this depending on which stage of the process you are referring to.
Pre-brew, tea leaves contain more caffeine than coffee beans.
The leaves of the camellia sinensis plant (the one and only tea plant) contain more caffeine than any species of the coffea plant.
However, post-brew, coffee comes out on top. Coffee is a stronger beverage than tea which is evident by just looking at them, as tea has a weaker colour. More caffeine is extracted from coffee during brewing, which gives it a higher content.
This is mainly down to the fact that coffee is brewed for longer and beans are much fresher than tea leaves.
Which has a higher content – coffee or espresso?
An espresso has a higher concentration, but a cup of coffee has more caffeine due to the higher volume.
An espresso is a thick, concentrated shot of coffee. It is quickly brewed (around 30 seconds) using high pressure, near boiling water and tightly packed grounds.
Although many use espresso as a synonym for coffee, not all coffees can be referred to as an espresso. Espressos can be consumed on their own or as the base of other drinks such as cappuccinos or lattes.
The coffee roast that has the most caffeine – light vs dark…
Similar to black coffee, some think that dark roast is stronger just because it tastes stronger, but is this the case?
It is a common myth that beans lose their caffeine during the roasting process, so dark roast has a lower concentration. However, this isn’t true.
In fact, there is little difference between the two.
During the roasting process, beans lose some of their mass. This means that when weighing out 100g of light roast and 100g of dark roast, there will be more beans in the dark roast pile.
This means that when compared in weight, dark roast has the slightly higher content as there are more beans.
When compared in volume, for example a scoop of each, light roast will have the higher content. This is because they have slightly more mass.
The difference is still minimal, so we wouldn’t recommend opting for a particular roast just for the caffeine content.
Everything you need to know about going caffeine free
How much caffeine is in decaf coffee?
At least 97% of the caffeine content needs to be removed to label a product as decaffeinated. You may be surprised that decaf contains any at all, as many think decaf products are 100% free of it.
Most decaf contains 0.1 – 0.3% of the substance, but don’t worry, this won’t have an effect on your body for those worried about experiencing the side effects.
Why caffeine free coffee isn’t the same as decaf…
The term ‘caffeine free’ usually refers to products that are naturally free of the substance.
When we refer to ‘decaf’ products, these are typically drinks that have undergone some sort of processing to remove the caffeine content. There are many different removal methods, some involving chemicals and some organic methods.
How is caffeine removed from coffee?
There are typically four main methods of decaffeination:
- In-direct solvent process
- Direct solvent process
- Swiss or Mountain water process
- Carbon Dioxide process.
The indirect and direct solvent processes are popular as they are quicker and simpler, however many choose not to buy beans that have gone through this process because of the use of chemicals.
The water or carbon dioxide processes are favoured for being organic and free of artificial chemicals. To read more about these processes and tips for getting the best tasting decaf brew, take a look at our guide to decaf post.
The effect caffeine has on health
The 6 health benefits of caffeine in coffee
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, with over 90% of Americans consuming it every single day. Although this isn’t just through coffee, the most common food and drink that contains this substance can include chocolate, fizzy drinks, headache tablets, protein bars and tea.
Here are 6 surprising health benefits:
- It has been proven to encourage hair growth for balding men and women.
- It can reduce muscle pain by 48% after an intense workout.
- It has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in some people.
- Can improve focus, reaction time and logical reasoning.
- Can aid with prevention of weight gain.
- A few studies have shown a link to improvement of memory.
How long it lasts in your body and how it affects you
99% of caffeine is absorbed in the first 45 minutes after consuming the beverage.
The half-life of this substance (the time taken for your body to eliminate half of the amount consumed) is on average 4 – 6 hours.
There is no set limit for how long it will have an effect on the body as it depends on the individual’s genetics, dosage, age, body weight, health and sensitivity to caffeine.
Some may stop feeling the effects of it an hour after consumption, whereas those who are particularly sensitive may still have symptoms up to 24 hours after initial consumption.
Caffeine free coffee during pregnancy – what are the best options?
The recommend limit of caffeine during pregnancy is 200mg per day, which is around 1 cup. If you are used to having more than this, or just want to cut it out completely, decaf is a great option.
Many opt for water process decaf as no chemicals are directly or indirectly involved. This is an organic method which is an ideal option during pregnancy (although this does not automatically mean the beans are organic).
It is recommended to limit your intake during pregnancy as when you consume caffeine, it is passed on to the baby through the placenta.
As their body is still developing, they will struggle to process this substance and the effects on them will last much longer.