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Coffee and its "average" caffeine content

For many of us, caffeine forms a vital part of our daily routine, whether it is that first cup of coffee that gets us going in the morning or the regular fix every 2-3 hours. But the most important thing when it comes to caffeine is the dose which it is ingested to provide the benefits to concentration and focus.

A nice study was recently published by Crozier et al ( entitled “Espresso coffees, caffeine and chloroegnic acid intake: potential health implications”. In simple terms, a group of scientists tested a number of different coffee shops in the UK (well Scotland to be precise) to look at the variation in caffeine in each cup of coffee. A total of 20 coffee shops were tested, including some that are well known to many of us.

The average caffeine dose per espresso serving was 140 mg, with a range of 51 mg all the way up to a staggering 322 mg. In total, four outlets provided coffee that contained caffeine in excess of 200 mg, which exceeds the 200 mg/day upper limit recommended during pregnancy by the UK Foods Standards Agency. To further put this into perspective, most articles that discuss the caffeine content of coffee will suggest that the average cup of coffee provides between 50-100 mg of caffeine per cup.

Clearly we should probably not be so flippant with our estimation of the “average” caffeine content of coffee in the future, and perhaps seek greater means of knowledge into the processes of coffee preparation in the places in which we purchase and/or socialise. Certainly those who display caffeine sensitivity should be aware that coffee is not all made equal.

For those regular coffee drinkers out there, the results might not be so shocking – more directional regarding their preferred choice of coffee in the morning. When comparing the two high street favourites Costa has more caffeine per espresso than Starbucks. Costa had a total of 157 mg of caffeine per espresso, whereas Starbucks only had 51 mg.

Clearly the choice is yours!