Plot Twist: Espresso is fake

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Your alarm buzzes, and you reach for the snooze button. It’s time to wake up, but this morning you’re extra tired. So instead of the usual cup of coffee, you decide to go for an espresso. But contrary to popular belief, an espresso doesn’t give you any more caffeine than a serving of regular coffee would.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a shot of espresso has only 64 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the 140 milligrams in a standard 12-ounce cup of coffee. However, the caffeine in an espresso is much more concentrated, with half the amount of caffeine in a portion 12 times smaller.

One thing to note is that the amount of caffeine in a coffee product can vary, even in the same brand. According to a paper published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, the amount of caffeine in espresso shots can vary from as little as 25 milligrams to as much as 214 milligrams.

For most people, 100 milligrams of caffeine is enough to give a reliable energy boost without some of the negative side effects of excessive doses—things like jitters and anxiety.

That being said, not all espressos have a high caffeine content; they can even be made decaffeinated. After all, espresso refers only to a brewing method and the drink that results from it. It’s a type of coffee brewed by forcing pressurized hot water through coffee beans. That means that, technically, espresso can really be made from any type of coffee bean.

So maybe next time you’re looking to get a boost in the morning—when it comes to ordering coffee—don’t reach for that espresso shot when a regular cup will work just as well.