Getting Buzzed; Who's Coffee Has The Most Caffeine?

7:10 PM, Nov 12, 2007   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, FL -- Many of us need a little lift when starting our day. That's where a cup of joe can give you the jolt to get you going.

Just ask coffee lover Maxine Nightingale, "You drink it and you feel ahhhh, ok I can do it and that's what happens." Other coffee connoisseurs like Jerry Northern agree, "Wakes me up in the morning because of the caffeine."

Caffeine is the stimulant we're sipping in coffee that gives us the extra oomph. But some brands are stronger and that can affect us differently. 

We set out do on an eye opening study on caffeine levels in coffee, sold at some of the most popular places in town. We went to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds and Burger King ordering large coffees with caffeine, as well as decaffeinated, because even decaf has low levels of caffeine too.

Mark Roman of Tampa Bay Analytical Research examined our coffee collection to see how the caffeine levels measured up, "I'm taking five milliliters of the coffee and putting it in a flask."

While Roman tested the 10 coffee samples, we talked to Dr. George Ettel about why caffeine can cause a stir to the central nervous system, "The peak effect is usually about an hour after ingestion, although it can vary depending upon what other things you've been eating. If you have other medications." Dr. Ettel believes one or two 8 ounce cups are usually ok to drink.

After a few hours we went back to the lab, where Roman told us what the test results were, "The biggest surprise was the amount of caffeine in Starbucks and how much higher it was than the others."

Starbucks had 422 milligrams of caffeine in a large cup. McDonalds came in second at 243 mg.

"So you're getting almost double the amount of caffeine in a Starbucks serving than you'd be getting in a McDonalds serving."

Dunkin Donuts followed with 220 mg and Burger King had the lowest caffeine level at 169 mg, "I think when you get to that 200 level you're going to be a little wired for a short while."

And for latte lovers, a Starbucks café mocha latte had 194 mg, while Dunkin Donuts had 133 mg.

According to Dr. George Ettel people can experience toxicity after having 1,000 milligrams of caffeine in one day. So if you'd rather avoid that but still drink coffee, you may want to try decaffeinated.

Roman says, Dunkin Donuts decaf had 37 milligrams, while Burger King carried 9 milligrams, "These numbers aren't set in stone, but it will give you a pretty good relative amount of how much caffeine you are consuming."

In order to get the same amount of caffeine from this large Starbucks coffee, Roman says, you'd have to drink 12 cans of 12 oz Cokes.

While Maxine Nightingale prefers not to have too much caffeine, she still finds her coffee breaks invigorating, ' No wonder I'm happy with two cups a day now." So the next time you have a cup of coffee, how you take it may not affect your mood as much, as where you get it from.

Tampa Bay's 10 News

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