How Much Coffee Is Too Much Coffee?

Caffeine has its perks, but it can also pose problems. People who are susceptible may find they feel the effects after just one cup of coffee or tea, while others won’t feel effects until 3-4 cups of coffee. If you rely on coffee to get you going, you are not alone. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, alleviates fatigue, increases alertness, and improves concentration and focus.

For most adults 200-300mgs (about 2 cups of coffee) a day isn’t harmful. Heavy caffeine use however, where you are consuming 500mgs – 600mg a day may cause the following symptoms, and may need limiting.

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

How you react to coffee is subjective and varies from one person to the next. People who do not regularly drink coffee tend to be more susceptible to its effects, as regular coffee drinkers have built up a tolerance to the drug. Body mass, age, medication use and health conditions (such as anxiety disorders) can also play a part. There is also research to suggest that men are more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than women.

Taken in moderation, caffeine is harmless and may even be beneficial. Just keep an eye on your intake – whether an espresso, flat white, green tea or chocolate – be aware of your daily caffeine intake and it affects. If you are worried or stressed, or if you are pregnant, have less than 200mg a day.

Caffeine Chart:

(NSW Govt Health 2007)

Instant coffee

60-100 mg per cup
The amount of caffeine depends on how much you put in the cup, but on average its 60mg per cup.

Fresh coffee

80-350 mg per cup.
The amount of caffeine depends on:

  • The type of beans (‘Robusta’ contains more caffeine than ‘Arabica’)
  • The way the coffee is made
  • How strong the brew is

Generally a store bought espresso contains 80mg of caffeine (single shot)

Decaffeinated coffee

2 – 4 mg per cup
The amount of caffeine is usually marked on the packet. Caffeine is extracted with solvents, so not a good alternative.


8 – 90 mg per cup
Caffeine content depends on how strong the brew is. Most herbal teas do not contain caffeine. Black tea & green tea both contain caffeine.

Cola drinks

35 mg per 250ml serve
Cola drinks often contain a lot of added sugar also.

Cocoa and hot chocolate

10 – 70 mg per cup
The amount of caffeine depends on strength of the brew and the other chemicals in the product

Chocolate bars

20 – 60 mg per 200 g bar
Chocolate also contains a lot of sugar

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications

20 – 100 mg per dose
Some medicines (cough, headache and slimming products) contain caffeine.

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