How Much Caffeine Is in a Coffee Bean?

Even though we mainly talk about the delicate flavors coffee can offer here, it’s an undeniable fact that getting caffeinated is also a popular reason for drinking a cup of coffee. While caffeine is indeed helpful to get us going in the morning, it’s important to be careful with the amount of caffeine we are consuming.

As the daily limit of 400 mg of caffeine can be reached rather quickly with a few cups of coffee, it’s important to keep track of how much coffee you’re drinking to ensure that you don’t go over this limit. Since the caffeine intake depends on the strength of your coffee, we can’t exactly tell you how many cups it would take until this limit is reached.

For this reason, let’s start with the core element of the coffee-making process, a coffee bean. By learning how much caffeine is in a coffee bean, we will build the foundation for further calculations to understand how the caffeine content of a cup of coffee can fluctuate.

Considering that an average coffee bean weighs around 0.13 grams, an Arabica bean (1.2% – 1.5% caffeine) contains 1.55 to 1.95 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, a Robusta bean (2.2% – 2.7% caffeine) can contain 2.85 to 3.5 milligrams of caffeine.

Does Roast Level Affect the Caffeine Content of a Coffee Bean?

A common myth surrounding the caffeine content of a coffee bean is how the roast level changes it.

In reality, the melting point of caffeine (~455 degrees Fahrenheit) is way above the temperature a coffee bean ever reaching during the roasting process. Even in the case of the darkest roast levels, where the temperatures come close to the melting point of caffeine, there isn’t a considerable change in caffeine content.

That being said, roast level changes the weight and the volume of a coffee bean. Dark roast coffee beans weigh less and take up more volume compared to their light roast counterparts due to the chemical changes they undergo during the roasting process.

What this means is that even though the caffeine content of a singular coffee bean doesn’t change with roast level, it can show a difference by volume and weight.

To put it simply, 100 grams of dark roast coffee beans contain more coffee beans than 100 grams of light roast coffee beans, meaning that they also contain more caffeine due to the number of coffee beans being greater.

On the other hand, a spoonful of dark roast coffee beans would amount to a lesser amount of coffee beans than a spoonful of light roast coffee beans as a single dark roast coffee bean takes up more space, meaning that a spoonful of light roast coffee beans contains more caffeine.

While this may sound slightly confusing at first, it’s an important distinction to make.

Which Coffee Bean Has the Most Caffeine?

Now that we concluded that roast level doesn’t really impact the caffeine content of a coffee bean, it’s time to talk about the factors that do.

The first factor to consider when it comes to caffeine content is the type of coffee bean. While there are plenty of different coffee bean types, most of the coffee market is made up of Arabica and Robusta beans, which is why we will be comparing the two.

While an Arabica bean is roughly made up of 1.2 to 1.5 percent of caffeine, a Robusta bean contains almost double the amount of caffeine, with values that range between 2.2 and 2.7 percent. By using these figures, we can say that an average Arabica bean contains 1.55 mg to 1.95 mg of caffeine, and an average Robusta bean contains 2.85 mg to 3.5 mg of caffeine.

The difference in caffeine between the two is one of the reasons why Arabica coffee is harder to grow, which also makes it more expensive. The higher caffeine content of the Robusta coffee plant acts as a way to protect itself from pests and disease, making it an easier plant to grow.

Since Robusta plants can be grown in more places with relatively less care compared to Arabica plants, the supply for them is greater, making Robusta beans cheaper in return.

The next factor that changes the caffeine content of a coffee bean is its origin. Even though the difference in caffeine content between coffee beans of different origins isn’t as great as the difference caused by type, it’s still something to consider.

How Much Caffeine is Extracted from Coffee Beans?

While we have been talking about the caffeine content of coffee beans so far, it’s important to note that these amounts aren’t what goes into your cup of coffee. Even though the caffeine is all there, only a certain percentage of it is extracted during the brewing process.

As a rule of thumb, it’s considered that an optimally conducted brewing process, regardless of the brewing method used, roughly extracts 50 to 60 percent of the caffeine that is contained in the coffee grounds.

To put it into perspective, let’s assume that a 250 ml cup of coffee is brewed with a 1:17 coffee-to-water ratio, using Arabica beans that contain 1.2% caffeine by weight. By using the ratio, we will find out that roughly 15 grams of coffee are used, containing 180mg caffeine. Under the assumption that 50 to 60 percent of the caffeine is extracted, the amount of caffeine in the cup would be between 90 and 110 milligrams.

Since it’s not very possible to find out exactly how much caffeine is extracted without conducting scientific research, the best thing we can do is to follow ballpark figures that help us approximate the amount of caffeine in our cup.

For this reason, we recommend staying below the daily limit of caffeine intake with a margin that allows for inconsistencies in the calculation.

How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Coffee?

As the amount of caffeine that is contained in a cup of coffee can vary depending on factors such as the amount and type of coffee beans used, it’s impossible to come up with a magical number that covers every scenario.

For this reason, let’s go over some common coffee drinks and the amount of caffeine they contain.

Espresso

Let’s start with espresso, as espresso is often considered to have the largest caffeine content, which is another myth.

While it’s true that espresso contains the most amount of caffeine by volume at roughly 64 milligrams for a 30 ml shot, it’s rare for espresso to be consumed in larger volumes.

For this reason, regardless of the espresso drink, your cup will have 64 milligrams of caffeine as long as it contains a singular shot of espresso.

Filter Coffee

Next up is filter coffee. 

A 250 ml cup of filter coffee contains roughly 95 mg of caffeine on average, meaning that it actually contains more caffeine than a cup of any espresso drink. 

Even though filter coffee contains a lot less caffeine by volume when compared to espresso, in a real-life scenario, the caffeine amount of filter coffee comes out on top.

Instant Coffee

On average, a 250 ml cup of instant coffee is considered to contain around 64 milligrams of caffeine, similar to a shot of espresso.

That being said, since instant coffee is measured with tablespoons most of the time, inconsistencies can happen in caffeine content.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How much caffeine do you get from eating coffee beans?

While the amount of caffeine will largely depend on the coffee beans you are eating, if we assume that a single Arabica bean contains 1.55 to 1.95 milligrams of caffeine, it would take 200 to 250 beans to reach the daily maximum for caffeine intake.

That being said, we don’t recommend coming anywhere near this number to ensure that you don’t go over the limit by accident.

How much caffeine is in 10 grams of coffee beans?

Considering that we are talking about a 100% Arabica blend, we can approximate that 10 grams of coffee beans contain 120 to 150 mg of caffeine.

While 100% Robusta blends don’t exist, the amount of caffeine would be ranging between 220 to 270 mg in the case of Robusta.

How much caffeine is in a tablespoon of coffee beans?

Using the standard assumption of 1 tablespoon of coffee beans weighing 5 grams, we can approximate a tablespoon of coffee beans to contain 60 to 120 mg of caffeine under the assumption that Arabica beans are used.

Conclusion

Since there are a lot of factors to take into account when it comes to calculating things such as the caffeine content of a coffee bean, the caffeine content of coffee beans that are measured by weight or volume, and the caffeine content of a cup of coffee, it’s impossible to come up with an exact number.

That being said, we hope that we managed to describe everything related to the caffeine content of coffee clearly and understandably.

Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!