Coffee vs Espresso: Which One Will Give You The Best Caffeine Buzz?

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We love to get a great caffeine buzz. Whether we are prepping for work, getting an energy boost for the gym, or supercharging our afternoon. There’s nothing better than a great caffeine fix.

But with all the great coffee choices, and espresso drinks we can even easily prepare at home, which is better? If a caffeine buzz is what we are after, who wins in the coffee vs espresso competition?

There are tastes, brands, preparations and mixes to consider when thinking about caffeine content and getting that perfect jolt. But we have you covered.

An assorted selection of coffees, including espresso

Check out our guide for getting the biggest ounce for ounce punch from your favorite coffee drinks.

Let’s take you through the numbers.

Here we go!

What’s the Difference in Coffee vs Espresso?

Many people believe the big difference in coffee beans and espresso beans is the flavor and amount of caffeine in the bean itself. This isn’t necessarily true though.

The big difference in coffee vs espresso when the beans are concerned is this: There is no difference.

The beans themselves are very similar, with variations in the taste and preparation method. When you buy espresso beans the grower is simply suggesting these beans are best prepared under pressure.

The brand recommends you prepare them with a tighter and denser packing for the best flavor results.

But just like a traditional cup of coffee, if you add more coffee grounds, or water down with more liquid, you will affect the amount of caffeine. You can even experiment using your favorite coffee brands to make espresso and vice-versa.

By The Numbers

The Food and Drug Administration lists the amount of caffeine in a single cup of coffee as varying between 60 and 150 milligrams.

The Mayo Clinic has broken down the amount of caffeine by ounces and milligrams in some standard coffee drinks. They are as follows:

  • 8 Ounces of Brewed Coffee: 95-165 milligrams of caffeine
  • 1 Ounce of Espresso: 47-64 milligrams of caffeine
  • 8 Ounces of Latte or Mocha: 63-126 milligrams of caffeine

Digital scales weighing a pot of coffee beans

Even using the low end of caffeine content per ounce for espresso, and the high limits for traditional coffee, the espresso wins.

But, as you can see, the more you mix milk and foam in your beverage, the more you dilute the caffeine content. Your basic 8-ounce cup of coffee still has more caffeine than a traditional single-shot latte.

Critics say that the comparison is difficult. Most people wouldn’t drink the same amount of espresso as they would coffee.

That said, there is a wide variety in each category as well. You may find you are getting more caffeine from your home brew coffee than you might in a single espresso shot.

Different varieties of coffee and espresso make a big difference when it comes to the amount of caffeine.

A Wide Variety

It’s nearly impossible to get a straight answer when it comes to the amount of caffeine in any single coffee drink. The competition isn’t just between coffee vs espresso but in a wide variety of options in-between.

Why? There are different strengths of both coffee and espresso beans and the number of beans used impacts caffeine strength as well.

Walk into a grocery store, buy online, or choose at your local coffee shop and you’ll be weighing many different options. Dark roast, light roast, cold press, and espresso all have different caffeine content.

Different types of coffee pictures together

The species of your coffee bean is also important. Robusta has a higher caffeine content than the world’s most popular coffee bean, the arabica.

Add in the different brands, origins, and varieties, and there is a wide range of caffeine.

But drip for drip you will have more caffeine in espresso.

The Ultimate in Coffee vs Espresso

So, you understand that if you want the most out of caffeine fix, there are different amounts and different ways to concoct the perfect drink.

But what if you want the most caffeine you can get out of a super drink? You may want to combine the two, like a cafe in Australia has.

A cafe in Adelaide, Australia, developed the “Asskicker.” The drink is a mix of 4 espresso shots, 2 different strengths of cold drip coffee, and milk.

The inventor of the Asskicker claims the drink has 80 times the caffeine of a standard shot of coffee. But don’t mix up your own version and just gulp it down though!

This type of drink is designed to be sipped slowly. Enjoying the beverage over the course of 3 to 5 hours promises to keep you charged with energy for up to 18 hours.

Don’t Get Too Much of a Good Thing

There is such a thing as too much caffeine. Anyone who has overindulged in energy drinks or downed one too many gulps of their favorite energy drink will tell you to beware.

And with a new trend of adding caffeine to foods to give an extra kick of energy, the FDA has clamped down on recommended doses.

A sick woman drinking coffee

According to a report in 2013, the FDA recommends that healthy adults limit themselves to 400 milligrams a day of caffeine. The amount is approximately 4 or 5 cups of coffee.

Of course, the reason it is 4 or 5 cups is because caffeine all depends on how much you use to brew, and the type of coffee bean you use.

When trying to get your head around the coffee vs espresso debate, make sure you aren’t getting too much of a good thing.

Get the Best Ounce for Ounce

It’s clear that if you took the same amount of a typically brewed cup of coffee and espresso you’d definitely have more kick in the espresso.

Plus, there is so much variety when it comes to this little champion.

Not sure which espresso drinks to start trying at home?

We can help. We have put together a guide to basic espresso drinks you can try.

You can also adjust the espresso content for taste, caffeine, and your personal enjoyment. Whether you like espresso shots, double shots, cappuccinos or lattes, we have you covered.

Click here now to read our guide for preparing espresso drink recipes at home and get started right away.

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Brian Wills
Brian Wills
As a qualified Barista, I've used coffee machines and espresso makers for many years. I'm now using this website to share my love of coffee along with my opinion on the best machines. I'll be documenting my experience within the coffee industry, and sharing a great deal of information on how to make coffee and espresso drink recipes.
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