When we think of caffeine, we often think of starting our day with a cup of coffee to give us the jolt we need to get going. Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the leaves and fruits of over 60 plants and is in drinks like coffee, tea, cola soft drinks and energy drinks and in foods like chocolate bars.
In the United States, more than 95 percent of adults consume foods and drinks containing caffeine each day. Caffeine stimulates the brain, central nervous system, heart rate and respiration. It can also alter mood, enhance alertness and focus, decrease tiredness and act as a mild diuretic. Caffeine is often used to treat migraines and tension headaches.
In its pure form, caffeine is a white crystalline powder with a bitter taste. Its chemical name is trimethylxanthine, and it is absorbed quickly in the gut about 45 minutes after it’s consumed. It dissolves in the body’s water and fat molecules and peaks in the blood anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours after consumption.
So how does caffeine in chocolate vs coffee compare? Will you find more or less caffeine in hot chocolate vs coffee? Keep reading to learn more about caffeine in coffee vs chocolate.
Where Does the Caffeine Come From?
When it comes to caffeine, coffee vs chocolate are two of the items from which we get our fix. But where does the caffeine come from?
Caffeine occurs naturally in over 60 plant species, of which coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts and cacao beans are the most well-known. Other natural sources of caffeine include the leaves of yerba mate, guarana berries, guayusa, the yaupon holly and the bark of Yoko. Caffeine is extracted from the plant to be used in foods and beverages. Since caffeine naturally occurs in coffee beans, it must be extracted to make decaf coffee.
Synthetic caffeine is indistinguishable from naturally occurring caffeine—both are chemically identical. Research on synthetic caffeine shows that both synthetic and natural caffeine have the same effects on the body. Synthetic caffeine is cheaper to produce and can be added to things like energy drinks.
Chocolate vs coffee chemical structure is similar but not exactly the same — the main active component of chocolate is theobromine, while the main active component in coffee is caffeine. Both theobromine and caffeine belong to the methylxanthine chemical family, but they differ by just one methyl group.
The health benefits of caffeine are extensive and affect numerous facets of our health. A 2017 meta-analysis found caffeine boosted alertness and enhanced performance in motor tasks. The same study also noted a positive link between caffeine intake and decreased incidence of neurological decline associated with aging. Furthermore, caffeine consumption in the form of coffee can reduce inflammation and may even lower the risk of several chronic diseases including diabetes and hypertension.
How Much Caffeine Is in Chocolate?
The amount of caffeine in chocolate depends on how much of the chocolate is made from cocoa solids. When cacao beans are processed, cocoa solids and cocoa butter are left behind. Caffeine is found naturally in cocoa solids, which is the part that remains after the cocoa butter has been pressed out of the processed cacao bean. The more cocoa solids that are in a chocolate bar, the higher the caffeine content. For comparison, see the different amounts of caffeine in various types of dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate below:
- A 3.5-ounce bar of 70 to 80 percent dark chocolate has about 70 milligrams of caffeine but can contain as much as 160 milligrams for dark chocolate with an even higher percentage of cocoa solids.
- A 3.5-ounce bar of 60 to 69 percent dark chocolate has 86 milligrams of caffeine.
- A 3.5-ounce bar of 45 to 59 percent dark chocolate has around 43 milligrams of caffeine.
- A 3.5-ounce bar of milk chocolate contains about 12 to 21 milligrams of caffeine.
- White chocolate is caffeine free because it does not contain cocoa solids, only cocoa butter.
How does the caffeine in dark chocolate vs coffee compare? A cup of coffee has about 60 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. To get the equivalent amount of dark chocolate caffeine vs coffee, you would need to eat an entire high percentage cacao dark chocolate bar with at least 70 to 80 percent cacao solids.
How Much Caffeine Is in Coffee?
Coffee is one of the most popular sources of caffeine available. The caffeine content can vary based on the type, the brewing method and the brand of the coffee. Let’s look at the different types of coffee and how much caffeine each one has.
