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Coffee vs. Energy Drinks: Which Works Best?

Coffee vs. Energy Drinks: Which Works Best?

When you're waking up early in the morning or facing that afternoon slump, what's your typical go-to source of energy: coffee or an energy drink?

If you're searching for the beverage that will provide you with the most amount of energy as well as the best health benefits, keep reading! We’ll compare these two popular energy boosters side by side.


Coffee vs Energy Drinks

Compared to coffee, energy drinks are commonly viewed in a negative light. While energy beverages are banned from most school campuses, coffee drinks are tolerated. In fact, a high school in North Carolina recently opened a student-run coffee shop. Are the unequal attitudes towards these popular drinks justified?

Energy drink fans will argue no, as just a single ounce of a typical energy beverage has 10mg of Caffeine, while a single ounce of coffee contains 18mg. But, what’s really in an energy drink, anyways? Let’s dive deeper...

Energy Drinks

Energy Drinks

The title "energy drink" is a common name for many kinds of beverages that are specially created to provide consumers with additional energy.

These popular energy beverages might contain the following ingredients:

  • Caffeine

  • Taurine

  • L-Carnitine

  • Guarana extract

  • Gluconolactone

  • B vitamins

When comparing one popular energy drink to another, you may see the very same ingredients listed. On the other hand, the flavor difference is made up of all sorts of sugars, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors that are added to the drink. These sugars, in conjunction with the added Caffeine, provide the desired energy boost.

From students to parents, and everyone in between, energy drinks have gained widespread popularity all over the world for their ability to provide a quick jolt of energy.



Pure coffee has one ingredient: coffee beans. However, if you order a Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks, obviously, this ingredient list is going to expand. Coffee also contains healthy nutrients such as niacin, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B2 and B5. Black coffee also has no calories.

A cup of joe can be strengthened or weakened according to your personal taste. This means you have much more control over how you want your refreshment to taste, and how strong you want your brew to be.

Additionally, you also control what other ingredients can be put into your cup of coffee. If you're looking to limit sugar from your diet, you don't have to include it in your drink. If you're lactose intolerant, you can add a dash of soy milk rather than whole milk.

With coffee, you are usually in total control of what you're drinking.


What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant. When ingested, it can help your brain become more alert and attentive - this is what causes the energy boost after guzzling down your favorite energy drink or a cup of coffee.

While Caffeine is beneficial in giving you both energy and focus, too much Caffeine can disrupt your sleep patterns and cause jitters and anxiousness. It's recommended that a healthy adult does not consume more than 400mg of Caffeine per day.


How Much Caffeine is in A Cup Of Coffee?

This greatly depends on the size of the cup of coffee you are consuming. For instance, a grande cup of Starbucks coffee contains approximately 225mg of Caffeine. However, a grande cup holds approximately 16-ounces, which is double the size of an average cup of joe. In reality, you would probably have to drink around four regular-sized cups of coffee to reach 400 mg of Caffeine per day. On average, a regular cup of coffee (8 fl. oz) usually has around 80-100mg of Caffeine.


How Much Caffeine is in An Energy Drink?

While this greatly depends on the energy drink brand, the most common energy drinks found at gas stations and convenience stores have around 80 mg of Caffeine per regular 8.4 fl oz can. This means that a cup of coffee will typically contain more Caffeine. However, not all products are created equally! Proper Wild for example, provides 2 times more Caffeine than a shot of espresso.

What About Sugar?

Sugar is arguably the most addicting and over-used substance on the market. Consumers add it to their tea, bake it into their favorite treats, and pour it over their morning breakfast cereals. From peanut butter to marinara, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products.

Keeping an eye on the amount of sugar you consume each day is extremely important. Too much sugar can lead to obesity and many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.

With that in mind, let's explore the relationship between sugar, energy drinks, and coffee...



While you may decide to put a few teaspoons of sugar in your cup, the coffee itself is sugar-free. As we mentioned a little earlier, with coffee, you can adjust the sweetness according to your personal taste, as well as your sugar intake! And if you happen to be someone who enjoys a strong cup of black coffee, you may decide to skip the sugar altogether.


Energy Drinks

Energy drinks tend to have a bad reputation because of the sugar content. Just one can of the leading energy drink contains 26 grams of sugar while another popular brand contains 54 grams. This works out to 14 whopping teaspoons of sugar, which is well over the daily recommended amount.

While sugar may have some benefits, having too much can result in a sugar crash, leaving you feeling tired and groggy, and most likely with a massive headache.

The good news is that there are some really great energy products on the market that contain absolutely no added sugar! Take Proper Wild’s plant-based energy shots, for example. These powerful energy shots contain 0g added sugar, which is very rare to find in an energy drink. Despite their lack of added sugars, they are still sweet from the natural and organic juices that give them their flavor. This means no sugar crash!


What About Calories?

A high amount of calories in a food or beverage doesn't necessarily mean it's unhealthy - your body needs calories to function properly, after all. However, it's good to keep in mind where you're getting your calories from, as you should seek out filling, wholesome sources.

A typical cup of coffee has no calories. But, if you're someone that likes to add all the fixings like sugar, cream, and flavoring, the number of calories will quickly add up. For example, a tall 12 fl.oz Caramel Frappuccino contains almost 200 calories, which mainly comes from all the added sugar.

The calories found in energy drinks tend to vary as well. There are products on the market that have as many as 450 calories per serving, and there are products on the market that have zero calories per serving.

If you prefer an energy drink over a cup of coffee, try to avoid the beverages high in calories.

Stick with clean energy drinks containing no added sugar, no preservatives, and very minimal calories.

In Conclusion

So, which works best - coffee or energy drinks? The answer is: it depends. 
Energy drinks are a great choice, but not all products are created equal. 
For example, when you compare a cup of black coffee to an energy drink containing 54 grams of sugar, coffee is a better choice.

However, when you're comparing coffee to a clean energy shot like Proper Wild, energy drinks are the way to go! With twice the amount of caffeine as coffee, it’s sure to power you through your day!

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