Coffee vs. Energy Drinks: Which Is Better For Your Health?

Being a morning person was never in the cards for me. To leave the sweet embrace of dreams and sleeping, just to wake up and have to start the day?

Yeah, no.

Plenty of people, like myself, are also not proud proponents of the morning, and usually have something in place to give them that extra kick needed to start the day off on the right foot.

Some work out to get the blood pumping. Some fix a hearty breakfast. And some (or a lot of people) drink caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or energy drinks.

One cup of joe, or a can of an energy drink, and you’re up and at ‘em, backed by a sudden surge of energy. But when both of these happen to be a staple in a lot of people’s daily routines, sooner or later a question of health comes up.

Which one is the superior booster when it comes to health? 


Why Do We Drink These?

Before we get into picking a side and claiming “team coffee” or “team energy drink,” we should at least know what it is behind the two that makes us consume them in the first place.

The answer?

Caffeine, to be concise. 

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that directly affects the central nervous system. It’s the main ingredient in coffee and energy drinks that wakes your brain up, makes it easier to be more focused and alert, and gives you that sweet, sweet boost of energy.

Although your average serving of whichever beverage you prefer usually comes with a safe amount for consumption, consuming too much caffeine can pose a risk. If you love to sleep, too much caffeine can throw your sleep patterns out of whack, as well as increasing your heart rate beyond comfortable levels.

It’s also recommended that you don’t ingest more than 400 grams of caffeine a day.

Round 1: Sugar

Now that we know what the main ingredient is, it is time to take a look at the other components that come into play.

One notable ingredient that can be found in just about everything nowadays is sugar. Sugar can be found in both drinks, but it is practically guaranteed to be found in every can of energy drink that you pick up. On average, one single can of Red Bull can contain 26 grams of sugar.

But what if you wanted to get a nice, tall can of Monster? Well, that one can is going to contain around 54 grams of sugar.

And for the record, it is recommended that the average adult consume no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar. One tablespoon equals 4.2 grams.

Now by itself, a can of Monster can’t hurt…. if that’s going to be the only thing with sugar that you drink/eat that day. But one on a daily basis? Maybe more than one per day on a daily basis?

Yeah, that’s not healthy in the long term.

On the other hand, coffee can have as much or as little sugar as you desire, but the difference is that you can control how much sugar you have in your joe. Coffee by itself doesn’t contain any sugar, so round one can go to coffee in terms of sugar content. 

Round 2: Calories

Calories, one of the most popular sources of energy.

We get calories from the foods and drinks that we consume, and when it comes to coffee and energy drinks, there’s a clear winner between the two in regards to health.


In your average serving of coffee, you’re not going to have any more than maybe five calories per cup. But keep in mind that’s before you start dressing your drink up with your additions like milk and cream.

On the other side of the fence, you’re sure to find around 110 calories in just one can of Monster. If calories are a measurement of energy you get from your food, it’s easy to understand why you would go with energy drinks over coffee.

But we’re going for health here, and the calories you get from one can of Monster aren’t the same as you’d get from a bowl of fruit or a well-rounded meal. They’re not coming from the healthiest source. They’re actually what dieticians consider “empty calories” meaning void of any healthy nutrients.

Round 3: Side Ingredients

When you pick up a bag of coffee to make your morning cups, you’re getting a pretty straightforward list of ingredients, as well as a natural helping of beneficial vitamins, such as B2, V5, potassium, niacin, and magnesium.

Coffee doesn’t come packed with a bunch of extra additives and preservatives like a lot of other drinks, which is always a plus for the shopper who wants to watch their diet closely.

Energy drinks, however, usually come with a wide variety of extra ingredients. That’s not to say that they don’t come with something at least semi-healthy, because ginseng and taurine are present in almost all of them. But there’s also a bunch of other completely non-healthy ingredients, so that doesn’t exactly balance out the ginseng. 

In this case, coffee is the winner for side ingredients.


Since we’re taking a look at these drinks through the lens of health, the clear winner in this bout is coffee.

Energy drinks are great for a quick burst of energy, but for the long term, they tend to do more harm than good.

You’re not going to get a bunch of extra sugar, extra calories, and extra side ingredients when it comes to coffee, unless that’s what you choose to do to your drink. All of this assumes that you’ve made the coffee yourself in your kitchen, because we all know that the amount of sugar and other ingredients in a fancy starbucks drink can be off the charts.

All you’re getting in a plain cup of coffee is a natural amount of vitamins and caffeine that, in the long term, is healthier for you than an energy drink.