How Much Caffeine in a Shot of Espresso

Oct 17, 2022 • Amélie Bigras

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Caffeine is the most popular psychotropic drug and it has changed the course of human history. Michael Pollan's reporting shows how it's changed wars, politics, and economies. He asserts, with the support of voluminous research in his book "Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World"., that the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible without it. He tells the story of how much of an influence caffeine has on individuals and on our society. He also decided to experience the importance of caffeine in his life by going cold turkey and observing his own withdrawal which he qualified as being very difficult. Consuming caffeine is known for improving mental alertness and physical performance but too much of it can cause side effects such as anxiousness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. In this blog article, we will explore what caffeine is, what it does, how much we should we take, the pros and cons, and much more.

Inforgraphic on caffeine

How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso?

A single serving of espresso typically ranges from 30 to 50 mg of caffeine. Coffee beans, grind, brewing method, and other variables may all affect the end product. When it comes to the amount of caffeine it contains, a can of Coke that is 12 ounces is about similar to one shot of espresso.

How much caffeine is in a double shot of espresso?

A double shot of espresso is around 58 to 185 mg of caffeine. This is equivalent to the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, but it contains almost twice as much caffeine as a single shot of espresso. However, the amount of caffeine in coffee may vary greatly depending on the coffee bean used, the roasting process, and the technique used to prepare the coffee. Therefore, even though a double shot of espresso and a cup of coffee could have about the same amount of caffeine, it's conceivable that the cup contains more or less caffeine than the double shot. This depends on how much coffee is brewed.

How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso at Starbucks?

Starbucks espresso will have a little more than a typical shot of 75 mg of caffeine can be found in a standard serving of espresso at Starbucks. This, however, can change depending on the size of the shot and the type of espresso beans used. You can ask for a double shot of espresso, which has approximately 150 milligrams of caffeine if you're looking for a caffeine fix that's more potent than the average cup of coffee.

starbucks coffee cup

Caffeine levels vary with coffee types

Yes, definitely. Some coffee brands have a lot more caffeine than others. Arabica beans, for example, contain less caffeine than Robusta beans. Arabica coffee has a milder taste because of this.

There is a correlation between the coffee's caffeine content and the brewing method. Espresso is best known for its high caffeine content per ounce. Because espresso is created by pressurized hot water through densely packed coffee grounds, it contains far more caffeine than regular coffee.

Select an espresso or Robusta mix if you'd like something with a little more kick. Select an Arabica mix if you want a milder brew. In addition, the amount of coffee you put into your cup will affect how much caffeine it contains.

Measuring cups with coffee

Is caffeine a drug?

Absolutely. Caffeine dependency and addiction are real. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Inability to focus

Over the long term, the benefits of cutting caffeine from your system are much more improved sleep. Quality sleep is fundamental to overall health as Dr. Mathew Walker, founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science, and a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, explained in his book Why We Sleep. According to his research, getting too little sleep has a lot of negative effects: it makes us more likely to get heart disease and diabetes, leads us to make mistakes, makes simple tasks like driving much more dangerous, and affects our moods.

We ingest more caffeine than ever before, evidenced by the fact that 2.2 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily across the world. The effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition have been studied and research shows that caffeine can make you sleepy during the day. Sleep deprivation combined with caffeine consumption is risky, especially for teens.

Person sleeping

What do caffeine do to your body?

Our bodies contain a neurotransmitter (think of it like small keys) called adenosine. Over time, levels rise, and it gradually makes us sleepy - which is called sleep pressure. Eventually, the adenosine fits into a receptor (key hole) and we drift off to sleep. Caffeine also fits into that same receptor - it gets there before adenosine. In other words, you don't get tired because it blocks the action of that neurotransmitter.

Meanwhile, adenosine does not go away. It keeps building up the level in your bloodstream. Once caffeine is metabolized and the receptors are free again, adenosine floods your system, and you get tired.

Caffeine blocks all adenosine receptors, regardless of location. Adenosine receptors are all over your body, helping you sleep and wake. The adenosine binds to specific receptors on the surface of the cell and decreases the activity of nerve cells. Caffeine blocks adenosine from binding to these receptors, so nerve cells release more neurotransmitters.

Caffeine stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine plays a role in the brain's reward system, among other neurotransmitters. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that helps the body fight or flee.

chemistry formula of adenosine and caffeine

Caffeine has a half-life of three to five hours. Studies show it takes the body three to six hours to get rid of half of the caffeine it takes in. Caffeine takes a long time to leave the body, depending on many factors like age, liver function, and pregnancy.

It also offers certain health advantages, despite the possible risks, there is a reduction of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Headaches

Caffeine treats headaches, apnea of prematurity, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia in newborns. It's also used for its diuretic properties.


How much caffeine is OK?

The recommended daily caffeine intake for healthy adults is 400 milligrams (mg).The equivalent of four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of cola. It's recommended for teens to limit their caffeine intake to less than 100 mg a day (one 8-ounce cup of coffee or about two cans of soda).

Reducing your caffeine intake

Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coffee, energy drinks, and drinks. It's also in some medications. While caffeine has its uses, too much can make you anxious, irritable, and sleepless. If you want to reduce your caffeine intake, you have a few options:

  • Reduce your consumption gradually. Start by reducing your daily coffee intake to one or two cups. Consider switching to decaf options or reducing your energy drink intake.
  • There's caffeine everywhere, so be careful! Many over-the-counter medications contain caffeine, like pain relievers and cold remedies. Know what to look for on product labels if you're on a caffeine-free diet.
  • Last but not least, try new drinks. Decaf or herbal tea are good options if you like your hot drinks. Also, you can get sodas and energy drinks without caffeine.
  • For motivation, listen to Michael Pollan's audiobook on caffeine or his free interview on NPR where he talks about his experience cutting off caffeine for 3 months.
picture of Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan (picture found on flickr)

The process of caffeine withdrawal can take time and dedication, but it's possible. By gradually reducing your caffeine consumption and being aware of caffeine's presence in unexpected places, you can reduce your caffeine consumption effectively. The book Caffeine by Michael Pollan is a must-read in a world where millions of cups of coffee are consumed every day.


Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that boosts performance, increases heart rate, and raises blood pressure. You can get caffeine from coffee, tea, cocoa, cola, and chocolate. Small amounts don't pose any health risks, but too much of it can cause problems.

The book Caffeine by Michael Pollan is a must-read in a world where millions of cups of coffee are consumed every day.

coffee beans


Amélie has a dual Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Literature. She wrote a Master's Thesis on the importance of blending scientific knowledge with the arts to create a healthier culture. She also has a Bachelor of Education and has been teaching Biology and Language Arts since 2016. She is happily addicted to coffee and constantly learning.

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