Around the world, sipping a cup of joe in the morning is more than a routine - it’s a ritual. For many caffeine addicts, one cup simply won’t do. But it is always important to remember that caffeine is a drug, and when someone who is not used to caffeine, or has a low tolerance to it, things can get dangerous. The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is 4 or 5 cups of a regular blend. In the past, that recommendation was just 300mg/day, so take note.
Most coffee products are made from arabica or robusta beans. These beans are grown all over the world, and are leading exports for many countries. Today, coffee brews are getting stronger and stronger. The lethal dose of caffeine for an average adult human weighing 140 lbs is 9,300 mg, or 66.5 mg per lb of weight.
None of the products on this list contain that much caffeine content outright, but even so, it's possible to experience symptoms of caffeine overdose at around 600 mg. Deaths related to caffeine consumption have been known to happen at 2,000 mg. So readers would do well to use caffeine responsibly, and to treat the drug for what it is: potentially dangerous.
These are ten of the strongest coffee products on the market today.
10 Shock Coffee Triple Latte - 28.9 mg/fl. oz
Shock Coffee Triple Latte is a ready-to-drink (RTD) iced coffee drink. It is one of the most highly caffeinated iced coffee drinks available, with 231mg of caffeine per 8 fl. oz. can. It has a reputation of being one of "the best tasting pre-packaged coffee drinks on the market". The drinks come in Triple Mocha and Triple Latte, and are advertised as “energy blends.”
Shock Coffee has other products as well, such as chocolate-covered and candy-coated coffee beans, instant powdered cappuccino, and an organic fair trade blend roast. The company was started in 2006, with an emphasis on competing with high-energy drinks and coffees in the market. Their products are available at retail outlets throughout the USA, Greece, Canada, the Caribbean, and on their online store.
9 Gloria Jean’s Coffee - 33 mg/fl. oz
Gloria Jean’s Coffee is a franchised coffeehouse with over 1,000 shops across 39 markets worldwide, including 460 in Australia alone. The company was bought in 2014 by the Retail Food Group for $163.5 million. Gloria Jean’s Coffees was founded by Gloria Jean Kvetko in 1979, in Chicago.
In 1995, Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine, former managing directors for the DDB Needham advertising agency, sampled Gloria Jean’s coffee. They saw the opportunity for the brand in Australia, and purchased the international licensing rights from Diedrich Coffee, pushing the company globally.
In the USA, the franchises are under the name “It’s a Grind” coffee houses. Most of Gloria Jean’s beverages are espresso based, with a single 2 fluid ounce shot of espresso having about 66 milligrams of caffeine.
8 Nespresso Coffee Capsules - 44.4mg/fl. oz
Nespresso is the brand name of Nestlé Nespresso S.A. of the Nestlé Group - a Swiss multinational food and beverage company in the world. Measuring by revenue, Nestlé is the largest food company in the world. Nespresso sells its systems worldwide, as well as the VertuoLine of machines in North America. Their machines work with their coffee capsules, which are little pods of pre-apportioned, single-use shots of ground coffee and flavorings.
Nespresso capsules are significantly more expensive than the equivalent of “loose” ground coffee - up to three times higher. Each capsule contains 5 to 6 grams of ground coffee, and makes one cup, and the coffee aroma does not degrade over time because of their hermetically sealed tops. There are 25 different “Grand Cru” arabica an robusta capsules available, and two Limited Edition Grand Crus are released every year. Each 1.35 fl. oz capsule contains 60mg of caffeine.
7 Peet’s Coffee Espresso - 46.7mg/fl. oz
Peet’s Coffee & Tea is a specialty coffee roaster and retailer based in the San Francisco Bay area. The company was founded in Berkeley, California in 1966 by Alfred Peet. The company is famous for its early introduction of darker roasted arabica coffees, such as French roast. The company is a household name, has over 3,800 employees and had a gross net revenue of $284.8 million in 2008.
Like Starbucks, Peet’s was seen by economists as a model for an evolving service economy, with a significant population of relatively short-term employees. The company has a devoted following knows as “Peetniks,” a portmanteau of Peet’s and beatniks. The company is viewed as one of the founding businesses in the gourmet coffee trade. Their gourmet espresso contains 70 mg of caffeine per 1.5 fl. oz shot.
6 Starbucks Espresso - 50mg/fl. oz
Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, ahead of UK rival Costa Coffee with 21,536 stores in 64 countries and territories. There are over 12,000 Starbucks in the US alone. The global chain started in Seattle in 1971 as a coffee bean roaster and retailer, before expanding rapidly. They are known for their variety of drinks, and for their big sizes, such as the 20 ounce Venti, and the 30 ounce Trenti.
