Instant coffee is undeniably easy to make. Stir a spoonful of granules into a mug of hot water and you’ve got coffee — instantly! But how much caffeine is in that cup?
You may be surprised to learn that although it seems concentrated, there’s less caffeine in instant coffee! Keep reading to learn exactly how much — and how these coffee granules compare with drip coffee and espresso.
What’s the best coffee-to-water ratio for instant coffee?
The perfect instant coffee-to-water ratio depends on your tastes — whether you like your coffee strong or mild. A good ratio to start with is a rounded teaspoon of coffee to 7 ounces of water. That’s 3.4 teaspoons of instant coffee if you’re brewing a 12-ounce cup.
You can adjust this ratio if it’s too strong or weak. Just add a little more or less to the cup! Taste the coffee and see what you think.
How much caffeine is in instant coffee?
So how much caffeine is there in instant coffee, exactly? Time for a little math! According to the USDA, there are 28.3 milligrams of caffeine in every teaspoon (0.9 grams) of instant coffee. A rounded teaspoon (the usual serving size of instant coffee) is about double that, 2 teaspoons of instant coffee for every 7 ounces of water.
This means that if you’re brewing a 12-ounce cup of coffee, you’ll use about 3.4 teaspoons of instant coffee. That’s 96.22 milligrams of caffeine. The FDA recommends keeping your daily caffeine intake under 400 milligrams — so you can safely drink four cups of instant coffee a day.
RELATED: Not into math? Let our caffeine calculator do the work for you!
How does it compare to brewed coffee and espresso?
There is less caffeine in instant coffee than in regular brewed coffee or espresso. If you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, that may be a serious benefit! You can also cut out the caffeine entirely by opting for a decaffeinated instant coffee brand.
The exact caffeine level depends on the beans you use, but the average 12-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 136 milligrams of caffeine. A similarly-sized cup of instant coffee has 70% as much caffeine (96 milligrams). A shot of espresso (1 ounce) typically has 64 milligrams of caffeine. If you drink a 12-ounce latte with two shots of espresso, you’ll drink 128 milligrams of caffeine. That cup of instant coffee will have 25% less caffeine!
If we break it down by ounces, instant coffee has 7.9 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, compared to 11.3 milligrams in an ounce of brewed coffee and 64 milligrams in an ounce of espresso.
The takeaway? Per ounce, instant coffee has quite a bit less caffeine than either brewed coffee or espresso. A 12-ounce cup of instant coffee has the same amount of caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee, meaning that you can drink a lot more instant coffee before getting symptoms like jitters. And if you order a double shot latte instead of whipping up an instant coffee, you’ll drink about 1.3 times more caffeine.
If you’re looking for a lighter caffeine boost, instant coffee may be your new favorite drink. It may not provide as complex or rich of flavors as whole bean coffee or espresso, but it’s significantly easier to make and about 30% less caffeinated. There are 96 milligrams of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup of instant coffee — about a quarter of your safe daily limit. This could be a good reason to introduce instant coffee into your daily routine!