It’s no secret that coffee is one of the most popular drinks out there. With billions of drinkers worldwide, coffee’s popularity has arguably never been higher. Undoubtedly most people enjoy the taste of coffee, but the majority of coffee drinkers are looking for one thing and one thing only: caffeine.
Caffeine is the chemical at the heart of our favorite bean-based beverage, and most coffee drinkers love the daily buzz that it gives them! However, not many people really know what caffeine is or where it comes from.
In this article, we’re going to explore the natural source of caffeine you can find in the world and the products you might find these sources in! Though coffee is definitely one of the most prevalent natural sources of caffeine, there are plenty of others out there.
What is Caffeine Anyway?
To get the ball rolling on our caffeine exploration, we should probably clarify what caffeine is in the first place. Though you might not realize it, caffeine is a drug! More specifically, caffeine is a stimulant, classified as a psychoactive substance, making it the most widely consumed drug in the world.
Because of its stimulating effects and natural chemical makeup, caffeine consumption has a risk of developing a caffeine habit. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee,” right? Or at least seen it on a coffee mug? This joke may be more true than you think, as people can develop a need for caffeine. Kicking a caffeine habit can sometimes be difficult, as caffeine withdrawal symptoms can occur.
Before you get worried, however, know that caffeine is safe, well-regulated, and reasonably beneficial to you in moderation! It is only considered a drug because it has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, which falls within the definition of “drugs.” When you stick to the daily recommended amount of caffeine and try to avoid highly concentrated sources of caffeine, there should be no reason to fear caffeine at all.
What Has Caffeine In It?
Even though it is a naturally occurring chemical, we encounter caffeine primarily in supplements, foods, and drinks. You’re more likely to be drinking caffeine than any other form of consumption, but caffeinated food is becoming more and more common, and people with dietary restrictions are turning to caffeine pills by the thousands.
The easiest way to determine if a product has caffeine is with a quick peek at the nutritional label on the back. However, if caffeine naturally occurs in an ingredient within a food, it might not be listed on the label! This results in “hidden caffeine” in many foods and drinks.
Hidden caffeine can show up as any number of ingredients on a food list, and it can be helpful to look up a list of these ingredients to learn more about caffeine in foods and drinks. You might be surprised at some of the names on that list!
Where Does Caffeine Come From?
Even though we mostly find caffeine in food products, beverages, and even pills, caffeine in its original form is all-natural! We extract the chemical from around 60 different sources, from coffee to the elusive Kola nut! All of these sources can be found in the natural world, although some sources are far more productive than others. While a synthetic version of caffeine exists, there are so many natural examples that we don’t really need to touch the synthetic ones.
With such a wide variety of sources to choose from, you’d almost expect more products to be caffeinated. However, not all caffeine sources are created equal, and the jolt you get from a cup of coffee is always going to be different than the jolt you get from other caffeinated beverages. In general, these are the primary sources of caffeine in the wild:
- Coffee Beans - One 8oz. cup of coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine, putting coffee products near the top of the caffeine list. For reference, the FDA list 400 milligrams of caffeine per day as the recommended amount.
- Cold Brew- For fans of cold brew, the caffeine content is even higher, with around 140 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz., and even higher for Nitro Cold Brew fans (200mg!)
- Tea Leaves and Buds - While many people already associate black tea with caffeine, both green and black teas have caffeine! Green teas have around 28 milligrams of caffeine per cup, while black teas have approximately 47 milligrams of caffeine per cup.
- Cacao Beans - Yes, chocolate has caffeine! Dark chocolate has the most caffeine, as it has the most significant amount of cacao on average. One ounce of dark chocolate has around 47 milligrams of caffeine, and an ounce of milk chocolate comes in about 10-12 milligrams of caffeine.
- Yerba Mate Leaves - Yerba Mate has become incredibly popular in recent years, particularly as an alternative to coffee. An 8oz. cup of Yerba Mate has around 40 milligrams of caffeine, making it the perfect balance between coffee and energy drinks!
- Guarana - You probably don’t recognize this name on the list, and that’s not surprising! Guarana comes from the seeds of a South American plant, with each seed containing almost four times as much caffeine as coffee beans! For this reason, Guarana is used to extract caffeine for energy drinks, soft drinks, and caffeine pills.
- Kola Nuts - Similar to Guarana, you probably haven’t heard of this West African nut before, but it is another ingredient that contributes to caffeine in many of your favorite caffeinated foods and drinks. One nut is equivalent to two full cups of coffee!
The ingredients on this list account for the majority of caffeine consumed in the world. From coffee-flavored ice cream to pain relievers and energy drinks, caffeine has worked its way into so many parts of our lives.
At High Brew, our favorite form of caffeine will always be a good cold brew! We craft our cold brew specifically for coffee lovers and adventurers on the search for their next favorite source of caffeine. Try one of our many flavors today, or even explore the wild world of nitro cold brew (think the texture of beer but it’s coffee!)