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If you get the jitters from a cup of coffee, you may have considered cutting back on your caffeine consumption. Indeed, caffeine — the naturally occurring stimulant that makes you feel perky first thing in the morning — is found in high concentrations in your morning cup of Joe. But the coffee bean isn’t the only plant we consume that contains a kick of caffeine. There’s also a bit of caffeine in your favorite chocolate bars.
Although they’re used for very different purposes and come from completely different plants, coffee and cacao beans share some similarities. Most notably, both present complex, bitter flavor profiles. As it turns out, both also contain compounds such as antioxidants, micronutrients and, yes, caffeine. That means that if you’re consuming high-cacao content chocolate, you’re likely consuming at least a small amount of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Is in Chocolate?
So now that we know that chocolate contains a bit of this natural stimulant, we’ve got to ask — what’s the damage? It really comes down to the amount of cacao in the chocolate you’re eating. In short, the more cacao solids in your chocolate, the higher the caffeine. That means that dark chocolate and baking chocolate, which have between 55 and 100 percent cacao solids, will have more caffeine than milk chocolate.
Unsurprisingly, bean for bean, coffee contains more caffeine than cocoa. You get about 96 milligrams of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Because it varies so widely based on variety, cacao concentration and the region in which the beans were grown, it’s a bit tougher to measure how much caffeine is in your average chocolate bar.
With that said, there are roughly 80 milligrams of caffeine in a 3.5-ounce bar of very dark chocolate containing 70 to 85 percent cocoa. In contrast, the same size bar of milk chocolate only contains roughly 21 milligrams of caffeine. That means you’d have to eat about five 3.5-ounce milk chocolate bars to get the same quantity of caffeine as you would in a cup of coffee.
If you want a bit of a midday pick-me-up and aren’t in the mood for a cup of Joe, you can still get a boost with chocolate. Try our Choco Latté, which is made with organic coffee beans from Blue Bottle Coffee to give you a bit of a kick.
A Different Kind of Stimulation
Indeed, chocolate does contain caffeine, but usually not enough to make us feel hyper. But why is it that we feel slightly energized yet not jittery or anxious after raiding the kids’ trick-or-treat haul? It all comes down to theobromine, another natural stimulant found in the cacao plant. Theobromine is a natural energy booster, but instead of the steep rise and hard fall associated with caffeine, it presents a more mellow, long-lasting energy boost.
Some people also believe that theobromine has the power to lessen the intensity of caffeine, creating a more sustainable uptick of energy. If you’d like to take advantage of this natural energy boost, make sure to choose dark chocolates with a higher concentration of cacao solids. We’d recommend steering clear of sugary milk or white chocolates with lots of added sugar that could cause you to crash.
Caffeine, Like Chocolate, Is Good in Moderation
Luckily, your standard chocolate bar likely doesn’t contain enough caffeine to cause you to feel jittery or anxious, and it certainly doesn’t contain enough to elicit any serious health concerns. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration reports that caffeine, in the right quantities, can be a part of a healthy diet. The key? Try to stick to under 400 milligrams per day. That equates to about four or five cups of coffee.
In short, most chocolate doesn’t contain enough caffeine to cause physical side effects or health concerns. With that said, you should always make sure you consume chocolate in moderation and stick to the higher cacao dark chocolate varieties to reap the most health benefits from your sweet pick-me-up.