What is the caffeine content of an Italian espresso?

The Italian espresso is recognised for its rich aroma and flavour, and for many Italians - the Moka pot is a kitchen staple. If you are looking to expand your knowledge in Italian coffee, you may be curious about the intensity of Italian espresso and what factors can impact its caffeine content.

How is Italian espresso defined, and how much caffeine does it contain?

Brewed under high pressure, Italian espresso is characterised by its concentrated flavour, velvety texture, and the iconic crema that sits on top of the coffee. The preparation method not only enhances the coffee's flavour profile but also affects its caffeine content.

Caffeine is known for its ability to enhance alertness and focus. The content of caffeine in an espresso can vary due to several factors, including the type of coffee bean, the roast, and the brewing method. Typically, a single shot of Italian espresso (approximately 1 ounce or 30 milliliters) contains about 63 milligrams of caffeine. However, this number is not absolute and can range from 50 to 75 milligrams, reflecting the diversity in preparation styles and bean varieties.

Read our guide What is Italian espresso? to find out more.

What factors impact the intensity of espresso?

Each type of coffee bean has unique taste characteristics, and testers or baristas often use the term “intensity” to describe them. The intensity of a coffee depends on the body consistency and aromatic richness of the drink.

The type of bean and the way in which the bean is roasted also plays a part in how an espresso tastes. A dark roast coffee is roasted to a higher temperature than other roasts, giving it a richer and more intense flavour. Arabica or Robusta blends are probably the best-known base for espresso. Arabica has sweeter and softer tones, whereas Robusta is often described as being more intense.

Cup of coffee with croissants on the table

Factors influencing caffeine levels in Italian espresso

Bean variety

Arabica beans, known for their smooth flavour and aromatic complexity, generally contain less caffeine compared to the more robust and intense Robusta beans. Italian espresso blends often favour Arabica for its quality, though blends incorporating Robusta are not uncommon, adding a punch of caffeine and a fuller body to the espresso. For example – our Napoli espresso also contains a kick of Robusta.

The roasting process

The roasting process plays a pivotal role in defining the espresso's character, including its caffeine content. A common misconception is that darker roasts contain more caffeine. In reality, light roasts have slightly more caffeine by weight, as the roasting process reduces the bean's mass but does not significantly affect the caffeine content. However, because darker roasts are denser, if you measure your coffee by scoops instead of weight, a dark roast espresso might have slightly less caffeine.

Enjoy a dark, exotic roast with Carluccio’s espresso di Napoli

Our Napoli espresso coffee has been blended and roasted in the traditional style of the master roasters of Naples, which is the darkest roast in all Italy using Arabica beans with a little kick of Robusta. This blend is rich, lively and well-rounded, presenting dark cocoa, smoky flavours and blackberry notes.

Our Napoli espresso beans can also be ground finely for use in an espresso machine. When ground coarse for use in a cafetiere, it can present flavours of cinnamon and cherry.

 Napoli espresso coffee.

Shop our Napoli espresso coffee.

The brewing technique

Espresso machines force hot water through finely ground coffee at high pressure, a method that extracts intense flavour and caffeine in a short amount of time. This process, typically lasting 25 to 30 seconds, ensures a concentrated dose of caffeine in a small volume, distinguishing espresso from other coffee preparations in both taste and stimulant effect.

Read our guide What is Italian espresso? to find out more.

Enjoy authentic Italian espresso coffee from Carluccio’s

At Carluccio’s, we offer an authentic Italian experience with all our coffees. From the moment Antonio Carluccio opened his first Italian food shop in Neal Street, we’ve been on a mission to share the true taste of Italy with everyone.

Why Carluccio’s?

Choosing Carluccio's for your Italian coffee experience is a journey into the heart of Italy’s rich coffee culture. We champion quality, ensuring every cup embodies the authenticity and vibrancy of Italy itself. The roasters of Carluccio’s blends roast each type of bean separately in the traditional “drum” roasters, which spin the beans constantly while surrounding them with hot air. A longer roasting time at lower temperatures avoids any burnt taste and recreates the results of the constant, careful stirring given to the pan-roasted coffee beans.

Our diverse range of coffee beans means you can choose between various flavours depending on the region you want to explore. For example, our Milani espresso coffee is refined and smooth – a perfect option if you are looking for a sweeter blend. Our Napoli espresso coffee, on the other hand, provides a dark, rich and lively blend. The Roma espresso coffee provides a creamy and full-bodied blend, with flavours of walnut, dark caramel and spice.

At Carluccio's, we're committed to delivering a memorable experience that celebrates the freshness, quality, and taste that Italian coffee is renowned for.

Our coffee beans are roasted in Italy, bringing the authentic Italian bar experience to your table. Choose between our sweet and refined Milano blend, our rich and lively Napoli blend, or our intense, creamy and full-bodied Roma blend.

Shop our full range of coffee and hot drinks here.

Frequently asked questions

How does the size of the espresso shot affect its caffeine content?

Italian espresso is traditionally served in single (solo) or double (doppio) shots. A double shot, while containing more coffee, also provides roughly double the caffeine, averaging between 125 to 150 milligrams.

Can decaffeinated espresso still have caffeine?

Yes, decaffeinated coffee still contains small amounts of caffeine, typically 1 to 5 milligrams per shot, depending on the decaffeination process and the coffee's origin.

Are there variations of Italian espresso with different caffeine levels?

Yes, there are variations of Italian espresso that have different levels of caffeine. For example, a ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso that uses less water, resulting in a stronger flavour and potentially higher caffeine content. A lungo, on the other hand, is brewed with more water, resulting in a milder taste and potentially lower caffeine content.

What is the cultural significance of Italian espresso?

Beyond its caffeine content, Italian espresso embodies a culture of leisure, connection, and appreciation for the finer things in life. Enjoying an espresso is as much about the experience—the conversation shared over a tiny cup, the ritual of preparation—as it is about the beverage itself.

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