Have you ever gone to a coffee shop for that much needed boost of caffeine on a day when you were really dragging and thus decided to order a double espresso (or drink with double espresso in it)? If so, you’re not alone.

For me not too long ago, I remember going to a coffee shop with a friend who doesn’t drink coffee. The time was around 4 or 5pm. He ordered himself an Americano, aka a double shot of espresso mixed with hot water. I kind of jumped back and warned him that espresso is loaded with caffeine and that he might want to order something else, but was I wrong?

The question is: does espresso actually have more caffeine that brewed coffee?


First let’s define what espresso is. Espresso is in fact made from coffee. Perhaps you were once as ignorant as I was and thought it came from a different bean. That is not true. Basically, espresso is brewed by forcing hot water through a finely ground, packed coffee bed. It is the high pressure that yields a short brew time and also highly concentrated coffee.

But what about the caffeine?

Fact: espresso contains a high concentration of caffeine.

But if you examine the mass of caffeine per shot, you will find it to be about 30-50 mg per shot of espresso (1 shot is ~30 ml or 1 oz). That means a double espresso drink has about a maximum of 100mg of caffeine.


Of course the label coffee is super general and the caffeine content will vary depending on the exact method, but here we are just talking about a normal cup of coffee. So first let’s ask, what constitutes a cup of coffee? Generally speaking, in the coffee world a cup of coffee is 6 oz (~180 ml). Realistically, most mugs hold ~10 oz (~300 ml) and to-go cups and mugs are even bigger. I will use 10 oz to constitute one cup of coffee here.

What I have found is that coffee has anywhere from 10-20 mg of caffeine per fluid oz depending on the coffee and the brew method. That means that in a 10 oz cup of coffee, you will drink anywhere from 100-200 mg of caffeine. That’s a lot of caffeine!


A standard cup of coffee can have up to double the caffeine of a standard espresso drink.

While espresso definitely has more caffeine per drop, you usually won’t find more than two shots in a drink, so the next time you’re feeling sleepy, maybe you should stick with the old tried and true cup of jo.

Or if you’re super sleepy, try a “red eye”, “black eye”, or “dead eye” — coffee with 1,2, or 3 shots of espresso mixed in respectively.