When I found out I was pregnant, there were only two questions I (initially*) needed answering: how do I survive without alcohol? And how much coffee can I now drink (if any at all)?
The answer to the first has been unceremoniously revealed to me over the past four months. I can survive without alcohol; being perpetually hangover-free has been great. It just fucking sucks to be the boring one.
The next question was not quite so easy to get answers to.
Why? BECAUSE NOWHERE ON THE INTERNET CAN GIVE ME A BLOODY STRAIGHT ANSWER.
Every search rendered a very broad ‘catch all’ caffeine count. But there are tonnnnes of different coffees on the market – all of which have wide-ranging amounts of caffeine.
Get this wrong when you’re pregnant (pregnant women are recommended no more than 200mg of caffeine per day) and putting your unborn baby at risk soon becomes a very real consequence.
So, it pays to know your caffeine. Take a look at your comprehensive coffee breakdown, below, if you’re like me and want to know how much caffeine you’re really consuming. (FYI – the below are all approximations based on the best of the internet’s knowledge.)
How much caffeine is in an instant or “freeze dried” coffee UK?
There is 100mg of caffeine in a standard instant coffee in the UK. This is according to recommended serving amounts which is 2 teaspoons per cup.
So, if you’re a two-and-a-half-teaspoons kind of person (which I used to be), a single cup will serve you 125mg of caffeine, so factor this in to your diet.
How much caffeine is in a filtered coffee UK?
There is around 140mg of caffeine in a standard filtered coffee in the UK.
The longer brewing time helps to infuse more caffeine into the water, so while your coffee might look pretty diluted, the final caffeine content certainly isn’t.
How much caffeine is in a pod coffee UK?
A single pod of coffee contains anywhere between 60 to 140mg of caffeine in the UK. Nespresso pods come in at around 65mg caffeine per cup, while Tassimo capsules have a staggering 135mg of caffeine.
Because of the widely fluctuating caffeine levels across manufacturers, it’s always best to check their website before purchasing. Alternatively, if you’ve already bought a load, stick to just one pod coffee a day to be sure you’re under the 200mg limit.
How much caffeine is in a bean to cup coffee UK?
Let’s start from the top. Single espressos are approx. 65mg per cup and double espressos are around 130mg per cup; black Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites are therefore around 130mg also, as they include a double espresso with water or milk usually.
Here’s where it gets complicated, especially when you’re heading to the high street for a fancy brew.
Different chains offer different beans of varying strengths. Generally, Robusta beans contain more caffeine than Arabica (instant coffee is usually Robusta-based too). Robusta beans are also much cheaper (and have a slightly bitter taste) so you’re more likely to find very strong Robusta coffees in your Greggs and greasy spoons.
The sweeter, more palatable Arabica bean is found in places like McDonald’s and Starbucks, so you are more likely to get a lower caffeine, better tasting coffee here.
Some chains use a blend of the two, such as Costa. Interestingly, Costa serves the highest amount of caffeine in their beverages in the UK. A 2018 study by the Times found the popular coffee chain’s flat whites had 277mg caffeine per cup and 92mg caffeine in espressos. So, if you’re hoping to stay under 200mg a day, perhaps go to Caffe Nero or Starbucks instead.
How much caffeine is in decaf coffee in the UK?
Stupid question? You’d think so. But due to the complicated process of extracting the caffeine from the beans, decaf coffee does , in fact, include traces of caffeine in every serving.
Thankfully, not too much. A typical decaf coffee in the UK has around 2mg of caffeine per cup. So, if you’re knocking back several decafs along with your full-caffeine brewed coffee, you may need to keep an eye on your intake.
*I now have 100s of questions about pregnancy, labour, and child-rearing beyond just ‘what can i eat and drink?’