Turkish coffee has a reputation for being pretty stiff.
And not for nothing—a single serving of the stuff can pack as much as 165 invigorating milligrams of caffeine. It’s so strong that rulers of the Ottoman Empire once banned it on the grounds that it violated the Quran’s no-nonsense proscriptions against drug use.
Let’s take a closer look.
How Much Caffeine in Turkish Coffee?
Studies conducted by some of the world’s foremost authorities on nutritional science have found that the mean caffeine concentration of Turkish coffee is 165 mg per cup.
That means one serving has nearly twice as much caffeine as a regular cup of brewed coffee, which contains an average of 95 mg. And it’s almost four times the amount offered by Assams, widely considered to be the strongest of all teas.
What accounts for all that extra caffeine? The secret to Turkish coffee’s notorious strength lies in its method of preparation.
Turkish coffee isn’t filtered like drip coffee and espresso or strained like with a French press. Instead, the water and coffee grounds are boiled together, and the resulting mixture is served straight. As a result, caffeine otherwise left behind remains in the brew, and it finds its way into every sip.
The beans used to prepare Turkish coffee also tend to be very finely ground. The finer you grind coffee beans, the more caffeine and other plant-derived compounds you unlock. It’s a one-two punch of heart-pounding potency with which few other beverages can compete.
Is Turkish Coffee Stronger Than Espresso?
Yes and no.
In most cases, a standard cup of Turkish coffee will contain more caffeine than a standard cup of espresso. There is a catch, however: while the best Turkish coffee is unfiltered, it isn’t as super-concentrated as espresso.
The process of making espresso involves forcing one to two ounces of 190-plus-degree water through grams worth of finely ground coffee. This combination of high heat, low water-to-coffee ratio, and small grind size results in a supremely stimulating cup.
Just how stimulating, you ask? So much so that it’s without equal in the coffee world.
A typical two-ounce shot of espresso comes loaded with a staggering 60–65 mg of caffeine. By contrast, a traditional three-ounce serving of Turkish coffee, brewed the old-fashioned way, comes out to around 55 mg per ounce. Istanbul’s Best comes close to dethroning espresso as the king of caffeinated drinks, but not quite.
Ounce-for-ounce, espresso is the more caffeine-heavy of the two drinks.
How Much Turkish Coffee Can You Drink in One Day?
The FDA, the European Food Safety Authority, and Canada’s Department of Health recommend that healthy adults limit their daily caffeine intake to around 400 mg. If you’re keeping count, that’s around two or two-and-a-half Turkish coffees.
You might be inclined to think that you can handle more than that if you’re a bonafide java addict, but think twice. Consuming excess quantities of caffeine can give rise to a host of undesirable issues, including:
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Acute headache
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased thirst
- Severe acid reflux
- Uncontrollable muscle spasms
In extreme cases, caffeine overdose can even present more serious and troubling symptoms such as vomiting, shock, seizures, and coma. Learn how to quit coffee without getting headaches.
Needless to say, the addictive allure of a stronger buzz isn’t worth the risks it can potentially present.