There’s nothing we enjoy more than an expertly-brewed cup of high-quality coffee, but let’s face it, there are many times when the caffeine hit is as important as the taste.
But if we want to keep an eye on our health, we need to know how much caffeine is in one coffee bean. Here are the answers.
How much caffeine in one coffee bean?
To give a simple answer, a single coffee bean contains about 6mg of caffeine. In this case, we are talking about a normal-sized arabica bean – meaning a robusta bean of the same size would contain about 12mg of caffeine.
It is worth noting, however, that larger-than-average beans are likely to contain slightly higher amounts of caffeine simply because they are bigger.
Is that the only answer?
The problem with trying to judge how much caffeine there is in a single bean is that there are other aspects to consider. One of these is what you plan to do with the bean.
Most coffee beans are destined to be ground down and brewed into coffee. This means the most pertinent question to ask is not how much caffeine is in a single bean but how much caffeine makes it into the cup.
When brewing coffee, not all of the 6mg of caffeine is extracted; in fact, it is estimated that, of that amount, only 1-2mg ends up in the drink.
If we are talking about coffee as a drink, it is probably far more useful to know how much caffeine there is per cup than per bean, although even this is more complicated than it might seem.
The caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary greatly, depending on the type of bean, the brewing method, the grind, how much coffee is used in brewing and, of course, the size of the cup.
Having said that, to give a very approximate figure, we can say that there is roughly 100-200mg of caffeine in an average 8oz cup.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is classed as a psychoactive drug – that puts it in the same category as things like cocaine and amphetamines.
However, unlike its more notorious cousins, it is completely legal in most countries, and its daily consumption is perfectly normal and acceptable.
In its pure state, caffeine is a white alkaloid powder with a bitter taste – this is one of the things that contributes to the bitter taste of coffee.
When ingested, it stimulates the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood flow, making you feel more alert and energetic.
No wonder caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug in the world!
Check out this great video that explains the details of how caffeine does its thing.
Two species of coffee plant
So back to the question of how much caffeine is in one coffee bean. On the surface, this question would appear quite simple. Unfortunately, there is one major factor that complicates matters.
Coffee beans are the seeds from the fruit of the Coffea plant. There are many species of plant within the Coffea genus, but only two are grown commercially for coffee, C. arabica and C. canephora – the latter being commonly known as robusta.
Although the caffeine content can vary between varietals (different strains of the same species) and even from plant to plant on the same farm, the important point to remember is that robusta beans tend to contain around twice the caffeine of the more refined arabica beans.
How much caffeine per day is it safe to consume?
The main reason we need to know how much caffeine there is per bean or per cup is to calculate how much coffee it is safe to consume.
While the exact figure varies depending on who you ask, most authorities will tell you that around 400-500mg of caffeine per day is a reasonable amount.
While it takes a much higher dose than this for caffeine to become toxic in humans, you may start to feel some unpleasant side effects such as jitteriness, anxiety or insomnia if you exceed this dose. For people with normal tolerance, four or five cups per day is considered quite safe and healthy.
It is also worth remembering that in some rare cases, death from caffeine overdose has been recorded in very sensitive individuals who only consumed a relatively small amount of caffeine.
What about eating them?
There is one reason you might be interested in the amount of caffeine per bean as opposed to the amount per cup and that is if you are partial to nibbling on chocolate-coated coffee beans.
If you want to make your own, check out this video recipe!
Does eating coffee beans in this way deliver caffeine in the same way as drinking coffee, and if so, how much?
The answer to this question is yes, if you eat coffee beans, you ingest caffeine just the same as when you drink coffee.
However, as we said, when you brew coffee, not all of the caffeine is extracted – but if you eat a coffee bean, you are ingesting all the caffeine contained inside.
Furthermore, chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine, so we can add a further 1mg of caffeine per bean due to the chocolate coating. This means each bean is “worth” about 7mg of caffeine.
A quick calculation will tell us that eating between 15 and 30 beans is the equivalent of drinking a regular cup of coffee – and eating about 70 equates to the recommended daily dose of caffeine.
So chocolate covered coffee beans might be a delicious treat – but munch them in moderation, especially before bedtime – otherwise you might find it impossible to sleep!
Small beans, powerful effect
So now we know how much caffeine is in one coffee bean – as well as how much you ingest by brewing them into coffee or eating them directly. With this information, you should now be able to make informed decisions about how much caffeine you consume per day.
How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? Do you enjoy eating chocolate covered beans? Have you ever eaten a whole pack only to spend a miserable night suffering from insomnia?
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