They’re dark, strong, and intense. A concentrated shot of coffee, espressos are created by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee in a short period of time, usually less than 30 seconds.
With those strong flavors and a touch of bitterness, you might ask yourself if the caffeine content in a shot of espresso is higher than regular coffee.
In this post I’ll examine how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso and how it compares to other drinks.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee that affects your central nervous system. The most prized aspect of caffeine is that it makes you feel awake and gives you energy. Caffeine occurs naturally in dozens of plants, but there’s also synthetic caffeine.
On the downside, caffeine also releases acid in your stomach, acts as a diuretic, and increases blood pressure. It also has a bitter taste.
When you consume a drink or food item with caffeine, it takes about an hour to affect you. Some common drink and food items that have caffeine are:
Since there are positive and negative effects of caffeine, we also need to discuss limits. Overdosing on caffeine can have serious consequences.
But it takes about 10 grams of caffeine to overdose or cause serious problems in people, and it’s nearly impossible to consume that amount in natural drinks or foods.
What’s a healthy limit? The FDA recommends about 400 mg or less of caffeine a day.
If we translate that into espressos, that’s around 7 shots of espresso! So we can see that it’s easy to keep within the healthy limits of caffeine.
And overdosing on caffeine by drinking coffee would be very hard to do. That’s certainly good news for espresso lovers.
How Do You Extract Caffeine from Espresso?
When you brew coffee, you extract caffeine from the coffee grinds. That happens when you wet the coffee grounds with hot water and let them steep.
The caffeine gets extracted out into the water. The more time the coffee grounds are steeped in water, the more caffeine they extract.
When brewing espresso, this extraction process happens fast. An espresso is extracted in less than 30 seconds, which doesn’t give the caffeine a lot of time to extract.
How Much Caffeine in an Espresso Shot?
How much caffeine is in an espresso shot depends on the type of espresso you’re drinking. Some espresso shots have a shorter extraction time, and others have a much longer extraction time.
I’ll quickly tell you how much caffeine is in each kind of shot, and then I’ll break it down into the how and why.
- One shot of espresso has about 30-75 mg of caffeine
- One shot of ristretto has about 33 mg of caffeine
- One shot of lungo has about 75-90 mg of caffeine
How much caffeine is in 1 shot of espresso?
One shot of espresso, which is one ounce of coffee, has about 30-75 mg. That’s actually a lot less caffeine than a cup of regular drip coffee.
Why does espresso have so much less caffeine? One of the reasons is that a barista uses about 8 grams of ground coffee per shot of espresso. That’s less coffee than is used to brew a pour over, a French Press, or drip coffee.
Another factor is that a shot of espresso is very small. It’s just one ounce. When you drink regular drip coffee, you normally drink at least 8 times that amount of coffee.
Also, the extraction time is much shorter than for regular drip coffee, which often takes several minutes to brew. I’ll talk about that in more depth later on in this post.
How much caffeine is in 2 shots of espresso?
Two shots of espresso are made with exactly double the amount of coffee grounds as one shot. The brew time is the same, under thirty seconds.
So if you consume two shots of espresso, or a doppio espresso, you can expect to get exactly double the amount of caffeine. That’s between 60-150 mg of caffeine in two shots of espresso.
How much caffeine in ristretto shot?
Ristretto is a short shot of espresso. It has less volume in a more concentrated shot.
In spite of the strong and slightly bitter taste, which might make you think it has more caffeine, it has a bit less caffeine than a regular shot of espresso.
That’s because it has a shorter extraction time. And as I already mentioned, the extraction time is key to figuring out the caffeine content.
Caffeine In Espresso VS Other Drinks
When you compare the caffeine content in espresso with other drinks, you may be surprised. As I mentioned, a shot of espresso has about 50-75 mg.
That will vary depending on how much coffee grounds were used and how long the extraction time lasted.
A regular 12-ounce serving of drip coffee has about 100 mg. That’s a whole lot more than in an espresso! Why is there so much more caffeine in drip coffee?
One of the reasons is the volume. With a shot of espresso, you’re drinking just one ounce. But drip coffee is usually consumed in 8 to 12 ounce serving sizes.
Another factor with drip coffee is that the brewing process is much slower.
Drip coffee can take around four minutes to brew, and that extended time when the water is in touch with the coffee grounds extracts a lot more caffeine.
As I mentioned, espresso gets brewed in under 30 seconds, so less caffeine makes it into the drink.
Similar to drip coffee, most pour overs have an extraction time of 3 minutes or more. That extracts more caffeine than an espresso.
Also, a serving of pour over coffee, similar to drip coffee, tends to be at least 150 ml per serving. That’s a lot more than the 28 ml in a shot of espresso.
That volume contributes to you consuming more caffeine. So the caffeine content in a pour over is about 80-185 mg of caffeine for an 8 ounce serving.
Ounce per ounce, espresso has a lot more caffeine. That one ounce shot of espresso has an average of 60 mg of caffeine, while most pour overs have anywhere from 10-23 mg of caffeine per ounce.
But you never drink 8 ounces of espresso all at once, whereas drinking an 8 ounce cup of drip or pour over coffee is the norm.
A 12-ounce serving of regular coke has about 35-45 mg of caffeine.
An 8-ounce cup of black tea has around 14-60 mg of caffeine.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Decaffeinated coffee does have caffeine in it. Of course, it has a lot less caffeine, since most of it has been washed away in the decaffeination process.
What’s left will still give you a bit of a boost, though. A cup of decaf coffee may still have 2-4 mg of caffeine. So if you need to avoid caffeine at all costs, you might want to choose an alternative to decaf coffee.
How big is an espresso shot?
An espresso shot is quite small, just one ounce. When you compare that to a typical mug of coffee, which is about 8 ounces, an espresso shot can seem like just a sip of coffee.
Espressos are served in tiny demitasse cups, which can seem like they were meant to be in a dollhouse.
What coffee to use for espresso
When you’re brewing espresso, you want to choose your coffee carefully. No matter how you like your espressos, you need a very fine grind to ensure the coffee gets extracted in the short time frame you have to pull the shot.
As for roast, you can choose anything from a light to a dark roast.
Keep in mind that very dark roasts, like a French Roast, might clog some espresso machines because the oils extract out of the bean and cover the surface.
On the other end of the spectrum, light roasts are more difficult to use for espresso. In that short extraction time, you might under-extract the shot and it will taste too sharp or sour.
Most regular pre-ground supermarket coffee is ground for drip coffee makers rather than for espresso machines.
But for your espresso machine you need that fine grind I mentioned. What can you do? You have two options.
You can buy whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. Or you can buy coffees labeled as espresso coffee, which will always be ground fine.
Wrapping Up: Espresso Shot Caffeine Content
If you love espressos and want to keep the caffeine content in your life at lower levels, this post has been good news for you. A shot of espresso has significantly less caffeine than a mug of drip coffee.
If you actually want to consume more caffeine, you can do that with espro shots. You can consume many shots throughout the day, or consume doppio espressos, which is two shots in one cup.