How much caffeine is ACTUALLY in the coffee at your favorite chains?

Did you know that over 64% of Americans drink coffee? And in a survey, over half of the coffee drinkers said they would rather ship a morning shower vs. skip their morning cup of joe.

It's no secret that most of America loves the bean juice. But with over 146 billion cups consumed each year… how much caffeine is that? And is it safe?

Let’s start with the basics. The FDA recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day. If you think about it in terms of an average 8oz cup of coffee, that means no more than ~4 cups a day.

But why the limit? It's because at 400mg, the adverse side-effects start to kick in. You might have experienced some of these side-effects. Common coffee-related complaints like the jitters, the crashes, insomnia, anxiousness, upset stomach, nausea, unhappiness (dysphoria), and headaches are all linked to high caffeine intake. And often times, they can be experienced with less than 400mg of caffeine. 

You’d think the major chains would keep this in mind when creating their drinks, right? Well, not quite. Let’s take it from the top: Starbucks has made its fortune off of its wide array of caffeinated drinks... but how much caffeine is in each cup? The average 12oz “tall” (small) drip-brew from the coffee giant costs anywhere from $2.50-$3.50 and includes a whopping 260mg of caffeine. The next size up, a 16oz “grande” (medium), has around 330mg of caffeine. So, if you were to have 3 cups a day, like the average American, you'd be drinking upwards of 990mg of caffeine. So... that's a lot. And way above recommended daily caffeine levels. 

But wait, you’re a Dunkin' fan? Let’s take a look at their menu: if American runs of Dunkin', we're running on alarmingly high caffeine levels.  Because at Dunkin' a small cup has 215mg of caffeine, a medium has 300mg, and a large has 430mg. After just one large cup, you're already over the daily limit. 

Ever wondered how much caffeine is in their decaf? Hint: it’s not zero. A small decaf coffee from Dunkin' has up to 50 mg of caffeine - and a large cup has up to 130 mg! That's more caffeine than most homemade coffee (and DEFINITELY more than joe'y).

So, moral of the story: be mindful of your daily caffeine intake, especially if you frequent the major chains. And consult with your physician if you are experiencing any adverse effects. Lastly, if you want to wean off your caffeine habit, take a look at some tasty alternatives! Tea, matcha, and of course joe’y are great places to start. I’d recommend starting by replacing that afternoon cup with a less caffeinated choice if it’s too difficult to quit cold turkey. 

If you decide to cut back on caffeine, let us know how you feel! 

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