Are you struggling to stay energized throughout your workday? Maybe your coffee isn't hitting you as hard as it used to—if so, it may be time for a caffeine upgrade. Not all brewing methods and coffee beans are made equal, and each provides differing levels of caffeine.
Ounce per ounce, the highest caffeine content will come from espresso; however, drinks made with just espresso are rare. The drink with the most caffeine will be Starbucks blonde roast. A Grande contains 360 mg of caffeine.
First, we will delve into telling you exactly which drink to order so you get the most bang for your morning coffee. Next, we will break down what factors go into curating the caffeine content of your cup of coffee.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Top 10 Most Caffeinated Starbucks Drinks
1. Blonde Roast Brewed Coffee: Strongest Coffee at Starbucks
While some may instinctively think darker roasts hold more caffeine than lighter roasts, this is actually quite the opposite! There is nothing in the roasting method that makes blonde roast coffee more caffeinated; the added caffeine is actually the result of a finer grind used on the beans.
As mentioned above, the finer grind means there is more surface area for the 200-degree water to move through. This results in a greater release of caffeine from the beans. In total, you can expect this drink to have between 180 and 475 mg of caffeine, depending on the size you order.
2. Pike Place Brewed Coffee
This brewed coffee is named after the original Starbucks located in Seattle, Washington, at the Pike Place Market. This medium-bodied roast boasts 180–410 mg of caffeine, depending on which size you order. This brew has flavor notes of rich cocoa and toasted nuts. This is Starbucks' signature brewed coffee and can be found daily at any location.
3. Starbucks Cold Brew Coffee
From start to finish, Starbucks cold brew takes 20 hours to brew. This is quite a while longer than espresso shots, which brew in 18–23 seconds, and still much longer than a French press, which is ready in just four minutes.
Traditional iced coffee may look similar on the surface and even taste pretty similar. However, the difference in brewing methods not only changes the flavor profile and richness of the brew, but it also allows for more caffeine to be extracted from the grounds.
Plus, ounce-for-ounce cold brew coffee requires more coffee beans than iced coffee.
In total, you can expect Starbucks cold brew to provide between 155 and 360 mg of caffeine.
4. Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
One of the only real differences between nitro cold brew and regular cold brew is the addition of nitrogen gas. However, there are actually a couple of reasons why a grande nitro cold brew would have more caffeine than a regular cold brew.
First, nitro cold brew uses a higher ratio of coffee beans to water. More grounds mean there is more opportunity for both flavor and caffeine to be extracted.
Second, nitro cold brew is not traditionally served over ice. This means you are ultimately getting more coffee in the same-sized cup. You’ll be getting between 210 and 280 mg of caffeine per drink!
5. Iced Caramel Macchiato
The iced caramel macchiato is a stunningly layered drink topped with a stunning cross-hatch pattern. This beloved classic uses Starbuck's traditional espresso beans, but the higher caffeine content comes from the fact that the recipe calls for an extra shot to be poured on top of the milk. This is only true for the venti iced caramel macchiato.
In fact, all Starbucks iced venti drinks are to be made with an additional shot of espresso, so if you’re looking for a sure-fire way to up your caffeine content, this may be the way to go.
Of course, you could always just ask your barista to add an additional shot.
Depending on the size you order, you will get between 75 and 225 mg of caffeine per drink.
6. Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice
This drink used to be on the menu many years ago, and although it no longer is, you can still order it. The name is somewhat misleading, though. The only size of this drink that comes with two shots is the tall.
The grande comes standard with three shots, and the venti comes in at a whopping five shots of espresso. Yes, five whole shots. Just a word of caution—be very careful in how you order this drink, as your barista may assume you are asking for two shots poured over ice.
Depending on which size you order, this drink will give you between 190 and 325 mg of caffeine.
This beverage is made by pouring the espresso shots into a shaker with ice, shaking vigorously with classic syrup, and topping with two percent milk. You are always welcome to customize your order and swap the classic syrup and two percent with whatever other syrup you prefer.
The shaking process helps melt the ice a little bit to soften the flavor of the drink. It also gives the espresso a creamier flavor. Don’t be upset or surprised if the Starbucks doubleshot you order is not filled up to the top like you are typically used to. You can always ask your barista to add a little extra ice to top it up, but that is not the standard.
7. Starbucks Reserve Coffee
If you are lucky enough to live near one of Starbucks Reserve locations, you’ll have to try some of these exclusive beans.
Reserve roasts will give you between 190 and 420 mg of caffeine per brew.
Reserve blends are higher-quality beans that focus on telling the story of the blend. Think of them as the artisan version of the coffee beans you know and love. These coffee blends do come with a higher price tag, but you'll be rewarded with a higher caffeine content and a more rich flavor.
While americanos use the same kind of espresso shots as the other drinks you see on the menu, americanos are special because each size receives an additional shot compared to lattes of the same size.
