How Much Caffeine Is in a Shot of Espresso?

Does espresso pack a bigger punch per sip than its plain coffee cousin?

<p>Adam Smigielski/Getty Images</p>

Adam Smigielski/Getty Images

Espresso has been in its heyday, serving as the basis for a whole lot of fancy coffee concoctions. It's the star of the ever-popular espresso martini, and of course, is perfectly suited to sipping for a quick pick-me-up.

But exactly how much caffeine is in that shot of espresso—and how many shots of espresso are in your coffeehouse favorites? You may be surprised at what kind of a punch that little sip of espresso can pack.

What Is Espresso, Exactly?

Espresso is basically a highly concentrated one-ounce "shot" of coffee, produced by brewing finely ground coffee at a high pressure. You use the same types of beans you would use for a standard cup of coffee in this brewing process, just ground finer and put under pressure.

One of the signature elements of espresso is the "crema," the creamy layer that sits atop the espresso drink.

You can have a little shot of espresso on its own as a pick-me-up, but it's also used as a base for a lot of coffee drinks, like lattes and cappuccinos, where one or multiple shots of espresso give the drink a stronger coffee flavor than you would manage with an equal amount of regular brewed coffee.

How Much Caffeine Is in Espresso?

An average one-ounce espresso shot has 63 milligrams of caffeine, according to the USDA. But there are some coffee companies that produce a more potent shot of espresso. For instance, a Starbucks espresso shot has 75 milligrams of caffeine—and depending on what coffee drink and size you order, your drink might have multiple shots of espresso in it. (Some venti iced drinks feature three shots of espresso in them!)

Related: The 7 Best Espresso Machines for Coffeehouse-Quality Drinks at Home

How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Coffee vs. a Shot of Espresso?

Ounce for ounce, you'll get more caffeine bang for your buck in an espresso. Eight ounces of coffee have 95 milligrams of caffeine—which means each ounce of your standard cup of joe features only 12 milligrams of caffeine vs. the 63 in a shot of espresso.

Related: How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Coffee? Here's What You Need to Know

Keep in mind that even a cup of decaffeinated coffee still has a touch of caffeine, but it's still much lower than the amount in espresso. There are 2 milligrams of caffeine in an entire cup of decaf coffee, vs. 63 milligrams in a shot of espresso.

How Much Caffeine Should You Have?

The FDA generally recommends the average person consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. So for most people, a shot or two of espresso should be within your daily limits—unless you're chasing it with multiple cups of green tea (30 to 50 milligrams per cup), Diet Coke (46 milligrams per 12-ounce can), or a lot of chocolate (12 milligrams per ounce of dark chocolate). Keep in mind that each person has a different sensitivity to caffeine, so your personal limit may be less.

Related: Caffeine Is Actually Good for You, in Moderation—Here's How to Know if You're Having Too Much

That means you can have a little more than six shots of regular espresso—or five shots of Starbucks espresso—before you hit your limit.

If you are pregnant, your recommended caffeine limits are lower. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should keep your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day or less—which means you'll only be able to enjoy about three shots of an average espresso before you hit that limit.

How to Enjoy Espresso (Besides in a Cup)

Espresso is lovely on its own, or part of a latte or other fancy coffee drink. You might want to try it in an espresso slushy. (If you don't have an espresso machine at home, you can use extra-strong brewed coffee in its place for many coffee drinks, or rehydrated espresso powder, which is essentially brewed espresso that has been dehydrated and ground into granules.)

Related: 6 Buzz-Worthy Coffee Cocktails That Are Simple to Make

Espresso has also become an important ingredient in some clever coffee cocktails, such as the popular espresso martini.

But brewed espresso or granules of espresso powder have also been a popular addition to many baked goods recipes—or even rubs for meat. If you'd rather eat your caffeine, opt for a batch of chocolate espresso truffles, use espresso powder for salty coffee toffee bars, or add a little espresso to your brownie batter to give your treats a more sophisticated coffee flavor.

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