Caffeine: Source Matters

coffee fruit growing

Caffeine is our thing. Coffee is a delicious beverage that makes us savor every sip, of course, but caffeine is one of the main reasons we love coffee so much. It energizes us, it helps us get going in the morning, and it puts us in a better mood. In fact, we’ve talked before about how caffeine is actually very healthy for you, and how caffeine and exercise go so well together. 

Today’s article is dedicated to caffeine. See, you regularly don’t see people make distinctions when it comes to caffeine; there’s simply caffeine, and that’s it. But that’s not the case. If that were the case, people wouldn’t drink coffee but simply take a caffeine pill. 

But not all caffeine is created equal. Let’s go over all the sources of caffeine out there and how caffeine is different depending on where you get it from. 

 

Caffeine Sources

 

Coffee

Let’s start with the most familiar one. Coffee is the most important source of caffeine out there. Caffeine, when ingested through coffee, has been proven to augment physical performance, alertness, and so on. 

Coffee is also a notably safe source of caffeine. Caffeine is toxic when taken at doses over 10 grams; a cup of coffee contains, at most, 350 mg of caffeine. That would mean that you’d have to drink almost thirty cups for it to be toxic. 

Arabica coffee is an okay source of caffeine, with around 100 -175 mg of caffeine per cup. Robusta is a much better source of caffeine, at 300 - 350 mg per cup. 

 

 black tea

Tea

True tea is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis shrub. Herbal infusions, and such, don’t count as tea and they do not contain any caffeine.  

Most teas, such as black, oolong, and green tea contain more caffeine than coffee per dry weight. And yet, since the amount of tea we use to brew a cup is very little, the resulting amount in a cup is underwhelming. A cup of tea tends to have around 50 mg per cup, making it inferior to coffee in this respect. 

Although very low in caffeine, tea does contain L-theanine, an amino acid which helps people relax and focus. This means that this substance can offset some of the side effects of caffeine in certain people. 

 

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is an ancient drink from South American natives. The tradition, as well as the beverage, is still very much alive in South America, most notably in Argentina and Paraguay, where you can find dozens of different yerba mate brands in supermarkets. 

Yerba Mate is essentially a mix of many different herbs. The main one is the Illex Paraguayan herb, which is rich in caffeine. 

Because each manufacturer includes different quantities of this herb, it’s hard to tell how much caffeine a certain yerba mate contains. Paraguayan and Argentinian laws do not require them to state how much caffeine their products contain. Therefore, a cup of yerba mate can range anywhere from 60 to 120 mg of caffeine. All in all, it is a decent, all-natural source of caffeine. 

In terms of taste, it is very bitter and hard to drink. 

 

Soft Drinks 

Soft drinks, particularly dark ones like coke and pepsi, contain caffeine. On the other hand, clear soft drinks tend not to have any caffeine. 

When it comes to the amount of caffeine in them, soft drinks are more or less on par with tea and coffee. Quantities vary, but they rarely exceed 100 mg per serving, except for some energy drinks. 

It is important to note that soft drinks contain synthetic caffeine. This is very concentrated and can be potentially harmful to your health. Synthetic caffeine glows in the dark and has to be treated with chemicals to make this go away—in the end, synthetic caffeine is a very processed substance. We can’t be 100% certain of how pure or safe it is. 

 

Guaraná

Guaraná is the name of a plant native to Brazil which, like the coffee plant, produces red berries which contain seeds that themselves contain a high concentration of caffeine. In the case of guaraná, the seeds contain twice the amount of caffeine of coffee seeds.

Although this is true, guaraná is not suited for consumption in the way that coffee is because of its general taste and aroma. While powdered guaraná is popular in holistic culture because of it being an all-natural caffeine source, there are very few guaraná beverages. 

Instead, guaraná extract is available around the world, but it is hard to say how safe or reliable these products are regarding their caffeine content. 

Some guaraná products might be too high in caffeine and therefore potentially harmful. As a source of caffeine, guaraná extract or powder is relatively unsafe. 

 

Conclusion

Although there are plenty of caffeine sources out there for us to choose from, none can equal coffee in caffeine content. A cup of coffee is superior in caffeine content to most other natural sources of caffeine. 

More importantly, coffee also comes out on top when it comes to flavour. Just by looking at coffee consumption worldwide, most people around the world would rather drink a cup of coffee than a cup of tea, yerba mate or a glass of any soft drink. 

Our advice? Stick to coffee for your daily dose of caffeine!


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