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The Truth About Caffeine Content

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Let me guess: You think that smoldering cup of black, dark roast coffee you have every morning is loaded with tons more caffeine than a cup of light roast coffee with some cream and sugar, right? I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not exactly how it works. Let River Blend teach you the truth about the amounts of caffeine in dark versus light roasted coffee.

The bolder and stronger taste a coffee has is not an indicator of more caffeine as most believe. Neither is the size or color of the bean. The larger, darker-colored appearance of a coffee bean that has undergone the dark roasting process simply looks that way because of the length of time it spent in the roaster.

So if the roasting process doesn’t affect the caffeine content, what does? The answer: the brewing method and type of bean. This is due to the fact that caffeine levels are calculated as a percentage in terms of the total amount of dry coffee. Per coffee bean, light and dark roasts have about the same amount of caffeine. But the amount of dry coffee that is scooped, measured and brewed is what will create differences in caffeine content.

The cold brewing method actually produces the most caffeine due to the high coffee beans-to-water ratio and the much longer brewing time. For a 12-ounce cold brew, the typical caffeine content is about 200 milligrams. And the drip coffee method produces the least amount of caffeine per serving, about 95 milligrams per 8-ounce cup.

The three main types of coffee: Arabica, Liberica and Robusta vary in caffeine content. Arabica coffee contains 0.6 to 1.2% caffeine, Liberica coffee contains 1.2 to 1.5% and Robusta coffee contains 1.8 to 3.0% caffeine.

At the end of the day, light roasts and dark roasts have a very similar amount of caffeine. If you want to get super technical, light roasts can have slightly more because the beans are smaller (due to less exposure in the heat of the roaster) and as a result, you end up having more beans in the same scoop than the larger, dark roast beans. More beans mean more coffee, which means more caffeine.

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