Caffeine has gained a lot of attention over the last couple decades, leading to more informed consumers. The reasons for the attention stem from concerns about cancer, anxiety, headaches and jittery stomachs. The amount of caffeine varies significantly between beverages and brands. You know there is caffeine in coffee but you also should know how much caffeine is in hot chocolate and how that compares to caffeinated coffee.
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The Mayo Clinic's comparison of caffeine content in coffee brands reveals a broad range for home-brewed coffee of 95 to 200 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup, and 150 milligrams for a 16-ounce cup of vanilla latte from Starbucks. The variation in caffeine content for home-brewed coffee is heavily dependent on several variables such as how long the coffee brewed, the ratio of water to ground beans and the intensity of roast.
Hot chocolate mix also contains caffeine, but only in trace amounts at about 5 milligrams per envelope. One envelope of hot chocolate mix is equal to 3 tablespoons of powdered mix, and translates to a 6-ounce cup of hot chocolate. Public health officials from Australia report hot chocolate caffeine content can range from 10 to 70 milligrams per cup. Clearly there is variation in the caffeine content of hot chocolate as well as with coffee.
Decaffeinated coffee does contain caffeine. A cup of decaffeinated coffee contains between 2 and 12 milligrams of caffeine. Hershey's claims their decaffeinated hot chocolate is 99.9 percent caffeine free. Most coffee brands, including Folgers, Maxwell House and Starbucks, manufacture "half caff" coffee. "Half caff" is produced by mixing 50 percent regular ground coffee and 50 percent decaffeinated coffee. That means the name is a bit of a misnomer since decaffeinated coffee contains up to 12 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
Consider the significance of caffeine in relation to your health circumstances, medications and other factors. The March of Dimes says it's safe for pregnant women to consume as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine, but higher doses of caffeine have been linked to premature birth and miscarriage. Research reported in the journal "Clinical Pharmacokinetics" indicates caffeine has potential to interact poorly with many classes of medications including anti-psychotics, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, anti-arrhythmics and more.
The significance in the difference of caffeine content between coffee and hot chocolate is clear. Coffee can have as much as 40 times as much caffeine as hot chocolate. On average you can expect that your hot chocolate will have about one-fifth the caffeine content than that cup of coffee you might be considering. If you are pregnant or are taking certain medications you would be well advised to keep your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams or less daily. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist about your caffeine concerns.
- MayoClinic.com: Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More
- March of Dimes: Caffeine in Pregnancy
- New South Wales, Australia, Health: Caffeine Factsheet
- "Clinical Pharmacokinetics": Clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions between dietary caffeine and medications; JA Carillo, J Benitez; 2000
- Shop Decaf Chocolate: Home page