I am interested in the caffeine content in various coffees.

Will day-old coffee have much less caffeine? I am refering to espresso drinks such as the Starbucks Americano or the drip coffees also available there. Does refrigeration make much difference to the half-life? What about re-heating?

How about instant? I have seen charts comparing caffeine content in various fresh coffees but not instant. What is the typical caffeine content of instant coffee? What is the half-life of caffeine in instant coffee on the shelf as a room temperature solid?

  • 2
    I'm curious... It sounds like you mean the half-life of caffeine before it enters the body? It's not radioactive...
    – Max
    Jan 14, 2012 at 7:29
  • I mean the half-life before consumption.
    – H2ONaCl
    Jan 14, 2012 at 7:39
  • 3
    @Max: a substance does not need to be radioactive to have an half-life...
    – nico
    Jan 14, 2012 at 9:43
  • @nico Yes, it was merely a flippant remark... Sorry about that. It's just that half-life is something I heavily associate with physics, so I read the question kind of funny :)
    – Max
    Jan 14, 2012 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


According to Sigma-Aldrich, pure caffeine has a shelf-life of four years at room temperature, or many years at 2-8°C.

A caffeine solution can be stable for months even at moderately high temperatures.

So, essentially, your day old coffee has still all its caffeine in it, although probably it does not taste that well, but that's caffeine unrelated.

As a side note, after drinking coffee/tea/Coke/etc. it will take ~1-2 hours for blood caffeine levels to peak. Caffeine half-life in the body is ~3-6 hours.

  • 1
    The delayed peak might explain why it's harder to start work than to keep working.
    – H2ONaCl
    Jan 14, 2012 at 10:20
  • 100% of the upvotes come from people who with one eye open looked at their old cup of coffee and thought, let me google and see if it's worth it. Jan 18, 2018 at 21:05

For brewed coffee…after 6hrs there will be half as much caffeine in your cuppa. After another 6hrs, there will be half of that and so on.

At least that's the story that I heard.

Whole coffee beens store longer than ground beans so I imagine freshly ground coffee will contain more caffeine than ground or instant coffee brands.

  • Hmmm, I'm interested because I brew coffee the night before for iced coffee the next day. Do you have a source for this?
    – Jolenealaska
    Sep 9, 2014 at 0:39

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