What Has More Caffeine? Coffee or Red Bull?

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More*

Tired of getting tired? How about a cup of coffee? Or maybe you’d like to have the kick of Red bull instead?

For a lot of people, myself included, enjoying the sweet aroma of coffee and its delicious creamy flavour in the morning is worth waking up early for. 

But not all mornings can be as easy-going as this. When your day starts with a panic upon seeing your alarm displaying 45 minutes after it should have gone off, Red bull might be a better option.

Instant coffees are life-savers but sometimes, even heating up water takes time. As opposed to just drinking Red bull, where all you got to do is to visit the fridge.

Stay with me as I further discuss what makes these two alike and at the same time, different.

I’d like to compare coffee to a wise old village elder. It is old. And I mean, really old. It has been around for thousands of years now. While Red Bull is like a strong young man. It was created in 1987. But even if it has only been a few years, it has already gained popularity and has sold about 6.790 billion cans a year!

Wow. Imagine all those people who needed that extra energy boost.

Or should I say, imagine all those people who needed that much caffeine? Yes, the two drinks have one thing in common: caffeine. It is one of the main ingredients why these two can give us an increase in energy. 

[1] Which has more caffeine: coffee or Red Bull and how much is in each?

Caffeine is most commonly used to improve mental alertness, that’s why it is very popular with athletes. It stimulates our Central Nervous System, heart, muscles and can also increase our blood pressure. That’s what gives us a jolt in energy.

So which of these two drinks has more caffeine? Coffee or Red bull?

Mayo Clinic recommends a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Depending on the brew method or the variety, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 80 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, an 8.4-ounce of Red bull has 80 milligrams of caffeine.

That being said, we must take into consideration the effects of caffeine. Yes, it gives us an energy boost and helps our mental alertness, but too much of it is not healthy. Speaking of health, here are some comparisons between the health benefits of the two drinks:

Coffee contains antioxidants that Red bull does not possess. Furthermore, black coffee has no sugar. Whereas an 8.4-ounce Red bull contains 27 grams of sugar. However, the latter contains taurine, a naturally occurring stimulant that is vital for bodily functions.

As I have mentioned above, the maximum caffeine we must take is 400 milligrams per day only. We all know that one cup of coffee or one can of Red bull will not suffice, especially if you are a busy person. It’s up to you which drink you’ll choose for a boost in energy but keep in mind that too much of everything is bad, even if both drinks makes you want to drink more.

[2] Coffee vs sugar-free Red Bull: which has more caffeine?

Sugar-free Red Bull. Nice! As stated above, a regular Red Bull has 27 grams of sugar but now, that is eliminated. 

Here is a more specific breakdown of these drinks’ caffeine content:

Similar to the information above, a can of 8.4 fl oz of Sugar-free Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine. While in an instant coffee, there is a 63 to 90 mg of caffeine. In a filter coffee though, there is 69 to 127 mg. If there is a sugar-free Red Bull though, there is also the existence of decaffeinated coffees. These coffees only contain 4 to 12 mg.

If you are worried about the sugar content, this is your answer: Sugar-free Red Bull, especially if you are not fond of black coffee. Still, it’s up to you which one your tastebuds like better.

[3] Coffee or energy drinks to stay awake, which is better?

Had to pull an all-nighter? Feeling sleepy in the afternoon, or heck, even before the day actually starts? I feel for you. We have all been there. That is why drinks that keep our eyes from closing are like treasures. And we have a lot to choose from: coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.

If asked which is better, there are some factors that we must take into account, like who are we asking. 

Coffee is everyone’s favourite. That creamy goodness that warms you up in the morning is something everyone loves. If you are working late at night, a little trip to the kitchen for some coffee is almost an automatic reflex. Or you could just visit the fridge and open a can or a bottle of good old energy drink. However, I cannot imagine grandma looking for Red bull in the middle of the night. 

If your professor’s lecture is getting boring and sounds like a lullaby, it might help to take a sip from a cup of coffee… or not! The aroma of the coffee will only make things awkward. Imagine yourself, sitting in a class, with a tasty-smelling cup of hot coffee. Yes, the smell will keep not only you, but maybe everyone, awake… and probably hungry. In this case, it is better to have a bottle of energy drink instead. That way, you won’t attract too much attention. 

Typically, energy drinks contain sugar and caffeine. It can be carbonated or not. Depending on the brand, it also has a lot of other ingredients like ginkgo biloba, yerba mate, acai, ginseng, inositol, maltodextrin, etc. Due to its caffeine content, energy drinks boosts energy and improves our cognitive functions. Advertisements about energy drinks mostly claim to increase muscle strength and endurance, but there is not enough evidence to back this up.

Just like energy drinks, the caffeine content of coffee is what makes this drink help in keeping us awake. It’s up to your taste which you’ll pick.

[4] What are the main ingredients in Red Bull? Are they good or bad for you?

Before trying something, you must at least know what it is. Just because a friend recommended a good drink does not mean you will automatically like it too. Here are the contents of Red bull, a common energy drink among the youth, and its health benefits:

1. The ever-present, CAFFEINE. It is known for improving cognitive function and mental alertness and for giving us an energy boost but, as mentioned above, too much of it can cause a lot of unwanted effects like restlessness, increased blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia and a lot more.

2. Taurine. It is derived from the Latin word, Taurus, which means “bull.” I guess this is where Red bull got its name. It is a common ingredient in most energy drinks because it acts for the conjugation of bile acids, antioxidation, membrane stabilization, modulation of calcium signaling and osmoregulation. It is needed for the development and function of skeletal muscles, for cardiovascular function, for the retina and the central nervous system. 

