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How Much Coffee is Too Much? Facts & Signs of Caffeine Overdose

death by coffee caffeine overdose

Most of us discovered as children that you can have too much of a good thing. Overloading candy and ice cream might seem like a good idea, but the stomach ache that comes later suggests otherwise. Sadly, coffee falls into this category, too. It is possible to have too much — but how much coffee is too much?

Here’s what you need to know about drinking too much coffee and how to avoid the worst symptoms. We all love our morning (and afternoon, and even midnight) cups of coffee, but we don’t love feeling jittery or anxious. That’s why it is a good idea to understand the limits!

The Short Answer
The experts recommend limiting yourself to three to five cups of coffee or 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. But you know your body best — and you may max out on coffee after fewer cups. Look out for unpleasant symptoms of having overdone it, but don’t forget to enjoy your coffee, too!

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What’s the official guidance on too much coffee?

According to the experts over at the FDA, you probably want to limit your daily caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams or less. That’s from all sources of caffeine, not just coffee, so if you’re also snacking on chocolate-covered espresso beans and throwing back energy drinks, that’ll affect how much coffee you can drink.

Does espresso or coffee have more caffeine?
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

But how much coffee is 400 milligrams? The average 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 95 milligrams of caffeine, and a shot of espresso typically has 64 milligrams. That means you can drink four cups of coffee or six shots of espresso in one day without maxing out your caffeine intake.

How many cups of coffee is too much?

Studies have shown that coffee offers all kinds of health benefits, including protection from Alzheimer’s, some types of cancer, and depression. It’s also good for your heart — as long as you don’t overdo it. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking six or more cups of coffee in a day may increase your risk of heart disease by 22%.

lots of coffee cups
Image: Unsplash

That’s why most researchers recommend drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. That is the sweet spot — where you get health benefits like increased focus, improved mood, and 10 to 15% lower mortality overall but don’t risk jitters, heart disease, or caffeine withdrawal.

So how much coffee is too much? Going beyond five cups of coffee (or six espresso shots) will probably be too much.

How can you tell if you’ve had too much coffee?

how to recover From stomach problems from too much caffeine

The most common symptoms of drinking too much coffee are jitters, anxiety, digestive issues, and elevated heart rate. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine, so you might hit that point before you’ve had five cups of coffee. And if you’re drinking extra-strong coffee like Death Wish, well, the name says it all! Why not start with one cup and see where that gets you?

As always, we recommend talking to your doctor if you’re concerned about your health.

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Final Thoughts

We hope these general guidelines help you determine how much coffee is too much for you. Many people do well drinking three to five cups of coffee a day. Try not to go over 400 milligrams of caffeine, and watch out for symptoms like jitters or digestive problems. You can always switch to a surprisingly tasty decaf for an afternoon treat!


Featured image credit: beerblur, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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