According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 12 milligrams of caffeine. This is approximately one-eighth the amount of caffeine contained in an 8-ounce cup of coffee.
Lower caffeine levels can be found in unsweetened cocoa powder processed with alkali, a product that contains 4 milligrams of caffeine per tablespoon. Alkali treatment is also referred to as the Dutching process, a technique that darkens cocoa while reducing its bitterness and increasing its ability to disperse in various media. This process affects the nutritional content of cocoa, decreasing caffeine levels, flavanols and polyphenol content.