A Medium Starbucks Coffee Has Over Four Times The Caffeine Of Red Bull, And Three More Caffeine Facts

The New York Times has a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest on the health effects of caffeine. The study analyzes various claims made about caffeine, and it also offers a useful chart listing the caffeine content in typical drinks and foods. For instance, at 320 milligrams per 16 ounces, a Starbucks grande coffee has over four times the 80 milligrams of caffeine of a Red Bull.

Other findings by the Times and CSPI:

  • Unless you consume more than 575 milligrams, caffeinated drinks don’t actually make you pee more.
  • Coffee does not increase the risk of heart disease or cancer
  • Even though it stimulates the metabolism, caffeine does not increase weight loss. It does aid exercise, however, by dulling pain and stimulating the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates.

Sorting Out Coffee’s Contradictions [NYT]
Caffeine Chart [Center for Science in the Public Interest]
(Photo: AutumnRedux)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Isn’t caffeine like other stimulants in that it suppresses your appetite? I know it’s one side effect of the Aderral I take.

  2. christoj879 says:

    I think Starbucks is more cost effective than Red Bull. You figure about $1.50 (little less) per can at Wal Mart and like $4 for this for 4 times the caffeine. Maybe I’ll try it.

  3. weakdome says:

    Caffeine dulls pain?
    No wonder I drink it nonstop at work.

  4. cotr says:

    aderral is more like cocaine…

  5. @phnxamg: But legal and cheaper. I love how most of the “side-effects” are actually good.

  6. ptkdude says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: I miss Adderall. Sure, I shook like a chihuahua, but I only ate every 3 days and I lost a bunch of weight. Now all I have is the caffeine, so at least I still shake all day!

  7. regenerator says:

    @christoj879: You’re right that it’s a better value, but your costs are wrong. I’ll assume you can get Red Bull for $1.50/can at WalMart (I don’t shop there) – I’ve seen it on sale at Target for about that much. But you’re also assuming $4.00 for a grande coffee at Starbucks, when a grande coffee is actually less than $2.00 with tax in most markets. So in reality, the Starbucks coffee is actually a much better value than you figured, at approximately the same cost as the Red Bull but four times the caffeine content. This chart is exactly what I needed in my time as a barista; so many people would come in whining about needing lots of caffeine, then would order an espresso drink and refuse to believe that a 16 ounce coffee has far more caffeine than their “double-shot” mocha.

  8. psychos says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity:

    When I do drink a good amount of caffeine (which isn’t often, since I tend to build a tolerance to it pretty quickly), I’ve never really noticed it affecting my appetite. Other sources I’ve found seem to say that caffeine may or may not be a mild appetite suppressant, but not to the level of other psychostimulants.

    However, as you say, I certainly notice Adderall reducing my appetite. If I was particularly engaged in something, I’ve occasionally gotten to late afternoon/early evening and suddenly realized I never ate lunch. (Not really a big deal though-I just set a time in my head to eat if I take an Adderall and am working from home, such as not to miss eating until dinner.)

    These studies that they don’t quote concern me; specifically, where they say that up to 550mg produces no diuretic effect, and 575mg and up do. Doesn’t seem very scientific to me. One person could have a diuretic effect at 300mg, another might take 1000mg. Without further references and data as to body mass, average regular caffeine consumption, and other factors, it’s really hard to tell what this extremely specific cut-off point actually means.

  9. thelushie says:

    @ptkdude: When you said that, all I could think of was the shaking Mr. Spears from Grease.

    I had a friend in college who had a reaction to only one caffeinated beverage: Mt. Due Code Red. She would drink it during finals and she would shake like a chihuahua. It got worrisome at times.

  10. strathmeyer says:

    Wow, back in college I used to down a whole 2 liter of Dr Pepper and be high off my ass. Apparently all I needed was half a Starbucks.

    “Unless you consume more than 575 milligrams, caffeinated drinks don’t actually make you pee more.”

    If I contact these people do you think they’ll let me show them that they are incorrect?

  11. sean77 says:

    Coffee is a diuretic and a laxative. So sitting in the bathroom all day might curb your appetite.

  12. swagv says:

    WTF? This info is over a year old.

