Last Updated: 6th July 2021
Realistically, there is one main reason why we drink coffee: for the caffeine.
There’s nothing like the enticing smell of fresh coffee in the morning, and we coffee enthusiasts can’t get enough of the bold, rich taste.
However, caffeine is what helps us wake up. For this reason, you can overserve coffee. This is why it’s crucial to understand how much caffeine we’re consuming when we drink coffee.
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee?” We’ll also go over the science behind caffeine, including its benefits and side effects.
Caffeine is a drug naturally found in coffee, as well as tea, coffee, and other items such as chocolate. It acts as a stimulant, giving a boost to the central nervous system and increasing alertness.
This is why caffeine is commonly used to stay awake and energetic. It is also used as a key ingredient in medications which treat migraines and drowsiness.
Unlike other drugs, caffeine is legal and widely accepted in society. Some may even overlook its status as a drug because of its prevalence in society.
More than 50% of Americans 18 or older drink coffee daily. To put things in a better perspective, about 90% of Americans regularly consume caffeine in some form.
The average amount of caffeine in a 240 ml serving of coffee is 96 mg. With 400 mg of caffeine being the average daily limit for consumption, that means you could drink approximately 4 cups of coffee a day.
In contrast, decaf coffee averages at 2 mg of caffeine per 240 ml serving. This shows that although decaf isn’t completely free of caffeine, the amount of caffeine is insignificant.
But be careful, as there can be a huge difference in the amount of caffeine between coffee types and brewing methods.
We have a page that goes into more detail about the amount of caffeine in different coffee drinks. For now, let’s go over the most common variants of coffee.
These are the most popular types of coffee preparation with their averaged caffeine content.
Brewed coffee, decaf
As you’ll notice, all but one of the non-coffee beverages below averages at less caffeine per serving than coffee.
Several factors affect the amount of caffeine in your coffee.
Coffee to water ratio
Of course, you can have too much of a good thing, and this principle applies to caffeine. Remember, it’s a drug! Here are some things to keep in mind.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, adults should limit themselves to 400 mg of caffeine each day. This amount can vary depending on sensitivity to caffeine, and the ability for the body to metabolise it.
The FDA discourages children and adolescents from caffeine consumption. With less body weight in young children and teens, there is less room for caffeine tolerance.
More importantly, caffeine primarily affects the central nervous system. With children’s brains still in development, caffeine can potentially alter this development. Whether or not kids can have coffee is a topic for a whole other article, and luckily, we have one!
The most common side effects of ingesting too much caffeine are:
While you should be cautious about the amount of caffeine you consume, it’s important to remember that caffeine can also be good for you.
When used in moderation, caffeine can provide the following health benefits:
Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University in Corvalis suggest that caffeine can help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease. It also doesn’t appear to significantly increase the risk of heart disease or cancer.
Be mindful of your caffeine intake and limit yourself to about 4 cups of coffee per day. That way, you can enjoy these benefits while lessening (if not eliminating) the negative side effects.