By the time the company expanded into California in 1991, it had become trendy. The first store outside of the US or Canada opened in Tokyo in 1996, and overseas stores now constitute almost a third of Starbucks’ stores. The chain brought in $14.89 billion in fiscal year 2013, and is currently owned by a former employee, Howard Schultz. The company planned to open 900 new stores outside of the US in 2009, but had to end up closing 300 stores in the US.
5 Biggby Espresso - 50mg/fl. oz
Biggby Coffee is a privately-owned coffee franchise based in East Lansing, Michigan. It was founded in 1995 as Beaner’s by Bob Fish and Mary Roszel. The founders were originally unaware that the name of their store was an ethnic slur for Hispanics, so they changed the company name in 2007 to end the controversy.
After franchising began in 1999, the company took off, and they boasted 172 locations as of 2013. In 2007, the company was named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Annual Franchise 500 list, ranking 289. Next year, they moved up to spot 255, the second among coffee retailers. In 2011, CNBC named the company the fastest growing coffee chain in America. They plan to double their units every two years. Their 2 fl. oz shot of espresso contains 50mg of caffeine per shot. Their coffees contain no sugar.
4 Death Wish Coffee - 55mg/fl. oz
Death Wish Coffee is a popular coffee brand that bills itself as “the strongest coffee in the world.” In a 12-ounce cup of joe, there is an average of 660mg of caffeine, or over 200% more caffeine than regular coffee drinks. Death Wish uses robusta beans, rather than the more common arabica, for dark-roasted brews.
The company started in Saratoga Springs, New York, and guarantees your money back if the cup isn’t the strongest you’ve ever had. The company also sells single-serve coffee capsules. The company, as their name suggests, have become popular over the last year thanks to the dangerous amount of caffeine their coffees possess, and from savvy marketing techniques.
Customers must follow Death Wish Coffee’s brewing instructions to arrive at the advertised caffeine amount, recommending 2.5 tablespoons of finely ground coffee per 6 fl. oz of water. This coffee is only for those who have a tolerance for caffeine and can handle a high amount of caffeine.
3 Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee - 67.5mg/fl. oz
Chameleon Cold-Brew Coffee is a pre-packaged cold coffee drink sold in 32 fl. oz bottles, which contain a whopping 2160 mg of caffeine. The contents are extremely concentrated, and they’ve been cold-brewed for 16 hours prior to bottling. The nutrition label suggests consuming the bottle in eight, 40oz servings, delivering 270mg of caffeine per serving.
Cold brew coffee concentrate is meant to be diluted with water, as it has more caffeine ounce-per-ounce than traditional hot-brewed coffee. It is also unsweetened, and is designed to be mixed with a beverage of your choice, such as milk, protein shakes, smoothies, and even ice cream. The product comes in 32 fl. oz bottles in three flavors: black, mocha, and vanilla.
2 Stok Black Coffee Shots - 90.9 mg/fl. oz
Stok Black Coffee Shots are a non-dairy, creamer type shot that comes from WhiteWave Foods. WhiteWave Foods is a consumer packaged food and beverage company that manufactures, sells, and distributes plant-based food and beverages. In 2014, the company acquired Earthbound Farms, America’s largest grower of organic produce, for $600 million.
Their Stok Brand has two versions of coffee shots - a “sweet” and non-sweetened version. The cover of the tub reads that it is equivalent to an espresso shot, one serving delivers 40mg caffeine, and should be limited to two servings per day. There’s also a warning on the label that reads: “Warning: High Caffeine.” Each tub is only 0.44 fl. oz, less than half of a typical espresso, giving this product a very high 90.9 mf/fl. oz of caffeine.
1 Nescafé Ice Java - 117.6 mg/fl. oz
Nescafé is a brand of instant coffee made by Nestlé, who first introduced their flagship powdered coffee brand in Switzerland on April 1, 1938. The company began developing an instant coffee brand in 1930, at the initiative of the Brazilian government, to help preserve the huge surplus of the annual Brazilian coffee harvest. In 1965, Nestlé introduced a freeze-dried coffee brand called “Nescafé Gold” in Europe.
The Nescafé Ice Java is a syrup that is to be mixed into milk, a beverage of your choice, or as an ice cream topping. A 470 ml bottle contains 1880 mg of caffeine, and not measuring correctly (2 tablespoons, or 25 ml) could greatly increase the amount of caffeine in the beverage made, and could be dangerous. Each 0.85 fl. oz cup contains 100mg of caffeine, making it ounce-for-ounce the strongest coffee product on the market.