  13. cobaltthorium says:

    @strathmeyer: I agree – more than one cup and for the next three hours I’ll pee at least 5 times. Maybe it’s just me?

  14. hwyengr says:

    Haven’t we always known that coffee is high in caffeine? Isn’t that the whole point? If anything, I think this shows that there really isn’t a good reason to drink Red Bull.

  15. LintySoul says:

    One good reason to drink a Red Bull, late night clubbin’. It mixes damn well with vodka. Though Sparks is usually cheaper and hits the stomach like a sledge hammer.

  16. dakotad555 says:

    Red Bull is a much better drink mixer than a stimulant.

    Starbucks FTW

    I brew mine at home. I would love to see a comparison of caffeine content based on how much of the grounds you use. I’ve often wondered if the darker coffee that my wife brews is more caffeinated than mine.

  17. ceriphim says:

    @cobaltthorium: Although one cup isn’t much volume, people who consume large amounts of any beverage will by necessity process more volume through their bodies.

    My Venti Iced Vanilla Latte may not have enough caffeine to induce a diuretic effect directly, but the 32 oz of liquid certainly will…

  18. BobCoyote says:

    @dakotad555: IIRC, lighter coffee actually has more caffeine in it.

    This used to be more important to me, when pulling all-nighters in college. I personally prefer darker coffee, for taste.

  19. Brazell says:

    <3 Starbucks.

    RobCoyota — just a quick caveat, while lighter coffee does have caffeine, that “lightness” refers to the amount of time/darkness that the coffee is roasted for, where as Dakotad was wondering if adding more grounds (or less water) would increase caffeine… which it would.

    As for me, I’m loving Sbucks $2.00 grande deal after 2:00 … IG et a coffee at lunch and often times, one later in the day, and a grande ice with two shots for just $2.00… instead of $3.50+, that’s pretty neat!

  20. madanthony says:

    Hmm, so Vault, my recent drink of choice, has about 20% more caffeine than Mountain Dew. No wonder I can’t stop drinking it.

  21. regenerator says:

    @BobCoyote: @MichaelBrazell: True, if you’re talking about lightness/darkness of roast, lighter = more caffeine. In fact, if you want the most caffeine and don’t care about sacrificing taste, you should actually stick to diner and truck-stop style coffee, or certain canned coffees. These are all usually made from cheaper Robusta beans, which have more caffeine but are much more bitter than premium Arabica beans. Arabica is used in most coffee applications, but there are still those dispensers at rest stops and true truck stops that have Robusta… if you dare :-)

  22. ratnerstar says:

    On the other hand, I can get a bottle of Jet Alert for about four bucks. That’s sixty pills @ 200 mg of caffeine each. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Starbucks.

  23. Rahzel says:

    Caffeine is a diuretic, regardless of the quantity in which it’s consumed. I agree, though, that it usually takes a decent amount of caffeine to get “results”, but it’s different in everybody. For me, I can feel the diuretic effect after only about 100mg.

    Most cost effective form of caffeine? Generic No-Doz. 200mg caffeine pills for a few cents each. :)

  24. Rahzel says:

    @ratnerstar: ya beat me too it! Dag nabit!

  25. zolielo says:

    For cheap caffeine just go with caffeine pills. Looking up no-doz 400 mg of caffeine is about 25 cents.

  26. zolielo says:

    Cross posts for me too. My hat off you to guys.

  27. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’ve seen several reports over the years about decaffinated coffee.One of the biggest problems with decaffinated coffee is that it’s not,especially when ordered out.

    They say the residue on an unclean pot can hold caffeine and affect the caffeine levels of your coffee.Makes you wonder how clean the pots are or what was in them before hand.

  28. RodAox says:

    no wonder I feel like I am on friggin speed when every once in a while I get a cup from there… believe me I talk non stop like a junkie grinding my teeth and what not.

  29. MCQDeltaT says:

    I agree with the caffeine pill posts. Red Bull drinkers are just posers who like the taste of piss.

  30. theRIAA says:

    light roasted coffee + french press = assloads more caffeine than starbucks.

  31. Kyattsuai says:

    Efficient as they may be, there’s a certain stigma that comes with taking pills. Somehow being able to drink drugs is preferred.

