If you've been guilty of selecting a dark roast over a light roast in hopes that you would get more caffeine in each sip, you're not alone. If you've done the opposite thinking that lighter roasts have more caffeine because less has been "burned off" during the roasting process, then you're not alone either.
It actually turns out that both assumptions are incorrect.
So, then what actually affects the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee? How can you ensure that you are sipping on the best flavor and maximizing (or minimizing) your caffeine intake?
Very Little Caffeine is Lost During the Roasting Process.
One coffee myth states that the darker a coffee is roasted, the greater the amount of caffeine it contains. Well, the truth is that while darker roasts have bolder flavors, their deep flavor profiles do not equate to caffeine content.
In fact, marginal amounts of caffeine are actually lost during the roasting process giving lighter roasts an imperceptible advantage over the more robust varieties.
Realistically though, as long as the coffee you are drinking is prepared by weighing out the grounds, then the difference in caffeine content will be negligible in the final brew.
The Type of Coffee Bean Actually Affects the Caffeine Content.
In the coffee world there are two types of coffee species: coffea Arabica and coffea Robusta. However, unlike roasting, the type of beans you select will make a difference in your morning cup of joe's caffeine content.
Although, Robusta coffee has about 50 percent more caffeine than Arabica, it is not as highly regarded. With its strength in caffeine comes strength in taste, and most coffee devotees will agree, Robusta beans taste ... bitter.
Sorry, caffeine lovers, almost no gourmet coffee purveyor is going to carry Robusta beans. Besides, anyone who enjoys coffee's taste will want the nuances that are available in an Arabica bean's taste profile.
However, each variety of coffee has its advantages.
Why Drink Arabica?
Arabica beans are Robusta's more subtly flavored cousin. They are grown primarily in Latin America at high altitudes, where it's often cool and wet. Such a climate allows Arabica beans to develop their complex taste profiles.
Generally, Arabica beans are high in acidity, but soft and sweet in taste making them appreciated by most coffee aficionados.
Why Drink Robusta?
Robusta beans, although not as high quality as Arabica, have their place. Besides being cheap, and packed with caffeine (hello, Italian espresso), they are an incredibly easy variety to grow. Plus they are less vulnerable to pests and weather, quick to mature, and bear more fruit per harvest than Arabica.
So while the caffeine content of your coffee may not be affected by the roasting process, it is affected by the origin of the beans themselves. Plus, besides differing levels of caffeine content, different varietal of bean that have very distinct flavor profiles. So depending on your personal tastes, you can choose to indulge in the nuanced varieties of Arabica beans, or you can brave the bitter strength of a Robusta.
However, if you are simply looking for great flavor and a stronger punch of caffeine in your next pick-me-up, why not try a simple a cuppa' Arabica instead of an espresso drink? It seems counter intuitive, but it will solve all your your morning caffeine dilemmas.