Sources of caffeinePrint this page
Caffeine is an alkaloid occurring naturally in some 60 plant species, of which cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and coffee beans are the most well-known. Other natural sources of caffeine include yerba maté, guarana berries, guayusa, and the yaupon holly. Caffeine is added to many popular soft drinks, and is also a component of a number of pharmacological preparations and over-the-counter medicines including analgesics, diet-aids, and cold/flu remedies.
Typical amounts in food and beverages
The amount of caffeine consumed in beverages varies enormously and is dependent, for example, on the strength of the drink, and the amount consumed with cup size playing a key role. Coffea canephora (robusta) is known to contain more caffeine than Coffea Arabica (arabica). However, as a basic guideline an average sized cup of soluble coffee contains approximately 65 mg caffeine, whilst a cup of roast and ground coffee contains around 85 mg. A 30 ml espresso cup contains around 50-60 mg caffeine. Finally, a can of cola or a cup of tea contains 25-45 mg caffeine. Tea actually contains more caffeine than coffee on a dry weight basis, but a smaller weight of tea is generally used to prepare a brew. Decaffeinated coffee generally provides less than 3 mg caffeine per cup. Cocoa and chocolate contain much smaller amounts of caffeine.
Caffeine content of drinks and foods
|Drinks/Foods||Volume||Caffeine (mg)Mean (range)|
|Filtered coffee||125 ml||85 (60-135)|
|Espresso||30 ml||60 (35-100)|
|Soluble instant coffee||125 ml||65 (35-105)|
|Decaffeinated coffee||125 ml||3 (1-5)|
|Tea (leaves or bag)||150 ml||32 (20-45)|
|Iced tea||330 ml||20 (10-50)|
|Hot chocolate||150 ml||4 (2-7)|
|Caffeinated soft drinks||330 ml||39 (30-48)|
|Sugar-free caffeinated soft drinks||330 ml||41 (26-57)|
|Energy drinks||330 ml||80 (70-120)|
|Chocolate bar||30 g||20 (5-36)|
|Milk chocolate||30 g||6 (1-15)|
|Dark chocolate||30 g||60 (20-120)|
Data adapted from Illy et al., Harland et al., and Heckman et al2,3,4.
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