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Factors Influencing Caffeine Levels in Coffee

How Much Caffeine is in my Dark Roast Arabica Espresso?

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An image of espresso beans being ground in a coffee grinder.

The finer a coffee is ground, the more caffeine it will release as it is brewed.

Lindsey Goodwin

Determining the caffeine levels of coffee and espresso drinks can be tricky. There are many factors that influence the caffeine levels in different coffee drinks, such as espresso, French press coffee and drip brewed coffee.

This guide to factors influencing caffeine levels in coffee won’t give you an exact level of caffeine for each coffee drink, but it will help you make informed decisions about the caffeine levels you consume in coffee.

Caffeine Levels of Coffee Bean Types

Like different tea varietals, different coffee varieties and cultivars have naturally varying levels of caffeine.

Robusta coffee beans (the type used in many low-grade coffees and instant coffees) have about twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffee beans (the most common type of coffee bean on the market).

A naturally low-caffeine coffee bean (not decaf coffees) called Excelsa is sometimes blended with Arabica to create a lower caffeine coffee.

Caffeine Levels of Coffee Roasts

Many people feel that darker coffee roasts have more caffeine because they have a stronger flavor. However, generally speaking, darker roasts have lower caffeine levels than lighter roasts. This is because the prolonged heat of heavier roasting breaks down the caffeine molecule.

Caffeine Levels of Coffee Grinds

Different levels of coffee grinding are used for different brewing methods. For example, espresso and Turkish coffee require much finer coffee grind levels than drip brewed coffee.

Assuming that the brewing method is the same, the finer the coffee grind, the higher the coffee’s caffeine level.

Caffeine Levels of Coffee Brewing Methods

Different coffee brewing methods require different brewing times. The longer you brew the coffee, the higher the level of caffeine it will have. For example, French press coffee that is left sitting for a longer amount of time before the plunger is depressed will have a higher caffeine level, and lungos (larger, slower extractions of espresso) will have a higher caffeine level than ristrettos (smaller, faster extractions of espresso).

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