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How Different Drinks Compare in Caffeine Levels

by Anindita Rajesh

For many college students, it is challenging to get enough sleep before powering through hours of classes. In turn, students often rely on caffeine to carry them through the day. While coffee often comes to mind, there are many other ways to get a quick burst of caffeine during the day.


Coffee is definitely one of the most common sources of caffeine. This is likely because it has such a high naturally occurring caffeine content and is also easily accessible. Coffee can be consumed in a variety of ways: black coffee, a latte or just a shot of espresso. For me, making a cup of coffee with caramel almond milk creamer is the perfect start to my day, since it is simple, but not as bitter as a cup of black coffee.

“Making an espresso each morning is my favorite way to wake up,” Ryan Lane (CAS ’22) said. “The brew process gets my brain and body moving, and drinking it is the perfect quick burst of flavor and caffeine that can keep me going all day.”

Spoon University classifies espresso as a more concentrated form of coffee, which can be consumed either on its own, in a small amount, or in a coffee beverage, like the kinds we often order at coffee shops as lattes or cappuccinos.


As a form of more subtle caffeination, tea is a popular alternative. However, not all types of tea contain caffeine. For example, herbal teas—such as chamomile or peppermint—contain no caffeine, and can help you relax and unwind at night. My roommate and I usually end our days with a cup of green tea, which contains some caffeine, but doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on us, especially in such a small amount. On the other hand, teas such as black tea and matcha contain high levels of caffeine, and are perfect for the start of a day, especially for those who don’t enjoy the taste of coffee. Teas in general, however, typically contain less caffeine than a standard cup of coffee.

Yerba Mate

Recently, Yerba Mate has made its way on the list of popular caffeinated beverages.

“My favorite way to stay caffeinated and energized is Yerba Mate, a light and refreshing South American brewed tea,” Jackie Li (Questrom ’22) said. “Yerba Mate has a deep-rooted cultural meaning and is usually served in a gourd to be shared with friends, but you can get a can at your local grocery store. I would recommend the brand Guayaki, a super sustainable and cool company that values social responsibility.”

The caffeine content of Yerba Mate can vary from brand to brand, changing based on the way it's prepared. Yerba Mate is much more caffeinated than other teas, and some brands even contain more caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Boston University students can pick up a Yerba Mate at many nearby locations, including CityCo, Target and Whole Foods.


For some quick doses of caffeine to power you through a couple long hours, snacks like dark chocolate and protein bars offer a burst of energy that’s perfect for the middle of the day.


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