I have one of those spiffy single-serve coffee makers. It is the handiest thing since sliced bread (and, yes, I do remember before it was sliced) because it means I no longer feel obligated to drink reheated coffee. I can just have a new cup on demand. My question is whether there could possibly be a difference in the amount of caffeine, depending on the brand. I have recently found one that seems to give me more "get up and go" than others. This is an especially important fact in that I frequently manage to keep going in the afternoons if I have this particular coffee. Should I contact these various companies for the answer or can you in your infinite wisdom help me out?
— Nancy F., Central Point
Hmmm. So you drink a cup of one brand of coffee and it sets you buzzing along for the entire day. Meanwhile, other sorts don't. And you want to know if there could be a caffeine difference?
Well, Nancy, since you seem disinclined to go with your very own anecdotal evidence, we at the Since You Asked School of Full-of-Beanery loaded up on caffeine and went hunting for clues.
We found that, yes, indeed, there are wide ranges in caffeine contained in different types/brands of coffee, according to the experts at the International Coffee Organization.
The caffeine variables depend on the coffee's origin or the composition of the blend, the method of brewing and the strength of the brew.
Generally speaking, robusta coffees — which have their origins in central and western sub-Saharan Africa — have about twice as much caffeine as arabicas, which come primarily from Yemen. But coffee aficionados usually prefer arabica coffees because of their smoother taste.
Given a similar brewing method, i.e., using a single-serve cup, the caffeine difference will largely be determined by the brand you choose. And there are differences. For instance, we found on the website Energy Fiend, that while an 8-ounce Starbucks coffee has 180 mg. of caffeine, the same size Dunkin' Donuts coffee comes in at 105 mg. An 8-ounce K-Cup from Keurig comes in at 120 mg.
Then, there's Death Wish coffee, which clocks in at 542 mg. and is said to be the world's strongest coffee. You can check out the caffeine levels of your favorite coffees at energyfiend.com (scroll down on the home page to the "Caffeine in drinks" link.)
When considering your options, remember caffeine consumption has been classified as follows: Low caffeine users consume less than 200 mg. per day. Moderate caffeine users consume between 200 and 400 mg. per day. And high caffeine users are guzzling more than 400 mg. per day. That makes us jittery just to read.
So, check out energyfiend.com to get a read on what you're drinking. But we suggest you also reread your own question — you may find your answer there.
Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.