Espresso coffees, caffeine and chlorogenic acid intake: potential health implications

Food Funct. 2012 Jan;3(1):30-3. doi: 10.1039/c1fo10240k. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


HPLC analysis of 20 commercial espresso coffees revealed 6-fold differences in caffeine levels, a 17-fold range of caffeoylquinic acid contents, and 4-fold differences in the caffeoylquinic acid : caffeine ratio. These variations reflect differences in batch-to-batch bean composition, possible blending of arabica with robusta beans, as well as roasting and grinding procedures, but the predominant factor is likely to be the amount of beans used in the coffee-making/barista processes. The most caffeine in a single espresso was 322 mg and a further three contained >200 mg, exceeding the 200 mg day(-1) upper limit recommended during pregnancy by the UK Food Standards Agency. This snap-shot of high-street expresso coffees suggests the published assumption that a cup of strong coffee contains 50 mg caffeine may be misleading. Consumers at risk of toxicity, including pregnant women, children and those with liver disease, may unknowingly ingest excessive caffeine from a single cup of espresso coffee. As many coffee houses prepare larger volume coffees, such as Latte and Cappuccino, by dilution of a single or double shot of expresso, further study on these products is warranted. New data are needed to provide informative labelling, with attention to bean variety, preparation, and barista methods.

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine / adverse effects
  • Caffeine / analysis*
  • Chlorogenic Acid / adverse effects
  • Chlorogenic Acid / analysis*
  • Coffea / chemistry*
  • Coffee / adverse effects
  • Coffee / chemistry*
  • Health
  • Humans


  • Coffee
  • Chlorogenic Acid
  • Caffeine