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Does Espresso Have More Caffeine than Coffee?

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Does Espresso Have More Caffeine than Coffee

Caffeine is one of the main reasons we drink coffee—besides the delicious taste, of course. The amount of caffeine in our coffee beverages can vary depending on what beverage it is. If caffeine content matters to you, then you’ve probably wondered if a cup of coffee or an espresso has more caffeine.

The short answer is that a cup of coffee typically has more caffeine than a shot of espresso. But how can that be? Keep reading to learn all about the caffeine content of these popular drinks.

Caffeine Level of Espresso

The level of caffeine in your espresso drink can change depending on 3 things: the amount of espresso, the type of espresso shot, and the roast used. We’ll explain how each one of these has a different effect on the caffeine level.

1. Amount of Espresso

A single shot of espresso has 64 mg of caffeine. Naturally, as you add more espresso, the caffeine level climbs. The average plain espresso and even espresso drinks, such as cappuccinos, contain 2-3 shots of espresso. Therefore, the average range for an espresso drink is between 128-192 mg of caffeine.

2. Type of Espresso Shot

This matters because the caffeine level changes depending on how much water is pushed through the grounds and at what rate. Two examples are ristretto and lungo espresso shots. Ristretto shots use half as much water as regular espresso shots, and the extraction is much quicker. This means it has less caffeine than the average espresso shot. A lungo espresso shot is the opposite. It uses twice the water and takes longer to extract, which means it has a slightly higher caffeine level than regular espresso.

espresso shot

Image credit: brian, Flickr

3. The Roast

Although many have the impression that espresso is a single roast, it’s actually the fine grind needed to extract the concentrated flavor. This means you can have espresso from any blend or roast you prefer. There are four major roasts (dark, medium-dark, medium, and light) and they all have different caffeine levels. The longer a coffee bean is roasted, the less caffeine it retains. Light roast has the most caffeine, while dark roast has the least. Most coffee shops use a dark roast for their espresso. Starbucks has both dark (regular) espresso and light (blonde) espresso. According to their website, one shot of their regular espresso has 75 mg of caffeine, while one shot of their blonde espresso has 85 mg of caffeine.

espresso roast

Caffeine Level in Coffee

An average 8 oz cup of coffee has 155 mg of caffeine. As the size of your cup of coffee increases, so does the caffeine level. The amount of caffeine in coffee can change depending on the roast, just like espresso. Again, referencing the Starbucks website, the eight ounce dark roast has 130 mg of caffeine, while the eight ounce blonde roast coffee has 180 mg.


Although there are variables that can change the caffeine level in both espresso and coffee, coffee usually has more caffeine. You would have to drink three shots of espresso to equal the amount of caffeine that is found in one average eight ounce cup of coffee. Espresso’s bold, intense flavor and concentrated form lead most to believe it has more caffeine. But coffee is, in fact, the winner.

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Featured image credit: aajusan, Pixabay