How Much Caffeine is in 2 Shots of Espresso?

So you’re thinking about getting an extra shot of espresso in your cappuccino or latte. It is understandable. On some days, we need more help waking up. But is it healthy? The healthiness of caffeine consumption is debatable, but there’s a consensus that one can end up having too much caffeine.

2 shots of espresso contain 180 mg of caffeine, which is almost half the daily limit for adult consumption. One should not get double-shot coffee if one consumes more than two cups in a day. Adults do not overdose on caffeine by having 2 shots of espresso.

However, there are people for whom such caffeine intake can be dangerous. In this short post, we will go over why we feel comfortable with 2 shots of espresso and why we encourage avoiding such coffee consumption. By the end, you too will feel well-informed and secure in ordering a double shot.

Are Two Shots of Espresso Dangerous?

The greatest indicator of something’s riskiness is the lack of corporate adoption. Big coffee shop chains like Starbucks have too much to lose by engaging in anything that poses a health risk. Since Starbucks offers the option to add two shots of espresso to any coffee beverage, it can be assumed that consuming a double shot doesn’t entail as much risk.

That said, you’re responsible for taking appropriate measures to preserve your own health. Just like consuming 15 quarter-pounders can lead you to an emergency ward, overdosing on coffee can do the same. The difference, however, is that it takes more effort to overdose on junk food. With coffee, it is easier since caffeine is consumed as a liquid. Double-shots are dangerous in the sense that they’re easy to lose track of.

Two shots, once a day, are not dangerous for most people but having them in a single beverage raises the risk of overconsumption. Having 2 to 3 servings of cappuccino or latte with a double shot of espresso guarantees a caffeine overdose. But even when you drink coffee in moderation, two shots of espresso might be too much, provided that you’re sensitive to caffeine.

How Much Caffeine In Espresso Shots At Different Coffee Outlets

Two espresso shots at Starbucks contain about 150mg of caffeine, and the content varies based on the serving size. Double espresso shots from other brands like Caribou, Costa, Dunkin’, and McDonald’s contain 97-250mg of caffeine.

Starbucks offers espresso in four sizes – solo, doppio, triple, and quad. Likewise, it also supplies decaf and blonde espresso shots.

Most people take decaf espresso at Starbucks assuming it is free from caffeine. The truth is that a shot of decaf espresso contains about 15-18 milligrams for every serving. In several outlets, espresso is served in single and double shots.

BrandCaffeine (in mg)
Caribou Espresso (Medium)270
Costa Double Shot Espresso 185
Dunkin’ Double Shot Espresso97
McCafe Double Shot Espresso142
Seattle’s Best Double Shot Espresso150

Caffeine Content In Espresso-Based Drinks

Decaf coffee records the lowest caffeine content among various espresso-based drinks, while Caffe Mocha records the highest of 175mg. If you prefer medium caffeine content, go for ristretto, and you won’t regret it.

If you’d like to review caffeine content differences in various espresso-based drinks, you should use the table below.

Espresso-based DrinkCaffeine Content (in mg)
Red Eye165
Piccolo Latte68
Flat White128
Con Panna63

Who Should Avoid Two Shots of Espresso?

As mentioned above, most people don’t have to worry about taking a double shot, even in the same drink. If the espresso shots are spaced 4 to 6 hours apart, the risk of caffeine overdose is further lowered. But for people who fit one of the following descriptors, a double shot can spell trouble.

Pregnant mothers

Caffeine can be dangerous if you’re pregnant. Expecting mothers should avoid coffee and switch to low-caffeine beverages like an English breakfast tea. Two shots of espresso can be detrimental to the expecting mother’s health, especially during the final trimester.

People with Arrhythmias

This condition leads to irregular heartbeat, and two shots of espresso can contribute to the irregularity. An individual with arrhythmias can experience heart palpitations after getting a double dose of caffeine.

Children and teenagers 

While children should be kept away from coffee of any intensity, teenagers should avoid two shots of espresso. Caffeine dependence during teenage years can escalate into addiction and lead to higher consumption. A teenager raising his intake from one shot to two shots is safer than the one raising the bar from a double shot.

People with epilepsy 

Caffeine is a stimulant which means that it can trigger certain responses like seizures. However, there’s no guarantee that epileptic individuals will have seizures upon drinking coffee. Exercising your own induction is essential here. If you’re epileptic and feel on edge upon consuming coffee, you might not want to take a double shot in your daily cup.

The Safe Caffeine Range: How much caffeine can you have?

Caffeine isn’t a medicine or a vitamin, which is why there is no recommended dosage for it. All we can look at when assessing how much coffee we should have is the safety limit of caffeine. It is advisable to start with only as much caffeine as you need. Ideally, this would be one cup of brewed coffee that makes up for one-fourth of the safe maximum consumption limit. Over time, you’ll have higher caffeine tolerance and might need more.

You can have 400 milligrams of caffeine as an adult, but this limit changes based on your weight, caffeine tolerance, and sensitivity to the substance. 3 shots of espresso are within this limit but consecutively having them isn’t advisable.

Your body’s caffeine receptors can get overloaded when you have too much espresso at once. This leaves you in a bad position from two angles: you do not get the most alertness per unit of caffeine, and you end up coming closer to your maximum caffeine allowance. The reason some people opt for a double shot is to feel like they’re doing something extra to wake up on days where they feel like they should be doing more.

Here, the double shot works as nothing but a placebo. If you got only 2 hours of sleep the previous night, you feel like you shouldn’t be able to just get up and go on as usual. In such a context, you push yourself to consume more coffee even though you don’t need it. When you’re running on little sleep, try drinking cold water and then wait five minutes before you have your first cup.

Some people opt for a double shot because they don’t feel awake right after finishing their first cup. If you’re one of them, you need to try the following method: have one shot of espresso in your coffee and take 15 minutes to finish the cup. 

Wait one hour after finishing your beverage to assess whether you need another shot. To learn more about the rationale behind this, go through my article on how caffeine kicks in at three different times after consuming coffee.

Final Thoughts

You can take 4 shots of espresso in a day without overdosing on caffeine if you’re a healthy adult. Still, you shouldn’t burn through your caffeine limit by having the shots at once. Espresso has diminishing returns, which is why it should be spaced 4 hours apart for optimal assisted alertness.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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