different types of coffee and foods caffeine levels

The surprising foods and drinks which contain caffeine

Lots of us rely on a caffeine boost to kick-start our morning routines, wake us up and give us that extra bit of oomph we need to get going every day.

More often than not, most of us tend to get these caffeine fixes by reaching out for a steaming cup (or two) of coffee or tea. On average in the UK, us Brits drink almost 123 million cups of tea and 90 million cups of coffee every single day!1

Other than tasting great – you may be a tea or a coffee lover or partial to enjoying both – these two drinks also have something else in common, they both contain caffeine. Even if they happened to be decaf…(more on this below).

Once consumed, caffeine stimulates our central nervous system. This means that by the time it’s reached our brain, we’re feeling more alert, i.e. more awake and less tired.2

Is caffeine good for you?

Good question… we may crave it, and be conscious about how much caffeine we consume, but is it something we should worry about? Can caffeine impact our health at all?

There’s lots of research out there on this topic. Moderate levels of tea and coffee are reportedly said to not damage our health. Studies also suggest that three to four cups of tea and coffee are deemed safe to drink, and even play a potentially beneficial role in fighting heart disease and diabetes. Meanwhile, other research says drinking one to two cups a day can help boost people’s memory.3 For more details about if caffeine is good for you, check out this article.

Does decaf coffee have caffeine in it?

If you want to reduce your caffeine intake or cut it out of your diet altogether, especially as it offers no nutritional value,4 but don’t want to totally deprive yourself of tea and coffee, then you may want to make the switch to decaf.

Being able to sip away on decaf drinks means you still get to enjoy your beloved tea and coffee (hoorah!) and reduce your caffeine levels at the same time.

But… (yes, there is a but) there is caffeine in decaf coffee. Granted, there’s less caffeine, but decaf coffee isn’t complete caffeine-free.

Virtually all types of decaf coffee contain caffeine

On average, an 8-ounce (236ml) cup of decaf coffee contains up to 7mg of caffeine. In comparison, a cup of regular coffee provides 70 to 140 mg.5 The same can be said for decaf tea too. By law, tea that’s been labelled as being decaffeinated should contain less than 2.5% of its original caffeine level, which usually equates to less than 2 mg per cup.6

We’re not sure about you, but this has got us thinking about caffeine on a much wider scale. In particular, other than tea and coffee – the two main go-to caffeine boosters we instinctively tend to reach out for – what other food and drink products contain caffeine? And how much caffeine do they contain?

Other food and drink that contains caffeine:


Food/drink item Caffeine level
Regular coffee (black) 95mg7
Espresso – 1 shot 63mg8
Instant coffee 63mg9
Latte or mocha 63 to 126mg10
Decaf coffee 2mg11
Energy drinks 91mg12
Green tea 28mg13
Sugar-free caffeinated soft drinks 41mg14
Kombucha 10 to 15mg15

Some surprising things that contain caffeine

  • Chocolate – this is because caffeine’s naturally found in cocoa beans, so most chocolate contains at least some of the energy-boosting compound. Rule of thumb – the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it’s likely to contain16

  • Ice cream and frozen yoghurt – who’d have thought it, hey, that caffeine can be found in ice and frozen yoghurt?! Most popular brands are said to contain up to 45mg of the stuff17

  • Breakfast cereals – we all know certain cereals can contain iron and sugar, but some can also contain caffeine too, especially the chocolate-flavoured varieties18

  • Desserts - (especially if they contain chocolate!)19

  • Hot cocoa – if you’ve ever found yourself wondering, ‘does hot chocolate have caffeine in it?’ Yes is does – usually between 0 to 2mg20
As for if there’s caffeine in peppermint tea, if it’s pure – i.e. made from nothing, but pure peppermint leaves, then it won’t contain any caffeine.21 So, if you like mint and are looking for a 100% caffeine free alternative, then peppermint tea may well be your ideal drink of choice going forward.

Are you feeling more clued up about caffeine now? If anything, we hope this article has helped open your eyes to the fact that caffeine isn’t just present in the usual suspects – tea and coffee – it can be found in plenty of other food and drink items too, even ice cream and breakfast cereals.

From boosting our energy levels and managing migraines22 to affecting how our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals, caffeine works in many wonderful ways. For more on the link between caffeine and mineral absorption levels, take a look at this article, ‘Does caffeine affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals?’

Last updated: 16 June 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.drugwise.org.uk/caffeine/
  2. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/spotlight-caffeine
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-decaf#what-it-is
  4. https://www.arborteas.com/tea-caffeine/#:~:text=Decaffeinated%20tea%20is%20NOT%20caffeine,than%202%20mg%20per%20cup.
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/does-hot-chocolate-have-caffeine#hot-chocolate-vs.-coffee
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/does-hot-chocolate-have-caffeine#hot-chocolate-vs.-coffee
  7. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-caffeine-foods-and-drinks.php
  8. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-caffeine-foods-and-drinks.php
  9. https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/sources-of-caffeine/
  10. https://greatist.com/health/does-kombucha-have-caffeine#caffeine-estimates
  11. https://www.sleep.org/articles/foods-with-caffeine/
  12. https://www.sleep.org/articles/foods-with-caffeine/
  13. https://www.sleep.org/articles/foods-with-caffeine/
  14. https://www.sleep.org/articles/foods-with-caffeine/
  15. https://www.thespruceeats.com/peppermint-tea-benefits-765056#:~:text=Caffeine%20Content%20in%20Peppermint%20Tea&text=Pure%20peppermint%20does%20not%20contain,tea%20contains%20about%2025%20milligrams.
  16. https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-effects-on-body#:~:text=Caffeine%20acts%20as%20a%20central,drowsiness%2C%20headaches%2C%20and%20migraines.

 

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