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Which Beverages Have the Highest Level of Caffeine?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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High caffeine levels are most commonly associated with coffee and energy drinks. There can be variance among the amount of caffeine offered in these beverages, but generally, they are still lower than the amount of caffeine in coffee. Where a person gets his coffee may make a difference in how much caffeine it contains, too.

The standard home brewed, 8-ounce (0.23 L) cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine. People who drink a cup of coffee from Starbucks®, however, will find that it can contain as much as 250 mg. Those who enjoy coffee from coffee shops might want to consider sticking with lattes or mochas, especially when they buy large sizes. A 16-ounce (0.47 L) cup of coffee from Starbucks® will have 500 mg of caffeine, but a similarly sized latte or mocha is lower in caffeine than a standard cup of coffee, with about 75 mg.

Caffeine levels in energy drinks may also vary, although most are lower, ounce-for-ounce, than the standard cup of coffee. The highest contain about about the same amount as someone would find in a home brewed cup of coffee, usually between 80 and 120 mg. A couple of energy drinks boast much higher levels of caffeine per ounce — even up to 100 mg — and they often use this as a selling point.

Virtually all colas, caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas fall well below the high levels found in coffee and certain energy drinks. Experts are now becoming increasingly concerned about caffeine intake among teens, especially energy drinks that contain sugar. Unlike coffee, which is primarily sipped, energy drinks are often consumed very quickly. An 8-ounce (0.23 L) can seems like a very minimal amount of a “soda” type drink. Especially for those drinks that are feature a lot of caffeine, there is a concern that young people can easily become ill from drinking so much so quickly.

Death by caffeine is fairly rare, and a person would need to drink around 35 cups of coffee very quickly. Caffeine toxicity from drinks with high caffeine levels is becoming more common, however. People may feel as though they’ve taken methamphetamines when consuming 4 to 5 ounces (118 to 147.8 ml) of some energy drinks. Higher amounts of caffeine can create the opposite of the expected reaction: many teens feel sleepy instead of alert after consuming highly caffeinated drinks.

Given the risks, individuals may want to stick with their own cup of coffee, or even try some decaffeinated drinks now and again. They may want to consider a nice herbal tea, a decaffeinated cup of coffee from a cafe, or a cup of cocoa, with only about 5 mg of caffeine per 8 oz (0.23 L).

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Nov 18, 2012

@ddljohn-- Black tea has the highest caffeine, followed by oolong tea, white tea and green tea. Herbal teas don't have any caffeine.

I think black tea and caffeinated sodas have about the same amount of caffeine. Maybe sodas' might be a little higher.

The confusing part about sodas is that they never label how much caffeine it contains. So no one has an idea.

By ddljohn — On Nov 17, 2012

Which teas have the highest caffeine?

By candyquilt — On Nov 16, 2012

My body is like a caffeine measurement tool! I always know when a beverage has a lot of caffeine because I get a lot energy, followed by jitters, health palpitations and anxiety.

For example, I have been drinking Arabic coffee for a while and the other day, I thought I would have American coffee for a change. I had the worst anxiety attack and jitters ever. So I guess American coffee has a higher caffeine content than the Arabic one. It's interesting because they're both coffee.

By healthy4life — On Nov 10, 2012

The caffeine amount in energy drinks is just scary. My husband drinks them every weekend, because he has to get up at 3 in the morning and work about twelve hours.

He drinks one on his way to work to help him stay awake while driving. He drinks another one about halfway through the day to keep his energy up, because he gets paid on production.

I worry about him, because I know that high levels of caffeine can mess with your heart. He is a big guy, so the drinks don't affect him as much as they would me, but still, that much caffeine every weekend can't be good for him.

He has tried just drinking caffeinated soda instead, but it doesn't work. His body has gotten used to insane amounts of caffeine, so that is what it takes to get him going now.

By orangey03 — On Nov 09, 2012

@Kristee – I'm fairly sensitive to caffeine, so I have to make my own at home. I use a much smaller scoop of coffee than most people I know.

It's just enough to wake me up, but not enough to make me nervous or hyper. When relatives visit and stay for a few days, I have to dilute the coffee they make, because they like it strong.

I pour about half a cup of coffee and fill the rest of the mug with milk. That way, I'm still getting about the same amount of caffeine that I normally get when I make the coffee.

By StarJo — On Nov 09, 2012

I was trying to cut way down on caffeine a few months ago, so I switched from coffee to citrus green tea. I was surprised to learn later on that green tea has caffeine in it!

Caffeine is so hard to get away from. You really have to read labels on teas before you buy them. The ones with no caffeine usually boast about it on the front of the box.

By Kristee — On Nov 08, 2012

I had no idea that the caffeine levels in coffee from coffee shops were so high! No wonder I feel jittery after drinking one!

I used to enjoy mochas and lattes, but as I got older, my craving for sugar lessened. Now, I feel sick if I drink or eat something that is overly sweet, so I have started drinking regular coffee. That way, I can add however much sugar I want.

So, I won't be ordering a mocha or latte from a coffee shop. Whenever possible, I make my own coffee at home. If I have to order it from a shop, I get the smallest size possible.

By anon131637 — On Dec 03, 2010

go for energy drinks. they have more than 160 mg/500 ml.

By anon78927 — On Apr 20, 2010

Mountain Dew has 37 mg. not that high lol.

By luna49 — On Oct 23, 2009

Some energy drinks really have a lot of caffeine - Spike has 300 mg per 8.4 oz serving

By cayenne — On Mar 31, 2008

Be careful because many sodas, energy drinks, infused juices, coffee drinks, etc. have the nutrition label say that it is worth 2 or 3 servings. However, most people don't look at that part and only look at the nutrition facts. You're actually getting two or three times the sugar, caffeine, etc that it says because we drink such big portions now. Don't forget to do the math.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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