- Brewed coffee. Also called filter coffee, brewed coffee involves brewing ground coffee beans in hot water. The average caffeine content of an 8-ounce brewed cup of coffee is about 95 milligrams.
- Espresso. This strong coffee beverage is made by forcing hot water or steam through very fine coffee grounds. Espresso serving sizes are usually much smaller than those of brewed coffee because of the high caffeine content. A single 1-ounce shot of espresso or espresso-based drink contains about 50 to 63 milligrams of caffeine.
- Decaf coffee. In spite of its name, decaffeinated coffee does contain some caffeine — about 2 to 3 milligrams for an 8-ounce cup.
- Cold brew. Cold brew coffee is made by steeping the coffee grounds in water at room temperature for 8 and 24 hours. A 12-ounce cup of cold brew coffee can contain between 153 to 238 milligrams of caffeine.
Besides the type of coffee, other things to keep in mind are the type of roast and how finely the coffee beans are ground. Darker roasts typically have lower caffeine levels than lighter roasts because the prolonged heat of heavier roasting breaks down the caffeine molecule. When looking at the coffee grind, keep in mind that the finer the grind, the higher the caffeine content.
Different varieties of coffee beans also have different amounts of caffeine. Arabica coffee beans make up about 70 percent of the coffee beans on the market and are a softer, sweeter coffee bean than Robusta coffee beans, which are used in many low-grade coffees and instant coffees and have almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica coffee beans:
- A single Arabica coffee bean contains an average of 1.9 milligrams of caffeine per 100 grams.
- A single Robusta coffee bean has about 2.9 milligrams of caffeine per 100 grams.
- An 8.5-ounce cup of Arabica brewed coffee contains 100 milligrams of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine in Coffee vs Chocolate?
When comparing hot chocolate vs coffee, which has more caffeine? An 8-ounce cup of hot chocolate has about 9 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has around 95 milligrams. Larger sizes, such as the “grande” size in many coffee shops, has between 200 and 300 milligrams.
When looking at the numbers side by side, the amount of caffeine in coffee vs hot chocolate shows a much greater amount in coffee. So hot chocolate vs coffee caffeine content is really no comparison at all — hot chocolate contains only a minimal amount of caffeine.
What about other types of chocolate? How much caffeine in coffee vs chocolate in general? Of the different types of chocolate, dark chocolate contains the most caffeine. Even so, you would have to eat an entire dark chocolate bar to receive the equivalent amount of caffeine that you find in a cup of coffee.
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake but still indulge in a chocolate treat, hot chocolate is the way to go as it has the lowest amount of caffeine of all.
Is Coffee or Chocolate the Better Choice?
Coffee drinkers vs tea drinkers and hot chocolate drinkers can all rejoice — their beverage of choice, whichever one it happens to be, is full of nutrients and health benefits.
Some differences in chocolate and coffee benefits include the following:
- Coffee has more vitamin B12 and fiber than chocolate.
- Coffee contains only 0.002 grams of saturated fat, which is 9260 times less than chocolate’s 18.52 grams.
- Chocolate has more copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc than coffee.
- Chocolate provides 114 percent of your daily copper intake.
Both coffee and chocolate contain polyphenols, which are beneficial for heart health and protect against ultraviolet rays. Drinking too much coffee, however, will cause dehydration and result in dull and wrinkled skin.
At Cococlectic, we sell high percentage dark chocolate bars that provide the indulgent pick-me-up you need. Each month at Cococlectic, we feature a different American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker who is passionate about producing their chocolate from scratch using only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter.
The chocolates sold at Cococlectic are vegan, non-GMO, fair trade and ethically sourced. They do not contain any soy, gluten, dairy or nut, but they may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients.
We sell only dark chocolate bars in our chocolate shop. Monthly subscription boxes, one-time gift boxes or corporate gift boxes containing your choice of dark bars only or mixed bars with inclusions of fruits and nuts are available with the purchase of the Office Box. Each chocolate box comes with 4 full-size dark chocolate bars that are made in the US.
Sign up for our chocolate-of-the-month subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month.