Does Espresso Have More Caffeine The Surprising Truth!

Does Espresso Have More Caffeine? The Surprising Truth!

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 18:57

A question fired at us by Albert, an avid coffee lover and a regular reader and commenter on our social media, was “Does espresso have more caffeine?

It may sound like a simple yes/no answer, but when it comes to a cup of coffee, nothing is simple. I could answer yes, a shot of espresso has more caffeine and the answer would be both correct and incorrect at the same time – literally beating Plato’s Principle.

Are you perplexed and looking for an exact answer – then keep reading as we dig down and detail the answer to this complex but simple question!

What Is An Espresso?

An espresso is a shot of coffee that is brewed by forcing hot water of a temperature of 195F to 205F (92C To 96C) and at a pressure of 9 bars (130 PSI) through a compact puck of finely ground fresh dark roasted coffee beans for 25 to 30 seconds.

A coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5 is commonly used. That is 1.5 grams of water for every gram of coffee grounds used. It is the freshly ground dark roasted coffee beans and the water pressure together that produce the thick crema on top.

To maintain the crema the distinctive demitasse cup must be used.

An Espresso
Two Well Made Espressos

Read: French press Vs Espresso

Does Espresso Have More Caffeine Than Regular Coffee?

The answer is both yes and no. Let’s unravel that paradoxical and perplexing answer.

Many coffee drinks as you can see in the table below have a greater total caffeine content than a shot of espresso or an espresso-based drink. Even a simple cup of drip coffee has more caffeine, as does a French press, cold brew and so on.

Coffee Drink Caffeine Content.
Single Shot Of Espresso. 63 mg
Double Shot Of Espresso. 126 mg
Starbucks Espresso Shot. 75 mg
Drip Coffee 12 Oz 120 mg
French Press Coffee 12 Oz. 200 mg
Cold Brew Coffee 12 Oz 200 mg
Latte 12 Oz 75 mg.
Pour Over Coffee 12 Oz 130 mg.
Siphon 12 Oz. 150 mg.
Cappuccino 12 Oz 154 mg
Percolator Coffee 12 Oz 150 mg.
Mocha 80 mg.

Note: 12 Oz = 360 ml.

As you can see, the amount of caffeine in an espresso is much less than other coffee drinks. However, it can be noted that a shot of espresso is significantly smaller in volume than other drinks on the list.

That is where the yes/no comes into the situation.

A shot of espresso is significantly stronger on a per-volume basis.12 ounces of espresso is 756 mg from a regular coffee shop and 900 milligrams when making the calculation for 12 ounces of Starbucks espresso.

So it has more caffeine on a per-ounce basis but not in total.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Double Espresso?

A double espresso for a regular coffee shop will have on average 126 milligrams of caffeine. An espresso double shot from Starbucks, which is slightly stronger, will have 150 mg of caffeine.

How Much Caffeine Is In A Starbucks Espresso Shot?

According to the coffee conglomerate’s website their espresso shot has 75 mg of caffeine.

Why Does Espresso Have More Caffeine On a Per Ounce Basis?

The reason for the high caffeine content on a per-ounce basis is the very fine grind powder like grind size of 200 microns being compact and a high coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5.

The high coffee to water ratio is also the reason behind you having a more concentrated and thicker, more dense coffee.

Starbucks Espresso
Starbucks Espresso has 75 mg per shot

Read: Cappuccino Vs Espresso

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

I checked a number of government health pages for different nations, including:

  • Australia.
  • America.
  • Canada.
  • United Kingdom.
  • New Zealand.

Their advice is not to exceed the daily limit of 400 milligrams per day of caffeine. It is suggested that in excess of 1,000 mg will produce toxic effects.

Frequently Asked Questions About Does Espresso Have More Caffeine

Is There More Caffeine In Espresso Or Coffee?

A very common misconception in the coffee world is that the coffee beverage with the most caffeine is a shot of espresso. This is not true. There are many coffee drinks that have more total caffeine than an espresso.

The volume of a coffee drink plays a largely influential role in what the total caffeine content is and thus many drinks that are an 8 Oz (240 ml) and more caffeine than a 1 Oz (30 ml) shot of espresso.

An espresso is not the drink with the highest concentration of caffeine either as a ristretto has a more focused concentration of caffeine due to the more focused 1:1 coffee to water ratio.

Why Does Espresso Have More Caffeine?

An espresso has a high concentration of caffeine due to the very focused coffee to water ratio of 1:1.5 (Italian espresso) or 1:2 (American espresso) and the fact that hot water is used to extract the flavor compounds. Hot water extracts caffeine at a higher rate and greater ease than cold water extraction. 

Which Coffee Has The Most Caffeine?

The type of coffee that has the most caffeine is Robusta coffee beans which, on average, contain 2.2x to 2.7x more caffeine content than their Arabica counterparts.

In terms of coffee drinks, the greatest concentration of caffeine is in a ristretto which has more caffeine per ounce (or per 100 ml) than any other coffee drink and thus a Ristretto brewed with robusta bean will be exceptionally strong.

Is 4 Shots Of Espresso A Lot?


4 shots of espresso will have 300 milligrams of caffeine (if from Starbucks) and 252 mg of caffeine if from a regular coffee shop. This amount of caffeine over a short period of time will give a serious caffeine kick.

Even though it is below the suggested maximum daily limit as set by the Food And Drug Administration so much caffeine in a short time frame (like as one drink, within an hour or two) may cause some temporary concern like the shakes, anxiety, panic attacks.

Why Espresso Is Healthier Than Coffee?

Espresso is healthier than other coffee drinks as it is a concentrated shot of vitamins, minerals, phenolic compounds and powerful antioxidants.

Why Do People Prefer Espresso Over Coffee?

Espresso is a very aromatic and strong, intense coffee. Although it is an acquired taste to drink straight it is tasty when you get used to it with the rich, intense taste and lingering aroma.

Is Americano Stronger Than Espresso?

No, an Americano is a drink that is made with a shot or two of espresso which is then watered down with hot water using a ratio of espresso to water ratio of 1:5 to 1:7 depending on the drink size and establishment selling it.

With this in mind, it is easy to see that the flavor is weaker while the drink has the same amount of caffeine as an espresso (assuming made with one shot of espresso).

How Long Does It Take For Espresso To Kick In?

An espresso, like all coffee drinks, will take from 10 to 15 minutes for the caffeine to kick in. The peak caffeine level will appear after around 45 minutes.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Does Espresso Have More Caffeine?

Yes, espresso does have more caffeine than a regular coffee when you measure on a per-ounce basis, but it does have total caffeine content that is less than a regular cup of coffee. Please see the table above for reference.

If any of your friends ask you does espresso have more caffeine you can tell them that is most certainly does on a per ounce basis but no always has more in total caffeine content.

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Derek Marshall is a coffee expert and a Specialty Coffee Association Certified barista holding the professional certification for coffee brewing and barista skills. He has 20+ years experience of working in specialty coffee shops. He has several authoritative books published about coffee covering topics of specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. His experience as a barista covers 2 decades and counting of working in specialty coffee shops in the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia. Indonesia and Vietnam. He has deep knowledge of the unique coffee culture in each of these nations and specialty beverages requested and brewing techniques and equipment. As a coffee consultant he commands US$50 per hour. Learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew by checking his About Me Page. If you have any questions about coffee, give him a call on +34-639-410-375 or drop him an email Please state your name and where you are from.

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