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How Much Coffee a Day Is Too Much?

Just How Much Coffee Is Too Much?

There are many benefits to drinking coffee every day — from disease-fighting antioxidants to improved memory and longevity — but when it comes to your caffeine habit, there really can be too much of a good thing.

Just how much caffeine is too much? For the average person, up to 300 mg of coffee a day, or two to four cups of the average brewed coffee, is a moderate amount that isn't harmful. But once you hit more than four cups, you may experience less-than-desirable side effects. Drinking more than 500 mg every day, in fact, can induce anxiety, insomnia, and muscle tremors and can even lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, headaches, or digestion issues.

If you want to stay away from the caffeine jitters, then limiting yourself to under four cups of coffee per day is a perfectly reasonable plan. However, you may be surprised by how much caffeine is in your favorite caffeinated beverage; it can be much more than you think!
See how much caffeine is in your favorite drink.

Drink Amount of caffeine
Average 8-ounce cup of coffee 95 mg
8-ounce Short Starbucks coffee 180 mg
12-ounce Tall Starbucks coffee 260 mg
16-ounce Grande Starbucks coffee 330 mg
20-ounce Venti Starbucks coffee 415 mg
10-ounce small Dunkin' Donuts coffee 105 mg
14-ounce medium Dunkin' Donuts coffee 178 mg
20-ounce large Dunkin' Donuts coffee with Turbo Shot 436 mg
16-ounce large McDonald's coffee 133 mg
Average 1-ounce espresso shot 64 mg
1-ounce Starbucks espresso shot 75 mg
Average teaspoon of instant coffee 31 mg
Average 8-ounce cup of black tea 26 mg
Average 6-ounce cup of green tea 20-30 mg

Use this chart as a guide to see how much caffeine you're really consuming every day. Even if you enjoy two eight-ounce cups at Starbucks, for example, that's 360 mg of caffeine — 60 mg over the recommended limit. Also, remember that even though espresso-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos contain less caffeine than brewed coffee, many drinks are made with at least two espresso shots, not one.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
Join The Conversation
1curiouswriter 1curiouswriter 3 years

This is good info. I'm not much of a coffee drinker but I usually drink some sort of tea on every day, and every now and then I'll grab a Starbucks frappe that's got coffee (not to mention tons of sugar) in it.

PRPLskwrl PRPLskwrl 8 years
Hey Fitsugar - what is the source of this information about caffeine?
homekeeper homekeeper 8 years
Wow, I had no idea Starbuck's had that much caffeine, it has more then my homemade brew.
soapbox soapbox 8 years
I usually like my coffee strong, stronger than Sarbucks hehe. Some even say it's nauseating. Maybe I should dilute it now that I know there's a limit...
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Don't forget that the values listed here are for Starbucks coffee, which I think has an insane amount of caffeine. I usually brew my own at home and it's decidedly weaker than Starbucks.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I prefer having tea more since if I make my coffee stronger than what I prefer I feel anxious for hours for no reason (other than the caffeine). The last time that happened I could feel my heart racing and it freaked me out so it's been more than a yr. since I last had coffee.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
Switch to decaf and drink away. But make the transition gradually, over 2 weeks or else you may get bad headaches like I did when I switched cold turkey. They only lasted4days though. Keep in mind that even decaf has SOME caffeine in it -- it's not called UNcaf.
Sharon-McEachern Sharon-McEachern 8 years
Many people have no idea just how much caffeine they consume daily. That's because more and more beverage, food and pharmaceutical products have higher and higher concentrations of caffeine -- even chewing gum and candy bars! A cup of java from Starbucks has 50 percent more caffeine than home-brew. Caffeine is the world's most popular central nerous system stimulant. These days caffeine intoxication is becoming a problem and its symptoms mimic the symtoms of real psychosis. Doctors often can't tell the different and then over-diagnose prescription psychotropic meds. OUCH! Don't try and tell the folks in the Psych Ward; "It was just the coffee -- let me out. The Ethic Soup blog has a really good Caffeine Facts article at:
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Oh, about the whole caffeine affecting people has to do with how much cytochrome P450 your body makes. Some people make a lot of it and they are called "fast metabolizers" and they break down drugs very quickly (this includes caffeine). Other people don't have as much of it and they are called "slow metabolizers" and drugs stay in their systems longer. It's mostly a genetic thing, but I'm guessing that if you constantly expose yourself to a drug, your body may start to produce more cytochrome P450 to handle the load.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I'm one of those people that isn't affected by caffeine either. I can have caffeine within 30 minutes of going to bed and I have no trouble falling asleep. My dad's the same way...he can drink 10+ cups of coffee a day and not be jittery or anything at all. Still, I try to limit my caffeine because it's not great for me. I drink 4 cups of coffee a day, but I use 1/2 caff coffee, so I'm not getting all the caffeine.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
it's sometimes so hard for me to tell how much caffeine i';m getting given that i don't always know what type of coffee i'm having. i typically have coffee only on the weekends w/ breakfast/brunch but i've found myself in need of coffee in the AM at work lately.
1apple 1apple 8 years
I like Starbucks decaf with a sugar-free flavour shot. I don't have caffeine very often, so when I do I talk a mile a minute and get soo jittery.
mudnessa mudnessa 8 years
jessie- if you like it of course you should try some clove in with your coffee, i add a bit of clove and a bit of cinnamon and use a vanilla soy milk, its delicious, so comforting on cold winter mornings. clove just makes me melt with comfort. i only drink one "cup" of coffee a day but technically my "cup" is at least 16 ounces so thats two cups but i only fill it 3/4 of the way or a bit more so there is room for my milk. but i also use a french press and wasn't there an article about different methods of brewing and caffeine levels or something a bit ago. its difficult to actual determine how much caffeine i am taking in. doesnt seem to affect my sleep and it gets me going in the morning.
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Caernarvan- YES! A lot of my classmates have this too. I have a theory that follows addiction theories for other drugs (since technically, caffeine is one!) When you are addicted to a drug, when you get the drug cues (i.e. the smell of coffee!) your body will start doing the opposite effect of the drug to try to keep balanced. So maybe for people who are drinking tons of coffee, eventually their body starts trying to 'fight back' by making them sleepy to outweigh all that caffeine. Maybe?! :-)
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 8 years
I have a Grind and Brew and delisious Dean and Deluca coffe. I limit myseld to two cups a day any more than that and I am jittery. I drink Yerba Mate sometimes and that also gets me going.
Dana18 Dana18 8 years
I drink green tea mostly. But it is good to know how much is to much.
caernarvan caernarvan 8 years
is it weird that caffeine just DOESN'T affect me? I can drink 10 cups of coffee right before bed & I sleep like a baby. If I'm exhausted caffeine just won't keep me up, I need to rely on sugars (healthy ones!) for that. Does anyone else have that problem?
stephyr4 stephyr4 8 years
I'll drink coffee every now and then but I never crave it. I'd rather drink tea.
Antioxidant Antioxidant 8 years
I can only have coffee every once in a while. Like you mentioned, it really affects my sleep even if I have a cup as much as 5 hours before bedtime. Plus it makes me all jittery and dehydrated. But I do find a good cup of joe to be a special treat and very tasty.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Scary. Thank God I hate coffee.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
:coffeecup: I know I drink waaay too much caffiene... but I just lurrrrrve my coffee.
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