If you’ve tried a cup of the famous espresso Café Bustelo coffee, you’ve likely noticed that it packs a noticeably stronger punch than most simple instant coffee brands or your average supermarket blend like Folgers coffee.
Indeed Café Bustelo is a dark roast café blend with more caffeine than your average cup of coffee.
But how much caffeine Café Bustelo actually has come down to a variety of factors beyond what’s in the coffee grounds themselves.
Nevertheless, we can give you a simple comparison that makes it easy to understand how much caffeine you can expect when you brew Café Bustelo compared to coffee from other instant coffee brands, drip coffee blends and espresso.
How Much Caffeine is in Café Bustelo Coffee (Original)?
Importantly, these days Café Bustelo is much more than just a single blend of coffee.
While the original simple yellow can is still the brand’s premier product—widely available and loved—the company now makes an almost uncountable number of different varieties of its famous coffee.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on the original, and we’ll also break down all the newer varieties (like K-Cups, decaf, true instant coffee, and unique blends) below.
How much caffeine is in Cafe Bustelo? The original contains roughly 150 mg of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces of coffee.
Per the company’s reps (reported via Caffeine Informer), there’s between 60 and 90 mg of caffeine per six fluid ounce of Cafe Bustelo.
That makes it a very strong Café Bustelo coffee, on par with other espresso drinks, at almost twice as much caffeine as Red Bull energy drinks.
So What is Coffee Café Bustelo?
Café Bustelo is a classic Cuban coffee brand that was created in 1920s New York by Gregorio Bustelo.
Gregorio was a Spanish immigrant who had a deep love for the Latin community in the United States as well as for delicious hot coffee with the robust flavor and strength found in many Latin cities around the world.
Having traveled to many Latin American cities before founding Bustelo Coffee Roasters where he eventually made and distributed his instantly popular Café Bustelo specially blended coffee, Gregorio knew he wanted to create a stronger roast than what was commonly found in stores.
Read more about the history of Cafe Bustelo in our other recent article all about the brand and its story.
Is Coffee Bustelo Different From Other Coffee Blends?
Café Bustelo is a famously strong coffee that won widespread affection amongst the working class Latin American family throughout the 20th century.
It was widely available in local supermarkets, bodegas, and on independent grocery store shelves, which made it uniquely accessible while also having a distinctive full-bodied flavor that people couldn’t help but crave once they’d had it.
Compared to regular coffee blends people were familiar with—especially the other instant coffee brands they’d previously brewed at home—Café Bustelo had a noticeably high caffeine content that reminded them more of espresso drinks.
It thus earned itself the common nickname “Cafe Bustelo Espresso.”
Is Café Bustelo Espresso or Just Strong Regular Coffee?
While plenty of people call Café Bustelo “espresso,” it is in fact simply a dark roast robusta coffee and is not actually classified as espresso.
It became casually known as espresso because it was the strong “instant” coffee the average person brewed at home and rivaled in strength the espresso they’d come to know from their local coffee shop.
But while the special blend of Cuban-style coffee has much more caffeine than other brands, and even perhaps too much caffeine for some, it is at the end of the day simply very strong coffee, not espresso.
How Does Caffeine Content Vary?
Café Bustelo caffeine content is a tricky thing to measure because it’s not an ingredient or a vitamin that can be measured and guaranteed prior to consumption.
When you brew coffee, you’re causing a chemical reaction that releases a chemical compound—caffeine—as a product of the reaction between your coffee and the hot water you brew it with.
So things like how much coffee you use compared to water, the length of time you allow your little chemistry project to “run” for (brew time), and exactly how you go about brewing it all contribute to the final caffeine content of the liquid coffee you drink.
Factors That Affect Caffeine content
Quantity of coffee grounds you use in your recipe
How much water you add
The specific coffee blend you use
You chosen roast level (e.g. dark roasted espresso coffee vs. light roast)
Caffeine Content of Various Bustelo Blends
Based on that, effectively no two cups of coffee have exactly the same caffeine content.
So across varieties, blends and forms, caffeine content will always vary.
Unfortunately, Café Bustelo doesn’t publish the exact caffeine content for each of its many varieties of coffee, but we can make some general inferences based on how many certain qualities the coffee is stated to have.
For example, Café Bustelo ‘Brazil’ ground coffee in a can is “Pure. Bold. Distinct” according to its product page on the company’s website.
So we’re confident it’s at least on par with the traditional blend in terms of how much caffeine it has.
On the other side of the spectrum, Café Bustelo Ground Decaf Espresso Coffee is likely in the ballpark with other coffees labeled as decaffeinated.
As a reminder, even decaf coffee isn’t truly devoid of any caffeine content, with some still having as much caffeine as half that occurring in the average cup of green tea (up to 15 mg of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces).
Different Types of Coffee Café Bustelo
For good measure, let’s break down the different recipes, and varieties of Café Bustelo altogether to see if the names offer any hints at which may have more caffeine than other Café Bustelo varieties.
Café Bustelo Caffeine Ground Coffee Varieties
Brazil Ground Coffee Can
Columbia Medium Roast Ground Coffee Can
Nicaragua Latin American Blend Dark Roast Ground Coffee Can
Espresso Style Ground Coffee Can (the original—also comes in a plastic canister or a brick)
Espresso Style Ground Decaf Coffee Can
Supreme by Bustelo Ground Coffee Can (also comes in brick form)
Café Bustelo Instant Espresso Coffee
Espresso Instant Coffee (in jars or packets)
Decaf Espresso Café Bustelo Instant Coffee
Supreme by Bustelo Freeze Drief Coffee
Supreme by Bustelo Decaf Freeze Fried Coffee
Café de Mexico Instant Coffee
Café Bustelo K-Cup and Single-Serve Coffee Capsules
Café Bustelo Espresso Capsules
Brazil Dark Roast Espresso Capsules
Brazil K-Cup Pods
Café con Dulce de Leche K-Cup Pods
Nicaragua Latin American Blend Dark Roast Coffee K-Cup® Pods
Café con Leche K-Cup Pods
Other Bustelo Varieties and Coffee Products
Supreme by Bustelo Whole Bean Coffee
A range of flavored and ready-to-drink coffee
Wrap-Up: Caffeine in Cafe Bustelo vs. Other Coffees
While the exact amount of caffeine you’ll ultimately end up drinking in your Cafe Bustelo espresso coffee comes down to how you brew it, it’s safe to say that all else equal, there’s a lot of caffeine in Cafe Bustelo—espresso or not.
If you enjoy a strong cup of robusta coffee that borders on espresso, and like the idea of an easily home-prepared coffee you can make any time, this nearly century-old, beloved, and vibrant brand is definitely worth a shot—or two.