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Do Coffee Beans Naturally Have Caffeine? All You Need to Know

We all have heard of the tons of health benefits that coffee brings. That’s why it's no surprise that coffee is the world's most consumed psychoactive substance. 

If you're a coffee enthusiast, you may have thought of increasing your caffeine intake by eating coffee beans. Perhaps, you’ve heard of some of your friends munching on roasted coffee beans as snacks, which begs the question, do coffee beans have caffeine? And if they do, which types of coffee beans have more caffeine? 

For answers to these questions, please read on…

Do Coffee Beans Have Caffeine?

hot coffee in a white cup and roasted beans

People have been enjoying roasted coffee beans for centuries. The idea of eating them may have been around even before we started brewing coffee. In the past, people used coffee beans as energy boosters. Therefore, they would eat them while hunting, working, or traveling, wondering if coffee beans have caffeine.

Caffeine runs through the entire coffee plant, with the biggest portion found in the coffee beans. And despite there being over 100 coffee plant species, only two make up 98% of the coffee consumed worldwide. These two (Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee) are the most popular options on the planet. The main difference between them is their caffeine content.

How Much Caffeine Is in Coffee Beans?

coffee beans and coffee grounds

Generally, the recommended daily caffeine intake is between 300 to 400 milligrams. So you may be wondering whether coffee beans have more caffeine than a cup of Joe. 

A brewed coffee cup has about 95 mg of caffeine, while espresso averages 63 mg. On the other hand, a single bean has a very low amount of caffeine, but this varies with the type of coffee beans. So, you may have to eat more coffee beans to reach your recommended caffeine daily intake.

A single raw Robusta coffee bean contains about 2.9 mg of caffeine per gram of coffee bean. Robusta averages between 2.2 to 2.7 grams of caffeine per 100g of coffee by dry weight. 

On the other hand, the caffeine in Arabica averages 1.9 mg per gram. This means that it contains 1.2 to 1.5 grams of caffeine for every 100 grams of Arabica coffee.

Why Do Coffee Beans Have Caffeine?

coffee beans in a tree

The caffeine in coffee plants is a natural means of protecting itself from a wide range of pests. Caffeine is very toxic to pests; therefore, it can serve as a natural pesticide. 

Robusta has more caffeine because it is grown in lower altitude regions where it's exposed to more pests than Arabica plants. In fact, Robusta plants can thrive at sea level since their caffeine level is quite high. Read more about where coffee beans are grown

Dark Roast Vs. Light Roast: Which One Has More Caffeine?

One of the most common questions I hear among coffee lovers is, does light roast have more caffeine than dark roast coffee beans? The truth is, a single dark roasted bean has the same amount of caffeine as its light roasted counterpart.

The caffeine level remains constant during the roasting process. Normally, caffeine is stable at a temperature of below 455 °F, and very few roasters exceed this temperature. 

Remember, any temperature beyond 455 °F can be a fire hazard, so most people avoid it.

But here’s the deal… a cup of light roast coffee will have less caffeine than dark roast coffee. How is that even possible? Well, it all comes down to the density and the scoop of beans used. 

As the beans are roasted darker and darker, they lose mass, but the caffeine content remains the same. Therefore, when measuring the beans using a scoop, you will end up using more dark roasted beans than light roast. 

In fact, light roast beans are bigger in size than dark roast coffee. So you may end up scooping more dark roast beans than light roast beans to make a cup of coffee. 

The fact that they have the same caffeine level means that the dark roast cup of coffee will have more caffeine than the light roast cup of coffee.

Therefore, you should avoid using a scoop as a means of measuring coffee beans; instead, you should use a scale. With a measuring device, you can use the right quantity of either dark or lightly roasted beans.

How Do Coffee Beans Compare to Cuppa?

Whether roasted or raw, consuming coffee beans provides the same effect as a cuppa. But they have many differences, with the main one being that the beans are magnified. Therefore, even though the benefits of the coffee beans are high, their effects are also worse. This means that you will consume more caffeine than usual with coffee beans.


Is it safe to eat coffee beans?

Humans have been consuming coffee beans for years; therefore, they are safe to eat. But you should not consume them in excess. Coffee beans are packed with caffeine and antioxidants that can boost your energy levels. However, too many beans can have unpleasant side effects.

How many coffee beans can you consume per day?

Though our tolerance to caffeine varies, the safe amount of coffee beans any adult can consume per day is 400 grams. Consuming more than 400 grams of coffee beans can have a negative effect on your health.

Which coffee bean has the most caffeine?

Robusta beans have higher caffeine levels than Arabica coffee beans. A single Robusta bean contains 2.9 mg of caffeine per gram of coffee. On the other hand, an Arabica bean has 1.9 mg of caffeine per gram.

Final Thoughts

Caffeine is a proactive substance that can boost your energy level and wake you up in the morning. But to plants, caffeine is a natural pesticide that protects them from native pests. Caffeine is found in coffee plants, but it's highly concentrated in the coffee beans. The caffeine levels vary with the different types of coffee plants, with Robusta having higher caffeine levels compared to Arabica.

Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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