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Caffeine in Coffee vs Soda: Which Has Higher Content?

Nothing is worse than sitting through long lectures or meetings, especially first thing in the morning or right after lunch. Those drooping eyelids and telltale nod are sure signs you need some caffeine.

Between the vending machine sodas and breakroom drip coffee, which one will get you through that 3-hour meeting? Which drink has more caffeine? The quick and short answer? Coffee has 3 times more caffeine than soda. Keep reading to find out the difference in caffeine in coffee vs soda.

What Is Caffeine Anyway?

Caffeine is a natural compound found in tea, coffee, and chocolate. It is a common additive in sodas, snacks, and supplements. Its natural form resembles a white powder and is bitter in taste.

As a stimulant, caffeine affects the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord (1). While most people eat or drink food or beverages containing caffeine for increased alertness and wakefulness, what caffeine does to your body goes way beyond that.

It has many health benefits, according to Medical News Today (2):

Caffeine may boost weight loss …possibly by suppressing the appetite…[and] stimulating thermogenesis…

In other words, caffeine may increase your metabolic rate by creating a caloric deficit through appetite suppression and increasing the calories you burn by producing more body heat during digestion.

In addition to helping you stay awake and alert, caffeine also improves concentration and memory. In moderate doses, it also improves physical endurance in sports and may help prevent cognitive decline. Not only will you be more alert throughout the day, you may even find yourself doing better work.

Caffeine in Soda vs Coffee

While most of us know that coffee contains caffeine, popular sodas, like Coke, contain caffeine, too. In fact, caffeine is one of the ingredients crucial to the iconic taste we all know and love (3).

So, which beverage has more caffeine? Let’s take a look at Coke and coffee side-by-side.

caffeine in coffee vs soda

Coffee

Determining the amount of caffeine in coffee can be complicated because different coffee drinks have varying caffeine content. Caffeine content is impacted by brew method, beverage size, and type of coffee.

If you measure caffeine content by volume, espresso has the highest concentration

A 1-ounce shot of espresso contains around 75 mg of caffeine. So your typical 12-ounce latte with a double shot of espresso has about 150 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, drip coffee only contains about 18 mg of caffeine per ounce, but we usually drink it in larger quantities. A 12-ounce drip coffee has around 216 mg of caffeine – much more than the latte. 

Soda

Now, here’s a much easier comparison:

Theoretically, because of soda’s lower caffeine content, you can have more of them throughout the day while staying within the guidelines for safe levels of caffeine, which is around 400 mg per day. However, unlike regular drip coffee, soda contains almost ten teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce can. This makes coffee the healthier and more caffeinated choice.

But sometimes, you just want to have your cake and eat it too. How about a great coffee soda to round out your day? Watch this clip to see how you can make some delicious coffee soda at home.

The Verdict

Whether you enjoy pour-overs, French presses, drip coffees, or espresso, our brief comparison shows that coffee will almost always contain more caffeine than the average soda. While a 12-ounce can of Coke contains 34 mg of caffeine, a 12-ounce drip coffee will have 216 mg of caffeine.

Moreover, since regular, unsweetened coffee has many antioxidants and no added sugars, it’s better for you, too.

Which single-origin bean or coffee blend are you brewing for your daily caffeine fix? Let us know in the comments below or our Home Grounds Facebook group.

FAQs

Yes, drinking coffee is better than soda. It has more caffeine per ounce, more antioxidants, and no added sugar. This means you can enjoy the caffeine boost without worrying about the negative health effects of excess sugar consumption.

No, Mountain Dew does not have more caffeine than coffee. Each 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew only has 54 mg of caffeine, compared to 216 mg of caffeine in a cup of drip coffee of the same size.

Yes, the caffeine in coffee is the same as in soda. Caffeine always refers to a specific chemical compound. However, the caffeine in soda is an additive, while the caffeine in coffee is naturally-occurring.

No, teas aren’t stronger than black tea. Black tea contains ~47mg of caffeine per 8 oz. Green tea, on the other hand, can contain 30 to 40 mg.

  1. Central nervous system (CNS). (2021, August 25). Healthdirect.gov.au; Healthdirect Australia. Retrieved from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/central-nervous-system
  2. Nichols, H. (2017, October 16). What does caffeine do to your body? Medicalnewstoday.com; Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285194#benefits
  3. Coca-Cola Company. (n.d.). What is Caffeine? Retrieved from https://www.coca-colacompany.com/faqs/what-is-caffeine
Iris M. Pang
One of my first childhood memories of coffee was in Montreal, Quebec. Every time my family and I walked through the mall, the aroma of fresh, brewed coffee and Belgian waffles permeated all the stores. Whatever that delicious smell was, I had to have it. And the rest is history. When I'm not writing or touring local coffee shops, you'll find me on social media, trying out different ethnic cuisine at local restaurants, and having deep discussions over coffee and pastries.

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