Coffee Revisited for Inattentive ADHD

I was recently writing this article for this place that pays me to write. The subject was coffee and ADHD and this magazine requires these exacting kind of references and footnotes. This is actually a really good thing but when you are a bit inattentive, like I am, getting all those references exactly right can be a huge challenge.

The upside for me, and maybe you, is that I have to read everything like five times to make sure that I've got it exactly correct so by the time I have done that, I have learned quite a bit! The process is enough to make me want to open a vein but the knowledge that I gain makes it worth it.

Did you know that there is an exact dose of coffee that is ideal to treat the symptoms of inattention in ADHD? There is!! It is 3mg per Kg of caffeine or 200 mg for the average 150-pound adult and 100 mg for the average 75-pound child. One five-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 mgs of caffeine.

Doses of greater than 5mg per Kg of caffeine actually cause performance deficits so it is important to not drink too much coffee all at once, as it will make you stimulated but cognitively worse off than before the coffee. Now that's a scary thought.

Coffee helps normalize attention deficits in individuals with attention issues related to age, stress, fatigue, and ADHD. Caffeine in this respect is more of an attention normalizer rather than an attention enhancer.

Coffee's effect lasts about 5 hours so you will need to refuel several times a day to keep the positive effects on board.

Coffee does very little, or nothing at all, to help impulsive behavior and it may make adults and kids more not less hyperactive. If you have Combined type or Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD, coffee will not help you as much as if you have Predominantly Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-PI). 

If you get a chance get this book about coffee at the library.  It is a terrific read.

I hope you enjoyed these new fun facts. If you did, add your face to the wonderful faces up in the right top corner of this page, support this site by buying coffee from this wonderful coffee website and then go and enjoy that cup of Joe! 


  1. Where did you get the information for the "exact dose of coffee to treat the symptoms of innattention in ADHD"? I'm curious to try this with my child, but want more info beforehand. Thanks!

  2. This is the study that showed that the maximum benefit is at 200mg. The amount in children is just an approximation based on tha amount in adults.

    Brain Cogn. 2010 Mar;72(2):181-8. Epub 2009 Sep 5.
    Caffeine modulates attention network function.
    BrunyƩ TT, Mahoney CR, Lieberman HR, Taylor HA.

    US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, United States.
    The present work investigated the effects of caffeine (0mg, 100mg, 200mg, 400mg) on a flanker task designed to test Posner's three visual attention network functions: alerting, orienting, and executive control [Posner, M. I. (2004). Cognitive neuroscience of attention. New York, NY: Guilford Press]. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study using a repeated-measures design, we found that the effects of caffeine on visual attention vary as a function of dose and the attention network under examination. Caffeine improved alerting and executive control function in a dose-response manner, asymptoting at 200mg; this effect is congruent with caffeine's adenosine-mediated effects on dopamine-rich areas of brain, and the involvement of these areas in alerting and the executive control of visual attention. Higher doses of caffeine also led to a marginally less efficient allocation of visual attention towards cued regions during task performance (i.e., orienting). Taken together, results of this study demonstrate that caffeine has differential effects on visual attention networks as a function of dose, and such effects have implications for hypothesized interactions of caffeine, adenosine and dopamine in brain areas mediating visual attention. Published by Elsevier Inc.

  3. OK I am confused about the amounts being described... I have been diagnosed with combined ADHD. I weigh 80 Kg with clothes on.

    Now what I am confused about is the amount of coffee I should take. I take a lot of coffee. I prepare something that I call a Large strong caffe latte, which is a 3 espresso mocha of Illy coffee which I then pour into a large mug to which I add 390ml of milk. The whole thing comes to around 500ml of cafe latte. In other words, I take 110 ml of pure espresso added with the 390ml of milk, I usually sip this throughout the whole morning and many times I prepare a second one in the afternoon.

    In other words, one shot of espresso (of Illy Coffee) has how much caffeine in it (so I can calculate 3 shots)? To be completely clear, how much caffeine is there in 110ml of Illy espresso, which is not at all similar to a regular cup of coffee the American style, ie one shot with a lot of water. I need that much milk to make the coffee not incredibly strong and I can sip it over a lengthy period of time. When I used to take normal doses of 1 espresso added with milk, I would end up preparing 5 or 6 mugs of coffee during the course of a day and a lot of tea (which in itself has theine, which doesn;t make things any better).

