Is Espresso Bad For Kids & Teenagers? – At What Age To Start?

If you are like us, you probably crave that first espresso shot the first thing when you wake up. But, what happens when your kid reaches out for a sip from your cup. Is espresso bad for kids or can you let your little one enjoy a cup without worrying about any side effects?

To clarify this problem, we thoroughly researched what people have to say about this topic and compared expert instructions. Keep reading and find out if and how much espresso your kid can consume.

Should Kids Even Drink Espresso?

The reason why it’s questionable if kids can drink espresso is – caffeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption for kids. However, Canadian pediatrics professionals say the small content of caffeine is still not harmful to kids. Gathering all the recommendations of professionals, here are some basic guidelines that might help you to establish caffeine limits with your kiddo:

  • between the ages of 4 and 6, the top caffeine amount your child should consume during the day is no more than 45 mg which is equivalent to a half cup of regular coffee.
  • ages 7 to 9 – 62.5 mg per day
  • ages 10 to 12 – 85 mg per day
  • ages 12-18 – 100 mg per day

Compared with adults, the recommended amount of caffeine for them is up to 400 mg per day.

But, let us be clear, caffeine is not found only in espresso and coffee but also in:

  • caffeinated soda (37 mg per 12 fl. oz)
  • tea (48 mg per 8 fl. oz)
  • hot chocolate (10 mg per 12 fl. oz)
  • chocolate (10 to 30 mg per 1.5 oz.)
  • energy and sports drinks
  • flavored waters and juices
  • mints and chewing gums

Drinking Caffeinated Energy Drinks

Therefore, you should take care to avoid giving espresso to your kids if they’ve still consumed something from the list.

How Much Caffeine Is In Espresso?

A shot of espresso has about 63 to 65 mg of caffeine per single shot that measures 1 ounce. Now if we compare this to the caffeine intake guidelines, kids under the age of 10 should not consume espresso.

What About Espresso-Based Drinks?

The amount of caffeine in an espresso-based drink depends on how many shots of espresso you add to it. Most milk-based espresso drinks such as cappuccino, latte, and flat white contain a double shot of espresso which is too much for both kids and teenagers. However, macchiato has smaller caffeine content so kids 10 years old and older can drink it.

What Effect Does Caffeine From Espresso Have On Children?

A reaction to caffeine is dose-respondent. Since children have a much smaller body size than grown adults, it affects their functioning much more. While the true impact is not yet defined, caffeine in children can cause a variety of issues including:

  • increased anxiety levels
  • higher heart rate and blood pressure
  • strong acid reflux
  • a high obesity level
  • a noticeable sleep disturbance

Experiencing Sleep Disturbance

If your kids consume too much of it throughout the day, it can even be toxic.


While children need 8 to 12 hours of sleep every night, teenagers can function properly with 8 to 9. Since espresso has caffeine that can remain in your body for up to 8 hours, kids should not consume it anywhere near their bedtime.

Stomach Issues

Kids, as well as teenagers, need a lot of healthy nourishment to grow. Espresso can actually decrease appetite and as a result, they might experience stomach issues.


In case you drink espresso very often, your body can start to crave the kick it gets from it. Now, this can be very problematic if it happens with kids because it means that they are experiencing withdrawal.


Too many espresso shots can make you feel hyperactive and cause concentration problems, especially with kids that often have high bursts of energy.

Can Espresso Affect Concentration

Calcium & Growth

There is no evidence that caffeine from espresso can actually stunt growth in children. It could reduce the calcium absorption that children’s bones need to grow strong but this is highly unlikely to affect how the bones actually grow.

Brain Development

A child’s brain needs a good night’s sleep to function properly. So, while espresso might not affect brain development on its own, caffeine might keep your child awake during the night and as a result, your child will not be able to get through a day.

Calories & Weight Gain

While espresso on its own has very few calories and will not cause weight gain in children, adding sugar, milk, or cream to it will.

Espresso Calories And Weight Gain


Now, this is an interesting one. Caffeine in espresso can cause your child’s body to eliminate water very fast. This can result in dehydration especially if you do not make sure that your kid drinks plenty of water throughout the day.

Can Your Kid Get Addicted To Espresso?

The caffeine in espresso is not addictive per se (the way drugs are). However, this is not to say that you can not develop some sort of dependency on it, especially as a young child in the developmental phase. The WHO (World Health Organization) does recognize caffeine withdrawal symptoms as a clinical disorder. These may include:

  • headaches
  • irritability
  • fatigue

When Is The Time To Seek Medical Advice?

While espresso may not cause addiction you, and especially your child, can easily experience caffeine overdose if they consume too much of it. The most common symptoms are:

  • rapid breathing and rapid heart rate
  • jitteriness and vomiting
  • anxiety attacks and seizures

Are There Any Child-Safe Alternatives?

Most people visit their favorite coffee shops with their kids. For this reason, most coffee shops and specialized espresso bars had to think of something that appeals even to the youngest customers. And so a babyccino came to be.

A Babycchino

This drink first appeared in Australia but is now popular in New York too. It is either made by combining a shot of decaf espresso with some milk froth or a cup full of sweetened and frothed milk. Depending on the barista, they can add some chocolate or cinnamon to it.

Is Babyccino Safe For Kids?

Keep in mind that decaf does not mean that there is no caffeine in the beverage. It means that the caffeine level has been decreased to a minimum for the beverage. Moreover, some decaffeination methods include chemicals that don’t have so nice influence on health.

When To Introduce Espresso To Your Kid?

The best time to introduce espresso to your kid is after puberty. There is a very simple reason for this, at that time their bodies will be able to handle much more caffeine than they would at a younger age.

Can Teenagers Drink Espresso?

Yes, they can. While only small amounts are suitable for young teenagers, those approaching their adulthood can consume espresso (in moderation) on a daily basis.

To Wrap It Up

There you have it! Now, you know all about the way that espresso and caffeine from it affect children and young teenagers. In case your kids love espresso or just want to be “cool” like all adults, a small sip will not do them any damage. If they insist that this be a ritual you share together, you can always opt for a decaf version or just serve them a large amount of frothed sweetened milk.

As a former cook and a pastry chef, Patricia knows how to recognize fresh ingredients and appreciates their quality above all else. Her ideal day is spent at a local farmer’s market looking for the fruits, vegetables, and herbs she can combine and use to make meals for her loved ones. She is also a big coffee enthusiast and enjoys trying out different coffee brews while traveling.