Top Picks for Late-Night Alertness: The Ultimate Coffee Guide

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Short answer: An espresso shot is the best option to help you stay awake while energizing you. You can always double the shot for a stronger caffeine kick and an extra energy boost.

Any coffee, as long as it is not decaffeinated, can help you stay awake.

Some coffee varieties contain more caffeine than others. Some preparation methods extract more caffeine than other methods.

Caffeine whether in the form of a cup of tea, an energy drink, or a good old-fashioned cup of coffee, will keep you awake. It’s a psychoactive stimulant that increases alertness, wakefulness, focus, and overall energy level.

It’s also important to understand that coffee’s ability to keep you awake has limitations.

Continue reading to find out how coffee can help you stay awake for things you need to do.

How can coffee help you to stay awake?

As we all know, coffee contains caffeine which is one of the most popular and commonly used stimulants since time immemorial.

Caffeine is used by people all over the world to help them stay awake and energize not just during mornings but throughout the day.

At one point in your coffee journey, you may have read or heard the word adenosine relating to caffeine.

Adenosine is a molecule in our body that regulates our sleep patterns and prompts us to become drowsy.

Coffee, or caffeine in general, hinders adenosine by anchoring itself to the same cellular receptors that adenosine does. It then inhibits drowsiness while attached to the receptor that adenosine is also anchored to.

When the caffeine effect wears off, you’ll be back to feeling sleepy again.

You can learn more about how caffeine can help us stay awake by watching the video.

How caffeine keeps us awake?

Is it good to stay awake with caffeine?

a person holding a hand to their head

It isn’t a good idea to stay up for late hours with coffee. Caffeine consumption may provide short-term performance benefits, but excessive use can cause insomnia or worsen pre-existing insomnia.

Consuming caffeine to stay awake at night may lead to:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Frequent nighttime awakenings
  • Anxiety
  • Overall poorer sleep quality

Caffeine – according to experts and experienced firsthand by coffeeholics – can keep you awake if you’re sleep-deprived but it doesn’t really improve your productivity.

There’s no replacement for a good night’s sleep. Even caffeine can never do that. Sleep is essential for our body to repair itself, replenish our energy storage, and refresh our brain.

Consuming too much caffeine also disrupts sleep patterns.

Which is the best coffee to keep you awake?

a cup of espresso on a tiny saucer

Espresso shots are the best to keep you awake because they provide the most caffeine boost to keep you awake.

When talking about dark vs. light roast, there’s a misconception that dark roast has more caffeine due to its dark color and robust flavor.

The truth is light roast beans contain more caffeine because of the shorter roasting time. They then retain more caffeine than dark roast.

Let’s take a look at the different types of coffee that can help you stay awake.


When you want to stay up late, espresso is the best coffee variant.

Regular coffee works just as well. However, an ounce of espresso contains 45-75 mg of caffeine, whereas an ounce of drip coffee contains only 20 mg of caffeine.

More caffeine means a more stimulating boost. Similarly, increasing the number of ounces you drink will increase the effects.

Those who can’t stand the strong flavor of espresso can dilute it with water which reduces the sharp taste. Also, adding water to an espresso turns it into americano. 

Macchiato and cappuccino are also both espresso-based beverages that are best consumed in the morning after waking up because they’re considered heavy drinks that can make you full longer.

These varieties of espresso have the same amount of caffeine. The only difference is that they contain milk, which adds more calories and fat to your drink.

If you drink espresso on a regular basis but don’t get the max burst of energy and alertness from one shot, try doubling it up or taking 2 shots especially when you need to stay up late.

If you want a more in-depth look at espresso, I have a post right here you can check out.

If you’re interested in making barista-quality espressos at home, you really can’t go past this from Breville:

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Instant Coffee

instant coffee in a jar with a plastic scoop

Instant coffee is usually brewed and then dried up to make powder granules. 

Simply add hot water to it, and it’s ready to drink whenever you want it saving you the trouble of brewing coffee every time.

You can also add dairy and sugar to taste, but it’s best not to add sugar or any other add-on sweeteners to avoid any adverse effects.

Instant coffee helps you stay awake and provides you with a jolt of energy when you feel tired. 

However, the caffeine content in it is slightly lesser than regular coffee. There is around 30–90 mg of caffeine in one teaspoon of instant coffee powder, whereas a cup of regular coffee contains around 70–140 mg.

So if you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix while working late, instant coffee is a good option. Otherwise, regular brewed coffee is preferable in terms of drink strength.

The trending Dalgona coffee is actually made with instant coffee. You can check out this no-fuss recipe if you want to make it at home.

Regular Brewed Coffee 

When you need a quick jolt of energy, a regular cup of brewed coffee can also be a good option.

A regular cup contains between 70 and 150mg of caffeine, depending on the coffee beans used, the roasting process as well as your serving size.

Among regular brewed coffees, filter coffee is the most popular. You can make it more energetic and tasty by adding milk, cardamom, cinnamon, or any add-on you like.

If you want a more robust and flavorful cup of coffee, go for Arabica beans. If you just want an extra caffeine boost to stay awake, go for robusta, which contains twice as much caffeine as arabica.

Here’s a quick table showing the caffeine content of the coffees I mentioned:

Coffee VariantCaffeine Content 
Espresso212 mg (100 g of coffee)
Instant Coffee30 to 90 mg ( 1 teaspoon of instant powder)
Regular Brewed 70 to 150 mg (per oz)
Caffeine content of espresso, instant, and regular brewed coffee

If you’re looking for an alternative to coffee to keep you awake, you can try black tea which also contains caffeine but is not as high as those I discussed above.

A regular cup or 237ml of black tea can contain around 47 mg of caffeine.

Will 100mg of caffeine keep me awake?

Yes, 100 mg of caffeine is enough to keep you awake for a few more hours.

Caffeine has a half-life of about 5 hours and stays in our bodies for 4 to 6 hours on average. That means that after 5 hours of consuming 200 mg of caffeine, your body will still have 100 mg of it.

99% of the caffeine in our coffee gets absorbed into our bloodstream in just around 45 minutes. 

However, as those 4 to 6 hours come to an end, you may begin to experience the dreaded caffeine crash, which includes symptoms such as irritability, inability to concentrate, and extreme tiredness.

To sum it all up

While any caffeinated coffee can help you stay awake, espresso shots, in my opinion, are the best for this purpose.

With its increased caffeine content and robust flavor, you can feel an immediate boost of energy and you can even double the shots to satisfy your caffeine fix.

Coffee and tea are timeless go-to beverages that the world has relied on to increase attentiveness, wakefulness, and overall energy. Of course, energy drinks are the modern equivalents.

Caffeine is only a temporary fix for boosting wakefulness, and if you’re already sleep-deprived, you’ll return to feeling groggy once the effects wear off.

However, it should be noted that excessive caffeine consumption has unfavorable side effects. Like anything on earth, moderation is the key in order to reap the benefits of caffeine and to avoid the adverse effects on your health.

For the best quality coffee at a great price, check out Volcanica. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the smarter choice.

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