Caffeine in coffee is one of a few drugs found naturally in food. It's also found in tea, guarana, cocoa, kola nuts and yerba mate products.
Yes, it is a mild stimulant and it can be addictive if taken in large quantities everyday; but not in the amounts most coffee lovers take in. 3-4 cups will average 400 mg/day. Most experts agree that >600 mg/day is not considered harmful for most people.
It is possible to die from overdose, but it is very rare.
Some are more sensitive than others to its effects. Those who have GERDS (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) should either stay away from coffee or drink decaf. Others who are just more sensitive to caffeine and its effects, or pregnant, should keep their intake to ~200 mg/day by either drinking 1-2 cups of regular coffee per day, decaf or a mixture of decaf and regular.
Caffeine is also a natural insect repellent for coffee beans.
Side effects of caffeine intake (short-term)
Long-term effects of continual high caffeine intake
For those who want to know where they stand with their personal coffee/caffeine consumption information, there is an app for the iPad and iPhone. Plug in information about the coffee drunk each day and it will monitor caffeine intake and the amount of time it stays in your system. Of course it is general information, but yields an idea of how caffeine affects the body. At this writing it is available in a free version with advertisements or a $.99 version ad-free.
It readily dissolves in boiling water or in chlorogenic acid at room temperature.
There is a misconception about bitterness in coffee. Coffee is a very complex drink in that it has over 400 chemical compounds and the number goes up with the chemical reactions of the roasting process. The bitter elements are needed in order to balance the sweet, sour and salty tastes without overpowering.
The amount of caffeine in green coffee beans varies. On top of that roasting and brewing affect the amount of caffeine in the final cup as well. Getting the same cup of coffee everyday from the same coffee shop will have varying amounts of caffeine so take all of the information you see on caffeine content as general numbers. Coffee comes from two species of plants, Coffea arabica (called Arabica) and Coffea canephora var. robusta (called Robusta). As can be seen in the table below, robusta has roughly twice the amount of caffeine as arabica.
|mg/cup (6 oz)||70-150||120-310|
Decaffeination is accomplished today usually by water, chemical or CO2. The extracted caffeine is then sold for use in pharmaceuticals, soft drinks and energy drinks. As seen in the table below, energy drinks are on the high side of caffeine in coffee or higher.
|Coffee (8 oz)||95-200||12-25|
|Decaf Regular (8 oz)||2-12||<1-1.5||Espresso (1 oz)||40-75||40-75|
|Decaf Espresso (1 oz)||0-12||0-12|
|Generic Instant (8 oz)||27-173||3.4-21.5|
|Decaf Instant (12)||2-12||<1-1.5|
|McDonalds Brewed (16 oz)||100||6.25|
|Starbucks Pike Place (16 oz)||330||20.6|
|Pike Place Decaf (16 0z)||25||1.6|
|Starbucks Latte (16 oz)||150||9.4|
|Black Tea (8 oz)||40-120||5-15|
|Black Tea Decaf (8 oz)||2-10||<1-1.3|
|Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Latte (16 oz)||100||6.3|
|Stash Premium Green Tea (6 oz)||26||4.4|
|Arizona Green Tea (16 oz)||15||<1|
|Nestea Iced Tea (12 oz)||26||2.2|
|Snapple Plain Unsweetened (16 oz)||18||1.1|
|7UP (12 oz)||0|
|Barqs Root Beer (12 oz)||23|
|Pepsi (12 oz)||36-38|
|Coca Cola, Classic (12 oz)||35|
|Mountain Dew (12 oz)||54|
|Red Bull (8.3 oz)||76|
|Monster Energy (16 oz)||160|
|Full Throttle (16 0z)||144|
|No Fear (8 oz)||83|
Reference Tables: Mayo Clinic
Note: With canned or bottled beverages, the caffeine content is easily measured since it is added by recipe. It is hard to actually compare caffeine in coffee and tea because it is a natural chemical the amount will differ with:
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