Caffeine content of espresso vs. cold brew vs. drip coffee

Last month CNET broke down the caffeine content of espresso, cold brew, and drip coffee. The timing of the article couldn’t be worse — interest in cold brew coffee picks up in the summer and dies out in the fall. But there’s still some interesting points worth considering.

First, the amount of caffeine you consume depends both on the brewing method and on how much you consume. Generally for espresso that’s only a shot or two, but varies a little more with drip coffee. Second, cold brew is typically made as a concentrate and diluted with some water, though the amount of dilution often varies significantly.

What’s a little surprising here though is just how much caffeine is in cold brew coffee compared to espresso and drip. I’m no chemist, but I’d assume this is related to both the longer steep time and higher coffee to water ratio of cold brew.

If you’ve never tried cold brew coffee I’d definitely encourage you to do so, though maybe wait until hotter weather makes it more palatable. It’s simple enough that anyone with a coffee grinder can make it at home. (And yes, once again I swear I’ll add cold brew techniques to this website someday.) Compared to drip coffee, cold brew has a surprisingly “heavy” texture that’s similar to mineral water, but otherwise smells similar to drip coffee.

Despite CNET’s findings, I’ve always found the caffeine rush from cold brew to be fairly mellow. But maybe my body is different than yours — what do you think? I’d suggest testing this one out on your own.

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