What’s The Deal With Caffeine In Cappuccino Coffee? Read Our No-Nonsense Basic Facts

by | Mar 30, 2020

Cappuccino: roll the word around your mouth. It even sounds a little like the drink: frothy, milky, delicious, indulgent (especially when a little helping of chocolate sprinkles is added to the top). And if you’re trying to watch your caffeine intake, you might think it offers a lower-caffeine option than many other coffees.

Is that strictly true, however? Just because some varieties taste more like milk than coffee, how accurate is that impression? And are all cappuccinos even the same, anyway?

What Is A Cappuccino?

What makes a cappuccino is the foam to milk ratio as well as the ratio of milk to coffee. This is where personal taste and the skill of the barista come into play. Some coffee producers suggest that there should be 1-part espresso to 3 parts milk, or even 4, with the remainder made up with foam.

A cappuccino is traditionally made with a shot of espresso, added to a 5-ounce cup, which is topped up with foamed milk. Hot milk and steamed milk foam are added, and the drink is prepared in an espresso machine capable of producing steam. The foam is created as part of the heating process rather than being added afterward.

The foam layer should be around an inch thick, and while we like a little cocoa on top, we’re also ever so slightly partial to a touch of cinnamon now and then. We’ve even heard it rumored that cinnamon has one or two health benefits of its own.


Taste, Texture And Time Travel

One of the key features of a good cappuccino is its texture. The drink should be smooth, with an almost velvety taste. Milk varieties with higher fat content give a richer texture.

To find out more about cappuccino, let’s take a little trip back in time. Like so many of the coffee drinks we enjoy today, it originated in Italy. What you might not know, however, is that the Kapuziner from which it derives first made an appearance in the Viennese coffee shops of the 1700s.

Cream and sugar, spices and sugar, or cream were all added to the drink. The Kapuziner refers to the resultant color of the coffee, which was the same shade as the habits worn by Capuchin monks.

When espresso machines became much more widely available in the 1950s, following the two World Wars, cappuccino became much better-known. By the 1980s, cappuccino could be found on the menu of many coffee shops around the world.


Does Cappuccino Have Caffeine In It?

Even if the base is decaffeinated coffee, everyone’s favorite cup of coffee froth still has caffeine in it. In case you’re wondering, cappuccinos made with decaf coffee have about 3% of the caffeine content you’d have if standard coffee is used.

The cappuccino drink we know it today appeared in Italy in the 1930s, initially made with whipped cream. Like many of the coffee variants we know and love, the base for a cappuccino is an espresso.


How Much Caffeine Is In A Cappuccino, Anyway?

To work out how much caffeine is in a cappuccino, you need to take into account how much caffeine there is in the espresso shot that forms the base. A typical 1 ounce shot of coffee will have around 120 mg of caffeine – some of the stronger varieties might even be as high as 170mg.


Cappuccino vs Coffee Caffeine

What’s the lowdown on cappuccino vs coffee caffeine content, anyway? Well, if you’re wondering how much caffeine there is in a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee, it’s about 80 to 100 mg.


Cappuccino Coffee Content – The Bigger Picture

While many of us might think espresso refers to a type of coffee, in fact, the term refers to the extraction process. Espresso literally means expressed. The flavor of your cappuccino will depend on the beans used, and the flavor profile, as well as the type of milk you’re using.

There are 2 varieties of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans usually produce a milder drink, with Robusta beans giving a stronger profile. You might also detect a hint of citrus, or chocolate, or berries like cherry or pomegranate. Arabica beans are often lower in caffeine content than Robusta, although it also depends on the roasting methods used.

Of course, all this presumes that you’re enjoying a cappuccino made with a single shot of espresso. If you’re enjoying a drink with a double or triple shot of espresso, then the amount of caffeine you’re ingesting increases.

It also presumes that you’re enjoying a cappuccino made from scratch, rather than one of the oh-so-convenient packet mixes you can slip into your purse or messenger bag. (The packets are generally low in caffeine.)


Cappuccino Vs Coffee: Caffeine Content

You might also be wondering what the difference in caffeine content is when it comes to a coffee vs a cappuccino. And it’s not as clear cut as it might seem on the surface. A typical serving of coffee contains anywhere from 6 fluid ounces to 12 ounces, whereas a cappuccino usually contains just a single shot of espresso.

A cup of espresso coffee might be more intense than a cup of, say, Americano when it comes to flavor. The caffeine content is, however, often lower than a typical coffee.

It also all depends on the caffeine content of the beans. The way that coffee is roasted affects this too: although contrary to how it might seem, medium roasts can often be higher in caffeine than darker roasts.


What About Caffeine In Instant Cappuccino?

When we’re thinking about just much caffeine is in cappuccino, you might be wondering about those convenient little sticks of instant cappuccino you can slip into your purse or rucksack. While they’re called cappuccino, they’re not quite cappuccino as we know it.

They’re mainly sugar and powdered milk, and the combination of the two is what causes the froth when you add boiling water. In terms of caffeine content, they usually contain around 64 mg.

does cappuccino have caffeine in it


Calorie Counting For Cappuccino Drinkers

We’ve looked at the caffeine content of cappuccinos, but what about calories? While black coffee without anything added is extremely low in calories, the picture is rather different for cappuccino coffees.

This is largely due to what you add – 2 fluid ounces of whole milk add around 38 calories, the same amount of cream adds about 120 calories, and each teaspoon of sugar adds about 16 calories.

The type of milk used will add calories, as will any sweeteners or powdered chocolate you have added. Typical cappuccino drinks have between 65 and 130 calories, and it can even vary between coffee shop chains and countries.


Caffeine In Cappuccino: The Verdict

So is there caffeine in cappuccino, then? The straightforward answer, if you’re using caffeinated beans, is yes, there’s caffeine in a cappuccino. (And even if you’re using decaf coffee, there’s still a touch of coffee in there.)

Since the base is an espresso, you’re ingesting the same amount of caffeine as you would in a coffee shot. If you up that to a double cappuccino or a double shot cappuccino, you’re ingesting twice the amount.

Don’t be deceived by all that frivolous foam and froth, then. You’re still taking in caffeine. How much, depends on the type of bean, the roast of the coffee you’re using, how large the shot is, and whether the original coffee base is decaf or caffeinated.

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