A grande and venti americano will have three shots of espresso. One little-known fact is that Starbucks iced espresso drinks always come with an additional shot of espresso compared to the hot version.
So while the Venti Hot Americano comes with three shots of espresso, the Venti Iced Americano will come with four.
This means you will be getting between 130 and 260 mg of caffeine per order!
9. Clover Brewed Coffee
If you don’t live near a Starbucks location that serves reserve coffee, you may still be able to get a more decadent brew than the barista pumps out of the coffee dispenser.
Clover-brewed coffee is a unique brewing method because this $11,000 machine uses eight steps to turn your bean of choice into a cup of coffee. This results in a noticeably different flavor. Plus, you’ll be able to customize your brew by choosing your coffee beans, grind size, water temperature, and size of your drink.
Clover-brewed coffee results in a flavor that is less bitter and more sweet. They also provide between 190 and 470 mg of caffeine per cup.
The brewing process is kind of like a reverse French press. The Clover machine will grind the coffee beans automatically, cover the beans with water, and then you’ll watch your barista stir the beans around to evenly coat them. The grounds then get lowered into the machine. The barista filters the grounds with a metal filter. The grounds are then lifted out of the coffee, and your brew is ready!
This intricate process only takes about 30 seconds to complete but results in an excellent cup of coffee.
10. Cordusio Mocha
Starbucks celebrated the launch of their new location in Milan, Italy, by launching their Cordusio mocha beverage. The beverage is named after the street that the location was opened on.
This fantastic and decadent drink is a mix between a cappuccino and a mocha. There are two reasons this beverage has a higher caffeine content than a traditional cappuccino would at Starbucks.
First, the mocha sauce used contains a little bit of caffeine itself. While this is only a few milligrams per ounce, it does elevate the flavor and give the drink a stronger flavor and higher caffeine content.
Second, each size requires more espresso than other standard drinks on the menu. For instance, a short and tall will get two shots of espresso, and the grande and venti sizes come with four shots of espresso each.
Depending on what size you order, your drink will contain between 155 and 465 mg of caffeine. So if you’re needing an added kick to your day, the Cordusio mocha is a delicious and decadent way to put a little bit more pep in your step.
What Makes Some Drinks More Caffeinated?
There are several different factors that play into the caffeine content of your coffee. If you are curious how different variables will affect your coffee's caffeine levels, here is everything you need to know!
1. Roasting Method
Did you know that certain kinds of coffee beans have a higher caffeine content because of how they are roasted? While there are several different kinds of beans, the two most common are arabica and robusta.
Arabica beans are generally considered to have a nicer flavor profile than robusta beans. Arabica has a slightly fruity, sweet flavor profile. This type of coffee bean does have half the caffeine content of robusta beans, though.
Robusta coffee beans are not roasted because of their stellar flavor profile. They are, however, incredibly healthy and have a spectacularly high caffeine content. Robusta beans are exceptionally high in antioxidants, which makes them favorable to some health experts!
Starbucks does only use arabica beans as of right now, though.
2. Brewing Method
How you brew your coffee can change how much caffeine is present in your cup of joe! Obviously, a shot of espresso is going to have much more caffeine per ounce than a standard brewed cup of coffee, but there are other ways to change the caffeine content as well.
French presses are typically able to extract more caffeine than filtered coffee. Aeropresses and pour-overs tend to have about two-thirds the amount of caffeine compared to French presses and machine-brewed coffee.
3. Water Temperature
The temperature of your water will change the rate of coffee extraction. Hotter water means more flavor, and caffeine is extracted faster.
Before you start googling how to make 500-degree water at home, know that coffee experts recommend you brew your coffee between 195 and 205 degrees. This is slightly under the boiling point of water, which is 212 degrees.
4. Brewing Time
Whether you’re brewing up a cup of coffee or pulling espresso shots, the longer your coffee beans are in contact with water, the more caffeine will be extracted.
For instance, a ristretto shot has less caffeine than a standard shot, and a standard shot has less caffeine than a long shot. Your Starbucks barista can pull you any variation of these shots you prefer.
5. Grind Size
Grind size will affect the flavor and caffeine content of your coffee. A finer grind will mean water will take more time to get through and will ultimately come into contact with a larger surface area of your coffee grounds.
This means that finer grinds will result in more caffeine.
Some Other Fun Things to Know
Hopefully, by now, you know exactly what you’re going to order during your next Starbucks run.
You can always ask your barista for additional shots of espresso in your drinks. Starbucks is always happy to modify drinks, and if you are unsure of how a drink is made or what components can even be modified, just ask!
Another thing to note is to always be friendly to your barista because the decaf button on the espresso machine is located right next to the regular espresso button. So if you treat the right barista poorly, you may be punished with a decaf version.
Decaf coffee looks and tastes exactly the same as the full-strength stuff, so you won't know until your coworkers see you roll into work with a bad attitude. Although it's a fun fact, decaf coffee is actually just one-third caffeinated. It is not possible to fully remove all of the caffeine from coffee beans.