What Is The Cold Brew Caffeine Content (the short answer)
What is the cold brew coffee caffeine content? Is it higher or lower than hot brew? Espresso? And if so, exactly how much caffeine does cold brew coffee contain?
That is what I am trying to answer today
The short answer:
“The caffeine in a glass of cold brew could be anywhere between 50mg and 1g!?
A 1:5 ratio, 80% extraction, and 14oz serving size – The total caffeine content would be just above 1g(!?).
A 1:18 ratio, 80% extraction, and 14oz serving size – The total caffeine content would be about 280mg.
(if you assume the coffee beans contain 1.6g caffeine per 100g) “
The answer is pretty complicated, and there are a lot of parameters.
What makes the biggest difference?
What’s Affecting The Caffeine Content
So, what can affect the caffeine content in a glass or cup of coffee? We have the beans and their origin and roast. There are also different brewing methods, for example, espresso, drip coffee, French press, but there are also different cold brew brewing methods. And of course, the ratio between water and coffee affect the hot brew, and cold brew caffeine content.
Last but not least, the serving size. This makes all the difference. If you compare espresso with cold brew, you can’t compare the caffeine content for the same volume. Because you would never order a 14oz espresso, right? But you would order a 14oz glass of cold brew.
The Coffee Beans
Many people think a darker roast would contain more caffeine. Why would that be? I’m not sure… but it’s incorrect. Or at least nor correct. What’s interesting is that the origin is a more important parameter.
Coffee beans contain almost the same amount of caffeine, no matter roast. Why people believe a darker roast contains more caffeine is probably just because of the more intense coffee flavor.
The caffeine for each bean is almost the same, no matter roast. However, when we dark roast the coffee, a lot of the water that’s inside the beans will disappear. So, each bean will weigh less, but the caffeine content is still the same (almost). In other words, the caffeine content will be slightly higher per gram for dark roast and slightly higher per scoop for a light roast. It all depends on how you measure your coffee.
That said, the difference is minimal. We are talking somewhere around a 3% difference.
The Origin and Variety
The origin and variety will affect the hot brew and cold brew caffeine content WAAAY more than the roast. If the roast could make a 3% difference, these parameters can potentially cause a 600% difference (!?!).
Of course, the difference is often not 700%. But it is oftentimes still around 100%. The difference is greater if you compare different species (for example, Arabica and Robusta), but even between different varieties of the same species, there can be almost 100% difference.
Standard caffeine content for Robusta and Arabica would be 1.2g and 2.2g caffeine per 100g coffee.
Depending on the brewing method the caffeine content can anywhere from 30mg to 150mg or even higher. That’s a big difference. Depending on how used your body is to caffeine, 30mg might not make a difference, while 150mg or 200mg makes your heartbeat double in speed (at least it feels like it).
Why does the brewing method make such a big difference? Well…. Actually, it doesn’t. What makes the biggest difference is the coffee-to-water ratio and the serving size.
So what about cold brew? Well, I will come to that later.
Drip coffee would, traditionally, contain less caffeine than espresso per 100g. However, the serving sizes are often 8x, and therefore, the total caffeine content also gets bigger, somewhere between 65mg and 120mg per cup (8oz). Sometimes, even more.
Now, to what you came here for.
What’s The Caffeine Content In Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew probably has the largest difference when it comes to what coffee-to-water ratio people are using.
Some are using 1:5 (without adding any more water to serving… I don’t recommend this), and some are using 1:18. That is a biiiig difference.
However, cold brew also varies a lot when it comes to the serving size. Some people are pouring up 16oz while others are drinking half of that. Starbucks is serving 16oz, but some of that will be ice, so let’s say 14oz. I will use that number for the example below.
The hot water extracts about 90% of the caffeine from the coffee during the first minute of brewing. However, it is hard to find an exact number for cold brew.
We know that cold water extracts less caffeine, but we are not sure how big the difference is. According to this article, cold brew extracts 10.7% less caffeine. Again, this depends on brewing time, coffee beans, etc.
But let’s use that number and make some calculations. If hot brew extracts 90%, cold brew would than extract about 80%.
Answer (and example)
If you would use a 1:5 ratio, extract 80%, and serve 14oz: The total caffeine content would be just above 1g(!?). That is equal to 6.7 big cans of Red Bull!? Not many would drink 1:5 ratio cold brew though.
If you would use a 1:18 ratio, extract 80% and serve 14oz: the total caffeine content would be somewhere around 280mg. That is still equal to 1.9 big cans of Red Bull and 1:18 is a pretty common ratio for a cold brew.
For both of these examples, I used 1.6g/100g for the amount of caffeine in the beans. This number varies a lot and can be anywhere between 0.4 to 4.
If you are using a bean with a caffeine content of 0.9g/100g, the total number would be 44% less than the numbers above.
Note On Cold Brew Caffeine Content
While writing this, I thought this number must be too high… but after checking different producers’ nutritional content, it might not be that wrong (or rather, not wrong at all).
I can’t find anyone who sells cold brew with a 1:5 ratio. So I could not confirm that number, even though I know some people who make it like that at home.
But when I looked up Starbucks, their nitro cold brew contains 280mg/16oz. I checked the nitro because they serve no ice in that one.
Also, some of the drink-ready cold brew beverages I could find online had comparable amounts of caffeine.
A lot of parameters affect the caffeine content both in the cold brew but in any coffee. Things like the coffee bean origin, water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio, brewing method, and serving size all matter.
A glass (14oz) of cold brew using 1:12 – 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio could contain anywhere between 200-500mg. Or even lower or higher. The variety is enormous.
There is also great uncertainty about the extraction percentage.
Thank you for reading, and if you think your friends would be interested in this article, we would be super thankful if you wanted to share. It would help us a lot.