  32. fall_farewell says:

    A win for caffeine. Now I am even a little more interested in buying Starbucks. Makes Red Bull seem like a rip off, although Red Bull does have vitamins and other ingredients.

  33. kyle4 says:

    As a hardcore caffeine addict who’s Doctor told him to stop, this is bullshit. For one, if I so much as drink two Pepsi’s I’ll have to maker at least seven bathroom breaks, I start feeling dehydrated, I’ll actually sweat, and than I lose weight. I’m 5’8 and I weigh 138 pounds, mostly because I walk around a lot but the caffeine certainly has helped with my slim weight.

    I also want to call bullshit on the Starbucks thing, since they reccommend only having (at maximum) two Red Bulls per day. Anymore and you risk heart problems and a heart attack. Oh, and why’d I have to stop for awhile? I could’ve given myself a heart attack at age 18 with the amount of caffeine I was consuming.

  34. Justifan says:


    certainly tastes better.

    brewed coffee can have a lot of caffeine, but well, thats a given. a “cup” of coffee is 8oz or so, so a 16 oz is 2 cups.
    of course no one really uses such cup measurements, but its the standard for measuring a cup worth of caffeine.
    well decaf is bound to have a bit, even if uncontaminated. the process isn’t 100%. its just heavily reduced. @sean77:
    coffee isn’t that. it if you are pissing and sh*ting because of a coffee its probably because you are new to it. or you’ve drunk way more than the good dose. coffees hard to abuse because it reaches a peak effectiveness rather quickly. anything over this and it punishes you with jitters and all sorts of bad feelings.

  35. malcs says:

    Red Bull actually contains Three active ingredients, not just the caffeine (which by the way, as it is produced artificially, is more pure and an exact quantity can be added, better for athletes who wish to know exactly what they are drinking)

    The other two active ingredients are:


    which is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced by the metabolism of glucose in the human liver. It is an important structural component of nearly all connective tissues. It also fights fatigue.


    is found in the intestines as a major component of bile, but helps reduce muscle fatigue and raises exercise capacity.

    There you go! Coffee does not contain all of these, and it is hard to reach a consistent level of caffeine in this drink due to the nature of roasting the beans.

  36. malcs says:

    @kylo4: You do not risk heart problems and heart attacks by drinking more than two Red Bulls every day, although this is the recommended amount due to the fact that you just end up buzzing!.

    The only reason you would have any danger from Red Bull or Coffee is if you are caffeine Hyper-Sensitive which is a documented allergy, and if you are then you should avoid ALL forms of caffeine including colas, coffees, energy drinks and chocolate.

  37. chiieddy says:

    @SarahC83: A grande HOT coffee (just a coffee) at Starbucks is less than $2, not $4. $4 is for specialty drinks which include espresso shots.

  38. TangDrinker says:

    @u1itn0w2day: I think it also has to do with the clerk/barista/what have you not knowing/caring about the difference when they make/pour it. There are tons of articles covering this on every pregnancy site, since Caffeine is one of those substances that may or may not hurt the developing fetus.

    One study showed that of all the chains, only McDonald’s was consistent in the lower levels of caffeine found in their decaf. [www.consumerreports.org]

  39. Parting says:

    That’s why I fell awake just by smelling Starbucks :)

    No other brand has same effect on me.

  40. chiieddy says:

    Now that I have my Starbucks coffee, I re-read this and thought this gem was rather funny:

    Unless you consume more than 575 milligrams, caffeinated drinks don’t actually make you pee more.

    575 milligrams = 0.0202825281 ounces

    A grande Starbucks coffee = 16 oz.

  41. Jackasimov says:

    Yeah, but Starbucks burns their coffee, so…


    @chiieddy. I assume it means that the caffeine itself in the drink doesn’t make you pee more than any other drink would. No?

  42. dako81 says:

    Starbucks. Hate it. Every time we go by one my girlfriend is like oh, Starbucks, nom nom nom. I think I might leave her over it.

  43. BuddhaLite says:

    “caffeine does not increase weight loss”

    There’s a lot of people in the body building community that would disagree with this. One of the better ways to cut fat is with a Ephedrine/Caffeine stack.

