Caffeine is a well known stimulant. It's been used across the globes for centuries, mainly through coffee. But there are many other foods containing caffeine. Among them, we find tea. Now the question is; how much caffeine is in coffee vs tea?
During this article, we'll review the two main sources of caffeine available in our supermarkets; coffee vs tea. What differentiates them from each other, and what's the caffeine content in coffee vs tea?
Scroll down to find out!
Caffeine is an alkaloid compound from the class of the methylxantines (source). It's been used across the globe for centuries, mainly in the form of coffee.
People use caffeine (and coffee) to improve their cognitive performance and focus. Such is the effect of caffeine, that over 160 million bags of coffee (60kg bags) were consumed on 2021 (source). And the market is growing every year. Coffee is -and has been- part of our everyday life.
But coffe is not the only source of caffeine. Other beverages and/or foods contain significant amounts of caffeine. Just behind coffee on the 'most consumed caffeine beverages' race, we have tea.
Tea has bee traditionally consumed in Asia and England, but it's now widely consumed all over the world. To follow the statistics, over 6 billion kg of tea were consumed in 2021, and it's expected to grow to 7.4 billion kg for 2025 (source)
Mechanisms of Action of Caffeine
Caffeine works. It improves our cognitive performance, focus, and "wakes us up". But how is it does caffeine can do that? How does caffeine work in our metabolism to trigger all those effects?
Caffeine affects the Central Nervous System
Caffeine is the most popular central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, acting in three different ways (study):
- Antagonizing adenosine receptors
- Mobilizing intracelluar calcium
- Inhibiting specific phosphodiasterases
From these three mecahsnism, only the first one seems to be significant under normal caffeine concentrations. The other two mechanisms are only observed with very high non-physiological concentrations (study)
Caffeine Releases Catecholamines
Catecholamines are molecules inside our organism acting as neurotransmitters. Among them, we have the well known dopamine, or adrenaline (source).
Caffeine increases the secretion of epinephrine, and norepinephrine (study). The molecule interacts with the central nervous system in an oriented behaviour manner. That acts as a signal for the adrenal medulla to increase the production and secretion of these catecholamines. Similar trends are observed in adrenaline and noradrenaline (study)
Health Benefits of Caffeine
Caffeine and coffee have been traditionally used due to its different properties. The aim of drinking coffee was to improve concentration and focus. Now, that's only a small chunk of all health benefits we know about caffeine
Health Benefits of Caffeine:
- Increases focus and alertness
- Improves cognitive performance
- Stimulant Effect
- Increases metabolic rate and induces lipolysis
- Improves sports performance
- Prevents from mental disorders
Caffeine in Coffe vs Tea
Caffeine is not only found in coffee. In fact, caffeine is a common compound found in plants to fight insects and act as a pesticide (study), and it's found in a wide variety of plant-based products. Some of the most popular caffeine sources are tea, mate, cola, or cocoa (study)
However, all these caffeine sources differ on the nutritional matrix and content of caffeine. This affects the properties of caffeine, and may add extra benefits to its consumption. In the next 5min, we review the two main caffeine sources: coffee and tea.
How much Caffeine is in Coffee vs Tea?
Caffeine in Coffe
Coffee is the most consumed source of caffeine. More than 85% of U.S population drink at least 1 cup of coffee daily, and it is part of the morning routine of most of you.
This wide consumption -and in some cases addiction- is mainly due to caffeine. It makes you feel happier, boost your energy levels, and improve your focus for the daily activities coming up.
Coffee contains around 1.1-2.2% caffeine. An average cup (250ml) contains an average of 95mg caffeine (study). But this largely depends on the type of bean used, and the method of preparation.
Method of Preparation Affects Caffeine Content in Coffee
We know the method of preparation largely affects the caffeine content in our coffee (study). Both the grinding and brewing are important steps in the process of preparing coffee.
Grindings to larger extents increase caffeine content (study). As the coffee beans are ground, particles are more soluble and easier to extract.
Filtered coffee usually contains larger amounts of caffeine than boiled coffee (study). The portafilter, a method used to make espressos obtains the highest concentration of caffeine in the final coffee (study)
Caffeine Content in Different Types of Coffe Beans
There are different types of coffee beans cultivated around the globe. Almost each coffee-produced country makes its own coffee variety, and that largely affects the caffeine content in the coffee (study)
The two most popular coffe varities are Arabica and Robusta. The latests typically contains twice as much caffeine as Arabica, with 6.8-8.1% caffeine against the 3.4-3.8% present in Arabica (study)
The process of roasting also affects the caffeine content (study). As the degree of roasting increases, the caffeine content increases, and the presence of chlorogenic acid decreases.
Caffeine in Tea
Tea is a widely consumed hot beverage. It was traditionally used in Chinese medicine for its digestive and antioxidant properties (source)
All types of tea come from the plant Camellia Sinensis. The fermentation and treatment of the leaves is what makes the wide variety of teas. Green tea is made with unfermented tea leaves, while black tea is a variety of fermented tea (source). Other types of tea differ in the method and timing of fermentation.
Caffeine Content in Different Types of Tea
Tea leaves contain around 3.5% caffeine. However, that largely depends on the tea variety and method of preparations. A normal cup of tea (250mg) contains 14-61mg of caffeine (study). Out of all types of tea, black tea shows the highest content of caffeine, with up to 109mg per cup, compared to 35mg in green tea (study)(study)
Tea Infusion Times Affect Caffeine Content
Not only the type of tea affects caffeine content, but also the time of infusion does. Longer times of infusion show a higher caffeine content (study). Hot water favours caffeine extraction from tea leaves (study). The longer the contact between hot water and tea leaves, the higher the caffeine extraction.
Caffeine Coffee vs Tea: Which one should you drink?
Both beverages contain coffe. Now you know how much caffeine is in coffee vs tea. While coffee beans contain lower concentrations of caffeine than tea leaves (2.2% vs 3.5%), the amount of coffee beans is much larger than tea leaves. Thus, a cup of coffee contains more caffeine than tea.
But coffee and tea are more than caffeine. Coffee contains chlorigenic acids and other polyphenols, with a potential antioxidant capacity (study). Tea, on the other hand, contains larger amounts of polyphenols associated with a much more potent antioxidant capacity than the ones present in coffee (study)
If you just want to benefit from caffeine, go for coffee. However, tea may be interesting as it may provide extra benefits and contribute to your health. And of course, the selection will also depend on your taste and preferences.
Coffee and tea are the most popular caffeinated beverages in the world. Caffeine, acting as a stimulant, improves your energy levels, focus and alertness, and boosts your cognitive performance.
In this post, we've seen how much caffeine is in coffee vs tea. Now you know that caffeine content may differ depending on the type of coffee/tea used, the method of preparation, and temperature and time of infusion.