by Erin Marissa Russell
As coffee lovers we are always curious about how a particular brewing method will affect our cup of joe. My question was, how the pour-over method of brewing fits in with other preparation methods when it comes to the caffeine content of the resulting brew. Not only does pour over coffee have a higher caffeine content than your usual cup of coffee prepared with automatic coffee makers (an average of 95 milligrams of caffeine)—it even contains more than most shots of espresso (which range from 80 to 185 mg of caffeine). That means your pour-over coffee has up to twice as much caffeine as a single shot of espresso. Keep in mind that a regular cup of coffee has more caffeine than an espresso shot in general though.
However, that’s quite a range from the lowest to the highest end. It may help to keep in mind that the average cup of pour over coffee contains 145 mg of caffeine. Let’s see what else there is to know about the relationship between caffeine and your cup of pour over coffee.
What Determines Your Coffee’s Caffeine Content?
When it comes down to it, the amount of caffeine in a certain type of coffee is all about the extraction. The same process that extracts the soluble flavors and oils from coffee beans to change hot water into coffee, also results in polyphenol and caffeine extraction. Polyphenols are the active compounds that benefit your health, specifically boosting the wellness of your brain, heart, and digestive system.
How finely the coffee is ground is linked to the extraction process and this in turn determines how much caffeine is in your coffee. With a finer grind there is more surface area exposed to the water and more of all the good things in coffee, caffeine included, can be extracted.
Additionally, the more finely ground your coffee , the longer it will take for the water you use in your brewing process to move through the coffee beans. Depending on your preparation method it is possible to have an extraction time that is too long. If the coffee grind is too fine and the coffee grounds steep too long the prolonged extraction may result in undesirable flavors in your coffee. We have recommended grind settings to accompany each brew method so that you get the best results possible.
Some coffee beans also naturally contain more caffeine than others. When the coffee beans are growing on the coffee bean trees, caffeine acts as a naturally occurring bug repellent to protect the plants. Coffee beans grown at lower altitudes encounter more insects than those grown at higher altitudes. Because of this you will find a higher caffeine concentration in the type of coffee beans that grow at lower altitudes than you will in the type of beans that grow at higher altitudes. However, at higher altitudes the lower amounts of caffeine are matched with higher amounts of polyphenols because the soil at those higher altitudes is more fertile and rich in nutrients.
In addition to the extraction and caffeine levels of your coffee being determined by the beans themselves and the size of the grind, the temperature of the water you use also has an impact. Experts who have performed coffee brewing tests have found that coffee brewed with water at a lower temperature has less caffeine than coffee brewed at high temperatures.
With the water temperature, grind size, and brew time affecting the caffeine content, it only makes sense that the type of coffee brewer you use would also have an influence on the amount of caffeine your coffee contains. The longer the coffee beans steep in the hot water and the higher the temperature of your water, the more caffeine will be extracted, as we’ve discussed. Some preparation methods naturally use more heat or time to prepare a good cup of coffee.
Any preparation that immerses the beans completely in water, allowing the water to envelop the coffee beans from all sides, is bound to extract more caffeine than preparation methods where the water is not immersing the coffee beans, such as a pour over preparation. Immersion style preparations also tend to let the beans steep in the hot water for longer than preparation methods such as a pour overs that do not require immersion.