The High Street coffees with the biggest caffeine kick: Costa offers strongest cappuccino
Those looking for a pick-me-up from their morning coffee may find their not getting the boost they expected from popular high street chains.
Five coffee chains including Starbucks, Costa and Pret have been put to the test by consumer group Which? who measured the caffeine levels in hot beverages.
The results have revealed ‘huge differences’ in the amount of caffeine in espressos, cappuccinos and filter coffees.
They discovered that high street barista Costa’s signature blend offers the strongest medium cappuccino with a massive 325mg of caffeine per 362ml.
At the other end of the rankings, Starbucks was found to have the lowest caffeine content in all of their drinks.
Their espresso had the lowest caffeine content out of all five chains, with just 66mg per 350ml – which contains less than a tea bag.
Revealed: Which? found ‘huge differences’ in the amount of caffeine in espressos, cappuccinos and filter coffees at five popular high street chains
The consumer champion investigated caffeine levels in cappuccino, espresso and filter coffees at Costa, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Greggs and Caffè Nero.
Notably, the low 66mg of caffeine found in the Starbucks cappuccino was even less than the 75mg you would find in a typical tea bag.
Second weakest was Caffe Nero’s cappuccino which had between 110-115mg of caffeine per 355ml.
Greggs offered the second highest level in a cappuccino at 197mg while Pret a Manger came in third at 180mg.
Which? concluded: ‘Knocking back two medium cappuccinos from Costa in a day could therefore put you over the safe limit of caffeine intake, while the Starbucks version may not be quite the wake-up call you were hoping for.’
Looking at other drinks, Pret generally came out as the strongest in terms of caffeine levels.
A single-shot espresso from Pret contained 180mg of caffeine, which was six times as much as Starbucks, which had a meagre 33mg.
Costa again scored highly when it came to the caffeine in its espresso, with 100mg in a 30ml drink.
Greggs had 75mg of caffeine per 28ml while Caffe Nero had 45mg.
A filter coffee from Pret contained 271mg of caffeine, which was two-and-a-half times as much as the Starbucks version at 102mg.
Greggs’ filter coffee ranked second highest with 225mg of caffeine content per 314ml drink.
Drinking two to three mugs daily — in line with the amount consumed by the average Briton and American — is linked to living longer and a lower risk of heart problems, according to researchers in Australia
A single espresso from Pret a Manger was also found to contain 180mg of caffeine, six times more than the same drink sold by Starbucks which had just 33mg by comparison
At its best, a dose of caffeine boosts alertness, elevates the mood and can improve performance for those in physical jobs.
However, there are also potential negatives of having too much caffeine as well as presenting a heightened risk to pregnant women.
Which? suggested that many people, including pregnant women, might actively want to seek out coffee with lower caffeine levels.
It said: ‘Consumers worried about their caffeine intake might want to consider how much is in their drinks when buying coffee… people who are sensitive to caffeine or need to avoid it for health reasons, such as being pregnant, should avoid the stronger coffees.’
It added: ‘Another way to limit the amount of caffeine in a drink is to request fewer shots in the drink when ordering.
‘A large cappuccino from Costa contains four shots of espresso, while a small flat white contains three shots and most coffees in the chains have at least two shots of espresso.
‘Caffeine intake can quickly add up for those who drink multiple cups a day – especially if you are unwittingly buying drinks at the stronger end of the spectrum.
Which? nutritionist, Shefalee Loth, said: ‘Many of us rely on coffee to get us through the dark winter mornings, but our research shows you may be consuming significantly more, or less, caffeine than you bargained for.
‘Our analysis has shown that there are big variations in caffeine content between drinks from different high-street coffee shops.
‘Most of the time this shouldn’t be an issue but if you drink a lot of coffee or need to limit your caffeine intake you might want to consider what you’re ordering and where from.’
A spokesman for Costa Coffee said: ‘Costa Coffee is proud to serve our customers a wide range of core coffee options. The amount of caffeine included within each coffee varies, depending on both the coffee and size of drink ordered by a customer.
‘All Costa coffees can be enjoyed with Decaf coffee and we offer a wide range of non-caffeinated drinks including the FuzeTea Superfuzions range.
‘All caffeine information is available both in our store or via our website and we would encourage customers to be aware of the caffeine content in their favourite Costa coffee to ensure it is right for their dietary requirements or lifestyle choice.’
Pret a Manger declined to comment.