Caffeine Showdown: Cacao vs. Coffee

crazy by Editorial Staff | Posted on August 29th, 2023

Ever found yourself contemplating the age-old dilemma of choosing between cacao and coffee, especially when it comes to their caffeine content? Well, you’re not alone! Let’s dive into this caffeinated exploration, unraveling the effects, benefits, and caffeine levels in these two beloved beverages.

Understanding Caffeine

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in various plants such as coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. It’s part of a compound group known as xanthines and plays a vital role in blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter promoting sleep, thereby enhancing alertness and reducing fatigue.


Aside from its wakefulness-enhancing attributes, caffeine also aids in enhancing metabolic activity in the brain, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery. But beware, its diuretic properties can potentially contribute to dehydration, and it can also stimulate stomach acid production, causing potential digestive issues.

Unwrapping Cacao

Known for producing the primary ingredient for chocolate, cacao, a tropical tree native to Central and South America, is also consumed as a brewed beverage. Cacao beans pack several alkaloids including caffeine and theobromine, which contribute to cacao’s unique flavor and effects.

Studies have shown that consumption of cacao-derived caffeine has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer, thanks to its flavanols. In addition, regular caffeine intake from cacao may improve cognitive function, although research is ongoing.

Diving into Coffee

Coffee, one of the world’s most consumed beverages, is a concoction brewed from coffee beans. Research shows that a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee typically contains between 80-100 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the variety and preparation method. Coffee-derived caffeine may boost your resting metabolic rate, aiding in weight loss, and improving mood by stimulating dopamine release. But remember, moderation is key to avoiding adverse health effects.

Caffeine Face-off: Coffee vs. Cacao

Research shows that a cup of coffee generally contains 95mg of caffeine, significantly more than the 4.6 milligrams found in a teaspoon of cacao nibs. However, cacao’s lower caffeine content can have milder effects on your digestive system, making it a healthier alternative for those with digestive sensitivities.

Factors Influencing Caffeine Content

Study shows that the caffeine content in both coffee and cacao can be influenced by several factors. These include the type of plant species, growing conditions such as soil type and climate, and the roasting process.

Coffee beans are typically roasted at higher temperatures than cacao beans, potentially leading to more caffeine degradation. The storage conditions of these beans can also affect caffeine content, with exposure to heat, light, and oxygen potentially leading to caffeine degradation.

Mindful Caffeine Consumption

While deciding between cacao and coffee, keep in mind your personal caffeine tolerance and preferences. Cacao can be a milder, tasty alternative to coffee, but for those accustomed to coffee’s higher caffeine content, incorporating both can provide variety in your routine.

According to The U.S Food and Drug Agency (FDA), they suggest sticking to no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, roughly equivalent to around four cups of coffee or 20 servings of cacao. Listen to your body and adjust your caffeine intake as needed, to ensure you get the benefits without the drawbacks.

At the end of the day, whether it’s cacao or coffee, the key lies in understanding the caffeine content, its effects on your body, and striking a balance for a healthier you!

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.