How Much Caffeine Is in Instant Coffee?

Coffee beans on burlap
Manufacturers spray-dry or freeze-dry coffee extract to create instant coffee. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

You need your morning cup of joe and sometimes, you need it fast. Instant coffee serves as a quicker alternative to freshly brewed coffee and all you need to prepare a cup is hot water to dissolve the caffeinated granules. In general, instant coffee contains less caffeine than brewed coffee.

How It's Made

Manufacturers use hot water to make a coffee extract from ground roasted coffee beans. Spraying the extract into hot air in a tall tank causes it to dry rapidly, according to the Coffee and Health website. The other common method involves freeze-drying coffee extract to make instant coffee. Spray-drying, also called air drying, results in instant coffee powder. In the freeze-drying process, cutting the coffee crystals results in granules. Manufacturers package instant coffee in jars or in sachets -- packets similar to tea bags portioned to make a cup or a pot of instant coffee.

Caffeine Content

Instant coffee, also called soluble coffee because it dissolves in water, contains an average of 93 milligrams of caffeine in a prepared 8-ounce serving, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The range of caffeine content in an 8-ounce cup of instant coffee is 27 to 173 milligrams. The same amount of regular brewed coffee contains an average of 133 milligrams of caffeine, with a range of 102 to 200 milligrams. The type of coffee beans and brewing methods affect the caffeine content in coffee.

What the Jolt Does to Your Body

Caffeine in instant coffee provides a stimulatory effect that may improve alertness and help you increase physical activity levels. For healthy adults, drinking coffee seems to be free of any serious health risks, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Drinking instant coffee, or coffee brewed with a paper filter, reduces intake of cafestol, a component of coffee that increases LDL cholesterol, according to Dr. Rob van Dam of the Harvard School of Public Health. High LDL cholesterol levels can contribute to heart disease.

Additional Coffee Benefits

Preliminary studies suggest that moderate coffee consumption -- 400 milligrams of caffeine per day -- is associated with lower rates of type 2 diabetes, according to a 2009 review published in "Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome." An 8-ounce serving of regular instant coffee contains nearly 7 milligrams of magnesium, and magnesium plays a role in blood sugar management. The magnesium content may be a factor in preventing insulin resistance, according to the 2009 review of research.

When to Cut Down

Caffeine crosses the placenta and reaches the fetus, which metabolizes it much more slowly than an adult. Pregnant women should limit caffeine to a low level, such as one cup a day, the Harvard School of Public Health advises. If you experience tremors, difficulty sleeping, increased tension or anxiety, decrease your intake of instant coffee and other sources of caffeine. Caffeine can affect medications. Consult your doctor about your caffeine intake.

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