Which Coffee Roast Has the Most Caffeine?

When it comes to coffee, what drink has the most caffeine? Learn what factors impact the buzz in your morning mug.

Like much of America, you might be a coffee lover. But not all drinks are the same when looking at caffeine content. Does the roast, type of bean or brewing method affect how much caffeine is in your cup of joe? We’ll discover what drink has the most caffeine and give recommendations on the best types of coffee for a jolt in the morning or mellow afternoon pick-me-up.

What Affects the Amount of Caffeine in a Drink?

Roast

The degree to which coffee beans are roasted affects the caffeine level. Though darker roasted beans have a more intense flavor, they actually have less caffeine than light roast. This is because the longer the beans are roasted, the more caffeine burns off. Light roasts can have 60% more caffeine than dark roasts when measured by volume!

Type of Coffee

There are two species of coffee plants that are available to us: Arabica or Robusta. Arabica was the first coffee plant to be discovered and makes up about 70% of all coffee produced in the world. Robusta is less common and used primarily in blends and instant coffee. Research has found that coffee extracted from Robusta beans typically contains twice the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica.

Learn more about the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans.

Brewing Method

The way you brew your coffee will make a difference in how much caffeine is extracted, too. Instant, drip, French press and brewed coffee will have less caffeine than cold brew and espresso.

If you want to extract more caffeine out of your coffee, there are some tricks that you can try at home. Increasing your coffee to water ratio slightly, grinding your beans finer than normal, upping your water temperature or letting your coffee hang out in the French press a little longer all lead to higher caffeine extraction.

Don’t miss our list of caffeinated drinks, ranked from least to most caffeine.

What Drink Has the Most Caffeine?

With this freshly brewed knowledge, you can make an educated decision on what type of coffee best aligns with your needs. In general, lighter roasts and cold brews have more caffeine. So if you need to a big jolt of energy, try a cold brew made with a blonde roast. If you need a more mild lift, darker roasts brewed with a regular drip coffee maker will do you just fine.

That being said, it’s important to not go overboard, as overconsumption of caffeine can lead to insomnia, increased heart rate, anxiousness, headaches, dehydration and nausea. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is generally considered a safe amount, though everyone responds to caffeine differently.

The average cup of coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine, but depending on the roast and brewing method, a single cup can have 200 mg or more! Have fun experimenting with different types of coffee—in moderation, of course.

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Christina Manian, RDN
Christina Manian is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist based out of Boulder, Colorado. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, she has been involved with the nutrition departments of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mass General Hospital. She completed her nutrition education at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on medical nutrition therapy and most recently practiced clinical nutrition at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. While her background has largely been in the clinical setting, Christina embraces and is shifting her focus towards wellness nutrition as the backbone to optimum health.