  44. battra92 says:

    @weakdome: LOL! My thought exactly. Of course, I drink Diet Pepsi so not really all that much caffeine.

  45. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @chiieddy: I’m pretty sure that means 575 mg of caffeine, not liquid. I think that’s around 3 cups or so, not sure. From what I’ve heard (and this is purely anecdotal, so feel free to correct me) the average person would need to surpass about 1 g of caffeine to start worrying about getting sick. I’m sure it’s easy to OD on pills, just pop several, but you’d start feeling sick from all the liquid before you drank enough coffee to kill you.

  46. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: And anecdotally, again, I made a pot of coffee the night before a major paper was due, around 8 cups. I drank it all over the course of about 2-3 hours. Other than shaking like I had Parkinson’s and feeling extremely nervous I was OK. My handwriting went to shit though. And I was so exhausted, but I couldn’t nap after the paper was due. That’s the worst, wanting to sleep, but being kept artificially alert

  47. floraposte says:

    @chiieddy: I suspect they actually meant more than 575 mg of caffeine, not more than 575 mg of liquid, which wouldn’t be measured in mg anyway. Here’s a randomly found chart of caffeine levels in drinks: [www.energyfiend.com]

  48. Ragman says:

    @psychos: Could be that the amount they list before it acts as diuretic is an average, like the LD-50 levels.

    Back in the day, my university used to hand out “Great Stuff” boxes to the dorm students every semester. They included sample packs of Vivarin. I’ve dropped some of those when pulling all nighters on senior projects – my brain felt like an engine running at high rpms with no oil. I drink coffee to stay awake now – I don’t like sodas/pills with artificially added caffeine for staying awake.

  49. Drowner says:

    Excedrine! My favorite!

    However I’m kinda frightened that one of those Cocaine drinks has more caffeine than a NoDoz tablet. I knew this kid in college who would pop those tablets like tictacs 3 nights in a row. I’d hate to see what he’d do with Cocaine.

  50. GreatMoose says:

    Unfortunately, caffeine also causes kidney stones, and those are less than enjoyable. I’ve had 8 (I’m a producer, I’ll have ’em the rest of my life). The interesting thing is, since it IS a diuretic, it can also help PREVENT stones by making you pee. It’s a weird world…

  51. ealexand says:

    Duh! doesn’t anyone think to google these things. I have been telling people this for 2 years now.

    p.s. I still have my venti bold every morning @ 10

  52. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @GreatMoose: This is largely an individual thing. No one in my family has had kidney stone problems, and we all worship at the Temple of Starbucks, the coffee of the day being our holy water. From what I’ve heard, your sodium consumption is much more important than caffeine

  53. corporatedrone says:

    This is decently unrelated, but can someone explain to me the point of decaffeinated coffee? I’m not being sarcastic at all, I really don’t understand it all. Is it that people used to drink coffee and got used to the taste, and now can’t have the caffeine but want that same taste? I guess I feel the same about non-alcoholic beer in my confusion… maybe the reasonings are the same?

  54. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @corporatedrone: I can understand. I genuinely enjoy the taste of coffee (not Folgers or other instant coffee, real coffee) and if I were sensitive to caffeine, I would still drink it. Drinking beer, though, is a necessary evil to get to the alcohol. Non alcoholic beer is basically drinking piss water

  55. GreatMoose says:


    That’s correct, it’s largely a genetic thing, and many things can cause them. I get caffeine and calsium stones, both aggravated by sodium. I should have said that caffeine CAN cause kidney stones. They suck.

  56. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @GreatMoose: I don’t mean to quibble or split hairs, just going on what my urologist told me

  57. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    so… not drinking starbucks coffee is why I am getting fat… interesting… I have so much extra money from not buying grossly overpriced beverages from snotty retail outlets and therefore being able to buy too much food… OK…

  58. Mike8813 says:

    “Unless you consume more than 575 milligrams, caffeinated drinks don’t actually make you pee more.”

    I don’t profess to be a math wiz, but doesn’t 575 mg convert to about a quarter of an ounce? I think it’s safe to say that most coffee drinkers consume at least this amount, placing the drink in question squarely in “makes me pee” territory.

    Someone please tell me if I’m way off on this conversion. Learning is fun!

