How much caffeine does a cup of coffee contain? Caffeine content of tea and coffee As caffeine is naturally present in plants such as tea and coffee, the caffeine content can vary sharply. A short table listing the caffeine content of various types of drink is set out below. It should once more be emphasised that the content per type and also according to the production of the drink may differ sharply. Coffee type/drink Size of cup Approximate caffeine content (in mg) Instant (heaped teaspoon) Any size 50-60 Filter coffee Medium (125 ml) 60-100 Coffee filter machine Medium (125 ml) 60-100 Espresso Small (80 ml) 70-80 Decaffeinated coffee Medium- large (125-200 2-4 ml) Tea Medium (125 ml) 30-60 Coke 330 ml can 40-45 (in accordance with S. Papadopoulos (1993) Nutrition & Food Sciences 1, 28-33) The caffeine content of raw coffee (Arabica type) is 0.8-2.5%, and may be as high as 4.0% for Robusta varieties. Caffeine accounts for 2.5-5.5% of the dry mass of tea. The xanthines theobromine (0.07- 0.17%) and theophylline (0.002-0.013%) are also present in very small amounts. The natural range of variation in caffeine content is very considerable. Caffeine -containing drinks There are various drinks that may contain caffeine. The following introduction is intended to provide a brief overview of drinks that might contain caffeine: Coffee is of course one of the drinks that contain caffeine. Another drink with a naturally high caffeine content is tea. Definition of tea pursuant to Article 320 of the Swiss Food Ordinance (LMV): 1 Tea (green and black tea) consists of leaf buds and young leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) prepared by the usual method. Depending on origin, tea may also contain smaller or larger quantities of stem parts. It should be pointed out that in Swiss parlance the term ‘tea’ is often mentioned when herbal or fruit tea is actually meant. Herbal and fruit tea are also defined in the LMV (Article 323): 1 Herbal tea and fruit tea consist of plant parts or fruit or their extracts which, when brewed together with water, produce an aromatic drink for refreshment or consumption. 2 Besides vegetables and kitchen herbs (Article 188) and spices (Articles 357), only herbs that are non-toxic and do not exhibit any predominant pharmacological action are permitted for the production of herbal tea. 3 The fruits listed in Article 185 are permitted for the production of fruit tea. Fruit constituents (e.g. the skin of the fruit) may be used instead of the full fruit. Herbal and fruit tea do not normally contain significant amounts of xanthines. Of course, exceptions are possible depending on plant type. Another drink that contains caffeine is defined in the LMV. This is mate, which is defined in Article 322: 1 Mate (yerba, Paraguaya n tea) are the caffeine-containing, gently roasted and coarsely ground leaves of certain Ilex species, particularly Ilex paraguayensis. 3 The caffeine content must be at least 0.6 per cent by mass. Guarana is another plant that exhibits a high caffeine content. Guarana is defined in Article 325 of the LMV: 1 Guarana is the seed of the liana Paullinia cupana var. Sorbilis with a caffeine content of at least 3 per cent by mass. It can be peeled and dried, roasted and ground. 3 Besides the technical designa tion, a phrase such as “contains caffeine” must be used and the caffeine content quoted in mg per 100 g. 4 In the case of food in which guarana is an ingredient (e.g. chewing gums, sugar products or chocolate bars), a phrase such as “contains caffeine” must be used if the caffeine content exceeds 30 mg per daily portion. There are also what are known as instant and ready -to-serve drinks based on ingredients such as coffee, coffee substitutes, tea, herbs, fruit and guarana (Article 326 of the LMV). These may also contain caffeine and require a note such as “contains caffeine” near their name, if the product contains more than 30 mg caffeine per litre; products that contain a reference to tea or coffee in their name are exempt from this requirement. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine. Under Article 247 of the LMV, caffeine-containing soft drinks may contain no more than 150 mg caffeine per litre. A note such as “contains caffeine” near the name is also necessary if more than 30 mg per litre is present in the product. Declaration of caffeine The Articles of the LMV that govern the caffeine declaration have already been quoted above. In the case of tea and coffee, no maximum concentration is defined for caffeine. Caffeine is an additive pursuant to the Federal Rules and Regulations on Ingredients and Additives. In soft drinks and in instant and ready-to-serve drinks, the addition of up to 150 mg caffeine per litre is permitted (including natural caffeine). The addition of caffeine must be declared in the list of ingredients. Upwards of 30 mg per litre, the declaration “contains caffeine” is needed, with a declaration being dispensable for products whose name refers to tea or coffee. Of course, drinks with a relatively high caffeine content can be licensed as special foods by the Federal Health Office. This has already been seen in the case of dietary supplements for athletes, etc. In these cases, the caffeine content certainly has to be declared.
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