    So, understanding how much caffeine there is in an espresso cup of Illy would help me understand how much more caffeine I am in fact taking.


  4. 25-30 ml of Illy espresso has 78 mg of caffeine. This is the standard 2 oz or 30ml shot of espresso. If you are drinking three shots of Illy espresso then you are getting 78 X 3 = 234 mg of caffeine in your cafe latte.

    A study performed in Australia measured 25 different espresso shots to determine the amount of caffeine in each shot of espresso. The range was 25 mg of caffeine to 214 mg of caffeine.

    Illy, defines one shot as 25-30 mls and has specifically measured the caffeine content of one 25 to 30 ml shot of their espresso. They report that a 25-30 ml shot has 78mg of caffeine.

    Be aware that if you change your brand, all bets are off and the amount of caffeine that you are getting will have to be estimated again and different brands differ in the amount of caffeine in each shot.

    These are the links where they define what constitutes a one shot cup of their coffee in terms of milliliter volume. The next link reports what amount of caffeine is in one shot of their coffee.

    I hope this clears up the confusion. Your coffee sounds wayyyyyy yummy!! Thanks for the question. Tess

  5. Wow, that was quick! I'm impressed!

    Thanks for all the info. Yes, I am married to a very patient and beautiful (outside and inside) Italian lady who has introduced me to Illy and I never looked back! Of course her dad says that I don't drink coffee since it is not a 'ristretto' as they call it, that is one shot of espresso downed very quickly. I like experimenting with my coffee but I rarely change brand since I found Illy to be top of the range and it also IS Fair Trade, even though they do not advertise it openly (watch the documentary "Black Gold"). Instead of sugar I put three shots (or teaspoons) of Vanilla, toffee, caramel, or pure Canadian maple syrup, depending on what I fancy on the day. The maple syrup is the nicest and the most healthy, as long as it is the pure Canadian one and not some imitation (and here my anankastic personality and perfectionism comes out unfortunately!). You should try it because it ISSSS Yummy! Before starting the regime of meds for the ADHD I used to sometimes use Baileys instead of milk (or with the milk, depending on how much alcohol I wanted in the coffee), and I'm telling you it IS DEVINE! :) So for those who don't take meds, this is a very nice treat!

    I'll go to those sites and check them out... thanks again for the info and the quick response.

    Best, Steven

  6. Now you are making me really want to stop by your house!! It all sounds way too delicious.

    Thanks for the recipe tips. Tess

  7. Depends on where you are-- if you're on a tiny island called Malta, you're very welcome to stop by! :) that reminds me-- have to brew my second mug of coffee!

  8. Yep... You know the island?

  9. Hi I started taking coffee this week for adhd, seems to work the 1st 2 days and now it seems to be loosing some of its effect. How do I manage this? should i take vitamins to counteract this?

  10. You could try tea instead or alternating between the two. Make sure that you are taking B vitamins, calcium and zinc. You might also try Ginseng or Pycnogenol. Also if you are not using Krill, I would highly suggest it. Exercise helps tremendously as does green space exposure. Hope this helps! Tess

  11. my mom drinks coffee, used to drink it a lot. i tasted it once and spit it out immediately lol, i said i would never be a coffee drinker. and yet now that i realize i have ADD coffee sounds great, and even if it doesnt taste good i will drink it if it helps me get through the day or 5 hours.

    we have Hills Bro coffee i think thats the name, i dont feel like going in there to check lol. anyways how much or how many scoops do i need to get a positive effect? i will most likely only be brewing one cup at a time instead of a whole pot of coffee which i may never drink all of.

    i just posted a question on yahoo answers about if coffee helps inattentive type ADHD, and the two people answering said no, thats odd, and yet this article says yes. i really hope this article is right and not the others cause i really need something for my ADD. i cant get to a doctor so i cant get any meds. and besides i would prefer a more natural approach, i know coffee may not be the most healthiest but it beats eating junk food for the surgar all the time (what i tend to do) and then crash later. i am also drinking a combination of Ginko Biloba and Panax Ginseng for this, but from what i read it may take a few months before i actually see an improvement in my functioning, it hasnt given me the energy i need. i know i also need omega 3. what other supplements help for the long run? coffee is a short term daily fix, but i want to find what vitamins and supplements will help me over time and actually get rid of these symptoms so i wont need coffee after a while. also what foods would you recommend?

    to anyone responding since i am anon here and haven't signed up you can call me Summer, its my usual online name.


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