  59. mwshook says:

    I took caffeine pills in medical school, and people were always appalled when I would tell them. The pills can be a rational decision.

    I don’t like coffee, diet colas taste disgusting, and regular cola is loaded with sugar. A 200mg caffeine pill with a glass of water was quite palatable and a good study aid.

    Yet, it was viewed as less socially acceptable than downing cup after cup of coffee.

  60. RonDiaz says:

    I call BS on more than 575 milligrams of caffeine required to act as a diuretic.

  61. regenerator says:

    @chiieddy: “A grande HOT coffee (just a coffee) at Starbucks is less than $2, not $4. $4 is for specialty drinks which include espresso shots.”

    If you actually read what I said, that is exactly what I originally stated. I was pointing out that the other poster’s logic was off because he assumed that a grande coffee is $4.00. I corrected him and said that a grande coffee, in most areas, is under $2.00 with tax. When I worked for Starbucks a few years ago, the price was $1.75 after tax (Seattle market).

  62. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @Mike8813: Milligrams of caffeine. Liquids are not measured in grams. If that were the case, there’d be over 20,000 milligrams of caffeine in a cup of coffee. You would most certainly die

  63. Tmoney02 says:

    @corporatedrone: This is decently unrelated, but can someone explain to me the point of decaffeinated coffee?

    This may shock you but some people actually like the taste of coffee. The problem is that because of health reasons or because they want to be able to fall asleep they can’t have caffeine. So Decaffeinated coffee allows you to drink coffee without worrying about the effects of the caffeine.

  64. snidelywhiplash says:

    I find that a scoop of ground espresso mixed in the filter basket is great for giving my coffee an extra kick. Just make sure it’s *on top of* what you usually put in.

  65. mythago says:

    @kylo4: Might be something else in the Pepsi, or something else you put in your coffee. People who dump sugar and cream in their coffee, or who order liquid dessert from Starbucks, aren’t gonna lose weight.

    Black Tiger Coffee FTW. It’s the only ‘hypercaffeinated’ coffee I’ve found that doesn’t taste awful. Unfortunately only Coffee People sells it, and they’re not local.

  66. Mike8813 says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: Thank you! I figured I must have been way off. Interesting name by the way… Yup, interesting.

  67. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @Mike8813: Kiss me :P

  68. Confuzius says:

    When I do go to Starbucks I get a “Large Double Black Eye” Their Large(whateveri) coffee with two double shots of espresso.

    This is also the only time I put sugar in my coffee. Black at work and just milk at home or restaurant, but the black eye needs some sugar and milk.

  69. Elvisisdead says:

    @strathmeyer: You’d have to consume 1.32 GALLONS of DDP to get 575mg of caffeine. You would probably pee at your normal rate for consuming that much liquid – same as milk, water, etc. It wouldn’t be until you exceeded that intake that you peed more often than the original frequency.

  70. Coelacanth says:

    @cobaltthorium: It’s probably caffeine tolerance at work. Of course, that very specific cutoff without additional data is worrisome, as many other commenters have noted.

  71. meefer says:

    I’ve drank, on separate occasions, a grande iced starbucks and 4 redbulls. Each time I did so within the span of an hour. Way more buzzed on the red bulls – they have different ingredients (mainly the taurine) in excess.

  72. Justifan says:

    iced grande is probably diluted quite a bit by the ice though. a regular coffee with or without espresso is what you get for caffeine. generally the other fancy drinks are more about taste than caffeine

  73. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I wish companies would start labelling exactly how much caffeine is in their products. Some things contain it that you would never think of and for a person that has to avoid it (like me) it’s hard to tell what to avoid and not to avoid sometimes.

    I think people have a right to know what they’re putting in their bodies, and an honest label is just about the only way to make an educated choice.

  74. FLConsumer says:

    At least now we have a logical explanation for why people keep buying Star*ucks coffee, because I knew damn well it wasn’t for the acidic burnt-to-hell taste. Damn caffeine junkies.

  75. hankrearden says:


    Just a thought – the voluminous urination encountered after drinking, say, 2 litres of Dr. Pepper could be related to the fact that you drank 2 litres of .

    Though an additional 575 mg of caffeine wouldn’t hurt the diuresis.