Cold brew coffee is a type of coffee made by steeping coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water for 8–24 hours.

This results in a caffeinated beverage with a strong, distinct flavor that’s less acidic than regular coffee.

Besides the differences in taste and temperature, cold brew differs from other coffee drinks in its caffeine content.

This article explores how cold brew stacks up against other types of coffee in terms of caffeine content.

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Most varieties of cold brew use more coffee beans and less water than regular coffee.

On average, a cup of cold brew coffee contains around 200 mg of caffeine per 16 ounces (473 mL).

However, the caffeine content can vary quite a bit between different brands.

For example, a 16-ounce (473-mL) cold brew from Starbucks contains 205 mg of caffeine, while a 16-ounce (473-mL) cold brew from Dunkin’ Donuts provides 174 mg of caffeine (1, 2).

Additionally, many factors can influence how much caffeine is in cold brew, including the (3):

  • Amount of coffee beans. Using a higher ratio of coffee beans to water can increase the caffeine content.
  • Serving size. Larger coffee drinks contain more caffeine.
  • Coffee bean type. Some types of coffee beans contain higher concentrations of caffeine.
  • Water temperature. Hot water extracts more caffeine from the coffee beans than cold water.
  • Grind size. Coffee beans that are more finely ground have a greater total surface area, resulting in a higher amount of caffeine.
  • Brewing time. Steeping your coffee beans for a longer time increases the amount of caffeine present in the final product.

As such, the exact amount of caffeine found in cold brew and other coffee drinks may vary.

Summary

Cold brew usually contains around 200 mg of caffeine per 16 ounces (473 mL). Yet, several factors influence the caffeine content, including the amount of coffee beans used, serving size, type of bean, water temperature, grind size, and brewing time.

Even though most varieties of cold brew use more coffee beans than hot coffee, cold brew is slightly lower in caffeine.

This is because more caffeine is extracted when coffee is brewed with hot water.

However, cold brew is slightly higher in caffeine than iced coffee. Additionally, a 16-ounce (473-mL) serving of cold brew also contains more caffeine than a 1.5-ounce (44-mL) serving of espresso.

For reference, here’s how much caffeine is found in various coffee drinks at Starbucks (1):

Serving sizeCaffeine content
Cold brew16 ounces (473 mL)205 mg
Hot coffee16 ounces (473 mL)210–360 mg
Iced coffee16 ounces (473 mL)165 mg
Espresso1.5 ounces (44 mL)150 mg
Summary

Although cold brew is made using more coffee beans than hot coffee, it has slightly less caffeine. However, cold brew generally has more caffeine than iced coffee and espresso.

Cold brew is a type of coffee made by steeping ground coffee beans in cold or room temperature water for 8–24 hours.

It usually contains around 200 mg of caffeine per 16 ounces (473 mL), but the caffeine content can vary based on many factors.

Compared with hot coffee, cold brew is lower in caffeine. However, it contains more caffeine than some other types of coffee, including iced coffee and espresso.