Amount of Caffeine in Coffee, Tea, Soft Drink, and Other Beverages and Products

Posted on 30 Sep 2012 18:52

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Several plants contain caffeine, such as the coffee bean, the tea leaf, the cocoa bean (cacao), and even the kola nut used for cola beverages. The amount of caffeine in a prepared beverage depends on the type of plant it is made from, the brewing method, and the grind used. Also, the growing conditions of the individual plants, the soils and climates, can effect the concentration of caffeine contained in the plant. Although much of the caffeine we consume occurs naturally in brewed beverages, a good deal of it is added. For instance, although the kola nut does contain caffeine, most of the caffeine in cola soft drinks is added, using purified caffeine obtained from decaffeinated coffee beans. Still, at least 10 percent of the caffeine in colas, and in pepper flavored soft drinks, is obtained from the cola nuts. This naturally occurring caffeine does not have to be listed on the ingredients label, if no other caffeine is added.

Although the FDA classifies caffeine as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), it actually regulates caffeine under three different sections of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. In coffee and tea, it is a natural ingredient and since the amount of the caffeine these products contains is not seen to ordinarily injure health, are approved and not subject to any legislation concerning their caffeine content.

When caffeine is used as an additive, it's GRAS status means that manufacturers do not have to prove the safety of caffeine, or seek any type of approval to add caffeine to their product. However, the FDA limits the amount of caffeine that can be added to certain foods.

Caffeine is generally recognized as safe when used in cola-type beverages up to a level of 0.02 percent or 200 parts per million. This means that the maximum amount of caffeine allowed in a 12 ounce carbonated beverage (255mL) is about 72mg.

The following table shows the average caffeine amounts in coffee, tea, and over the counter drugs. Please note that it is difficult to give precise ranges of naturally occurring caffeine content. The caffeine content depends on the amount of water used, the method of brewing, and the type of coffee or tea. For instance, lighter roast coffee has slightly more caffeine than a darker roast, which belies the myth that an espresso has more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. Also, the longer the coffee is exposed to hot water, the great the amount of caffeine that will be extracted. These values should be taken as a means of comparison between different products rather than as a precise indication of the maximum amount of caffeine that a product may contain. The amounts of naturally occuring caffeine in products such as coffee, tea, and chocolate, are given as an average amount that might be found. Note that in reality, the caffeine content exists within a range and the average amounts are reported based on the known ranges, within reason.

Although individual soft drink brands are listed below, note that cola soft drinks, in general, contain 45 to 55 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounce can. Most root beer products are caffeine free, except for Barq's Root Beer.

Caffeine Amount in Selected Beverages

Beverages and Foods Serving Size Average Caffeine Content (mg)
Coffee, brewed 8 oz 95
Coffee, instant 8 oz 64
Starbuck's Cafe Grande 16 oz 259
Tea, green 8 oz 30
Tea, black leaf or bag 8 0z 47
Tea, instant 8 oz 26
Lipton Brisk Iced Tea drink 12 oz 7
Nestea Cool Iced Tea drink 12 oz 12
Snapple Iced Tea (any flavor) 16 oz 42
Soft Drinks (sodas)
7 Up 12 oz 0
A&W Creme Soda 12 oz 29
A%W Root Beer 12 oz 0
Barq's Root Beer 12 oz 23
Cherry Coke 12 oz 34
Coca-Cola 12 oz 34
Diet Coke 12 oz 45
Diet Pepsi 12 oz 36
Dr. Pepper 12 oz 41
Fresca 12 oz 0
Jolt Cola* 12 oz 72
Mello Yello 12 oz 53
Mr. Pibb 12 oz 40
Mountain Dew 12 oz 55
Mountain Dew Code Red 12 oz 55
Mug Root Beer 12 oz 0
Pepsi 12 oz 38
Pepsi One 12 oz 55
RC Cola 12 oz 45
Sierra Mist 12 oz 0
Sprite 12 oz 0
Sunkist Orange 12 oz 40
Surge 12 oz 51
Energy Drinks
5 Hour Energy 2 oz shot 138
Ace Energy Drink 16 oz 160
Amp Energy Drink 16 oz 142
Red Bull 8.46 80
Rockstar 16 160
SoBe Energy Citrus 20 80
Chocolate Ice Cream 50g 3.5
Chocolate Milk 8 oz 5
Chocolate Syrup 1 oz 4
Hershey Chocolate Bar 43g 10
Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Bar 41g 31
Hot Chocolate 8 oz 4.5
Hot Cocoa Beverage 8 oz 11
Milk Chocolate 1 oz 10
Krackel Bar 47g 8.5
Ovaltine any 0
Candy Bars**
100 Grand Bar 43g 11.2
Baby Ruth Bar 60g 2.4
Butterfinger bar 61g 2.4
Kit Kat Bar 46g 5
Peanut Butter Cup 51g 5.6

* Although Jolt Cola has been re-branded as energy drinks containing even more caffeine, the original Jolt cola is still available in long neck 12oz bottles, bottled by 7up bottlers on the West Coast.

** Amounts given for candy bars and chocolate bar reflect the amount in 1 bar.

Caffeine Amounts for Selected Analgesics, Cold Remedies, Stimulants, and Other Products

Product Amount Caffeine Content (mg)
Advil 1 tablet, caplet, gelcap 0
Anacin Regular Strength 1 tablet, caplet 32
Anacin Maximum Strength 1 tablet 32
Aspirin (plain, any brand) any 0
BC Powder 1 powder 33.3
BC Arthritis Strength Powder 1 powder 38
Bufferin 1 tablet 0
Excedrin Extra Strength 1 caplet, tablet, geltab, gelcap 65
Excedrin Migraine 1 tablet, caplet, geltab 65
Excedrin Tension Headache 1 geltab, gelcap, caplet 65
Excedrin Back and Body 1 caplet 0
Midol Complete 1 gelcap 60
Midol Extended Relief 1 caplet 0
Midol Teen 1 caplet 0
Midol Liquid Gels 1 capsule 0
Midol PM 1 caplet 0
Motrin 1 caplet 0
Motrin PM 1 caplet 0
Children's Motrin 1 tsp/5 ml 0
Infant's Motrin 1.25 ml 0
Tylenol Products
Tylenol Arthritis Pain 1 caplet 0
Tylenol Regular Strength 1 tablet, caplet 0
Tylenol Extra Strength 1 tablet, caplet 0
Tylenol Rapid Release 1 gelcap 0
Tylenol Ultra Relief Tough on Headaches 1 tablet 65
Tylenol Muscle Aches and Body Pain 1 tablet 0
Tylenol Back Pain 1 caplet 0
Tylenol Menstrual 1 caplet 0
Tylenol Cold, Flu, Cough, and Sinus products* various 0
Cold Medicines
Actifed 1 tablet 0
Comtrex various 0
Contac 1 tablet 0
Dristan 1 tablet 30
SUDAFEDĀ® (pseudoephedrine HCI) 1 tablet 0
Triaminicin 1 tablet 30
Stimulant OTC poducts
Caffedrine 1 tablet 200
NoDoz 1 caplet 200
Vivarin 1 tablet 200
Aqua-Ban 1 tablet 100

*Tylenol makes various cold, cough, sinus symptom, and flu relief products. None of them contain caffeine.

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