3. B Vitamins (B3, B5, B6, B12). These are important in cell metabolism. 

4. Simple sugars like sucrose and glucose. Sucrose is naturally used as a preservative but glucose is the better sugar component of Red bull because it is an important energy source in all organisms. Glucose helps in our metabolism and also gives us that much needed energy jolt. 

5. In sugar-free Red bull, the sugars above are replaced with acesulfame K and aspartame/sucralose. Research shows no correlation to weight loss when these artificial sugars are consumed instead. Further studies are needed to prove that these are good alternatives to natural sweeteners. Some data even support weight gain and heart disease risks. 

I must emphasize though, that even if Red Bull contains these ingredients with their good health benefits, too much of everything is harmful. As I have read in a comic before, “Medicine is just poison in small doses.” 

[5] Should you drink coffee and energy drinks together? 

Nope. Nope. Definitely nope. That is what came to my mind the moment the thought of coffee and energy drinks be taken together.  For one, the taste may not be pleasing. Remind me to try it later to find out how it will taste like, but for the meantime, here is a really good reason why we should not drink these two together: Caffeine addiction. Both coffee and energy drinks contain lots caffeine. I don’t know where to begin about how nasty withdrawal can be. What’s worse, you can also get the following symptoms if you get an overdose of caffeine:

1. Restlessness

2. Muscle tremors

3. Increased blood pressure and heart rate

4. Feeling bloated

5. Constipation

6. Nausea

7. Dizziness

8. Fainting

9. Fever

10. Breathing problems

11. Vomiting

12. Stomach pain

13. Insomnia

So, maybe I won’t try drinking the two together, after all. But if you really want to taste the two drinks in the same day, I suggest you try them separately. Like maybe, coffee in the morning, then energy drinks in the afternoon. But always keep in mind the maximum caffeine intake: 400 mg. It’s good to satisfy one’s curiosity but looking at these adverse effects, I’d rather not. 

[8] What is 5 hour energy and how much caffeine does it have?

5 Hour Energy is a small 2 fluid ounce energy shot. It is non-carbonated and sweetened with sucralose. From the name itself, it supposedly gives you 5 hours of energy without getting tired. It also comes with a lot of different flavours like berry, grape, citrus lime, extra strength berry, decaf citrus and many more. 

Sounds a bit like a magic potion to me. And probably even to those who really need a push. Its caffeine content is what makes this possible. It would have been great if what they advertised is true.

In their ads, the Original flavour contains 200 mg of caffeine. The Extra Strength has 230 mg, while the Decaf version possesses <6 mg.

This information conflicts with what Consumer Reports found: in the Original, it actually contains 215 mg of caffeine. Extra Strength has 242 mg and finally, the Decaf, which has exactly 6 mg, not “less than” 6 mg.

Why would they lie about that, you might ask? Well, for one, they will only sell less. Not many consumers may know about the 400 mg/day limit of caffeine intake but those who do will probably not recommend this when they put the real numbers on their ads. Even more to those who are strict with their diet. Energy drinks are popular among athletes but people like those are not just healthy because they do a lot of exercise. They also eat healthy. Some may recommend 5 Hour Energy while others may not, because it is “too strong.” Even if you are misled by the false advertisement, you should still be able to feel that it has a stronger kick than what it claims to have. But if you are careless, you might just gulp it all down without thinking of the possible consequences.

In their website, they stated that the Regular Strength contains as much caffeine as a cup of premium coffee. While Extra Strength is comparable to the caffeine content of a 12 ounce premium coffee.

What a shocker, huh? Kinda makes you lose faith in humanity. But if there is anything, we all learned a lesson from false advertisements: before trying something, try to give Google a visit and see what it really is. If there are a lot of good feedbacks, then why don’t you give it a try? But if not, well, at least you were able to learn the facts before suffering the consequences.

[9] Do people die after drinking 5 hour energy?

According to reports, dating back to November 15, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration received claims that 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations over the past four years, were caused by 5 Hour Energy. Of course, its manufacturers state that these are just claims, and there is no proven link between their products and the deaths. They also stated that when taken as instructed, the caffeine won’t do any harm. 

They do have a point. There are too many factors that the links did not consider. Could the people who died simply abused the drink? Or maybe they had other health issues, like heart problems or allergies, that they just ignored when they ingested the drink? 

Other theories state that it may not be because of the high caffeine content but because of ingesting high concentrations of phenylalanine. Before I dive deeper to that theory, here are the contents of 5 Hour Energy:

  • B Vitamins (B6, B12, B9, B3)
  • Citicoline
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Taurine
  • Malic Acid
  • Caffeine
  • Glucuronolactone

Seems pretty healthy, huh? But the problem lies with the fourth ingredient listed above. See, people who have phelynketonuria (PKU), have a deficiency of an enzyme which is needed for the proper metabolism of phenylalanine, an amino acid. That might be a factor we’d like to consider about these reported deaths too. 

Further investigation and maybe, studies, are needed to prove these claims. But if you ask me, 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations are a lot. If ever you will take the risk and try 5 Hour Energy, make sure that you do not abuse it. And more importantly, do not abuse your health. If you feel sleepy, then perhaps the best thing to do is to sleep. Do not force your body to perform tasks by simply introducing temporary stimulants and energy boosters.