Which Has More Caffeine: Coffee or Soda?

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Hunting for that ultimate caffeine boost? Whether you’re Team Coffee™ or Team Soda®, it’s essential to know where the real kick lies. Naturally present in coffee beans, caffeine counteracts drowsiness, leading to an energizing, mood-lifting surge.

In the grand caffeine showdown: an 8-ounce coffee typically packs around 95 milligrams, while a 12-ounce soda delivers about 30-40 milligrams. Yet, factors like preparation and brand can shift these numbers. Dive in with us to uncover the full story.

A Steaming Hot Cup Of Coffee On A Saucer, Surrounded By Coffee Beans

Decoding Caffeine: How it Works & Its Effects

Caffeine’s probably been in your mouth, in some form – be it in your coffee, tea, soda, or chocolate. It’s a natural stimulant that affects your central nervous system, increasing alertness and reducing fatigue. But how does it work?

Caffeine’s mechanism of action involves blocking the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. By doing so, it creates a sense of alertness and wakefulness.

The effects of caffeine can differ greatly depending on an individual’s sensitivity, the amount consumed, and the method of consumption. For most adults, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily (about 4 cups of coffee) is considered safe.

That said, people’s sensitivity to caffeine varies. While some can drink a lot of caffeine without negative effects, others may experience side effects such as anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia even at lower doses.

When comparing caffeine content, coffee usually takes the lead. An average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, a 12-ounce can of soda typically contains between 30 and 40 milligrams of caffeine.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate.
  2. It increases alertness by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine.
  3. Caffeine effects vary based on sensitivity and amount consumed.
  4. Up to 400 mg of caffeine daily (about 4 cups of coffee) is typically safe.
  5. Some people experience side effects like anxiety at lower doses.
  6. An 8-ounce coffee cup has about 95 mg of caffeine.
  7. A 12-ounce soda contains 30 to 40 mg of caffeine.

Caffeine in Coffee: A Quick Guide

Caffeine is a central component of coffee and is the sole reason most of us drink it.

Old Lady Yawning While She Drinks Her Coffee
Mama needs her coffee

How Much Caffeine is in Different Coffee Types?

  • Drip or Filtered: An 8-ounce cup typically contains around 95 mg of caffeine.
  • Espresso: A standard 1-ounce shot has about 64 mg.
  • Instant: For an 8-ounce serving, it’s usually between 30 to 90 mg.
  • Decaf: Even though it’s decaffeinated, an 8-ounce cup can have 2 to 5 mg.
  • French Press: An 8-ounce pour typically ranges from 80 to 135 mg.
  • Cold Brew: An 8-ounce serving can vary, but often sits between 100 to 200 mg.
Beverage (12 oz)Caffeine Content (mg)
Espresso (1 oz)64
drip coffee95
French Press135
Instant Coffee90
Cold Brew207
Caffeine Content In Typical Types Of Coffee
Caffeine mg: 10 oz Drip, 1 oz Espresso, 10 oz Instant

Note: These are averages, and actual caffeine content can vary based on various factors. Always be informed about your intake.

It’s important to note that these are just averages, and the actual caffeine content can vary depending on the factors mentioned above. Additionally, some types of coffee can have much higher caffeine contents than these averages1.

Factors Affecting Caffeine Content in Coffee

The caffeine content in coffee can be influenced by several elements:

  • Type of Coffee Bean: Different types of coffee beans can have different caffeine contents. For example, Robusta (take longer to grow) coffee beans typically have more caffeine than Arabica beans.
  • Roasting Process: The longer coffee beans are roasted, the less caffeine they contain. This means that darker roasts generally have less caffeine than lighter roasts.
  • Brewing Method: The brewing method can also affect the caffeine content of coffee. For example, espresso has more caffeine per ounce vs regular coffee.

Understanding these factors can help you gauge the caffeine content in your cup.

Caffeine in Soda: A Quick Guide

According to a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the average caffeine content in soda is around 29 milligrams per 12-ounce serving. But, this can vary widely depending on the brand and flavor of soda.

A Woman Drinking Coca Cola
Brown, fizzy gold.

Some sodas may contain as little as 5 milligrams of caffeine per serving, while others may contain as much as 70 milligrams or more. 

Here are some examples of the caffeine content in popular brands of soda:

Caffeine Content In Soda
Caffeine content per 10 ounce serving of the top 5 most popular sodas

Factors Influencing Caffeine Content in Soda

Here are some of the most important factors that can influence the caffeine content of soda:

  • Brand: Different brands of soda may use different amounts of caffeine in their products.
  • Flavor: Some flavors may contain other ingredients that can enhance or mask the effects of caffeine (I’m calling you out, Mountain Dew!).
  • Serving Size: Larger servings of soda will contain more caffeine than smaller servings.

The Showdown: Coffee Vs Soda

In this section, we’ll compare coffee and soda in terms of their caffeine content, potential health benefits, and drawbacks.

1. Caffeine Content

On average, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine. A 12-ounce can of soda usually contains about 30-40 milligrams of caffeine. 

2. Health Benefits

Coffee has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for human health, with research suggesting that drinking it can reduce the risk of stroke, liver cancer, and liver disease.

Additionally, studies indicate that coffee consumption may be associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and may also provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

Soda, on the other hand, has been linked to an increased risk of obesity2, type 2 diabetes3, and other health problems4. (these citations are top-notch)

Coffee Vs Soda 001
Soda packs a decent punch of caffeine

3. Bad Stuff

While coffee and soda can provide a quick boost of energy, they also have some drawbacks. Drinking too much coffee can lead to jitters, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. It may also cause dehydration and stomach problems in some people.

Soda is high in sugar and calories. Drinking too much soda can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and other health problems. It may also increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Health Implications of Caffeine Intake

While caffeine can provide a temporary boost of energy and improve mental alertness, excessive caffeine intake can lead to negative health consequences.

Positive Effects of Caffeine

Moderate caffeine intake has been associated with several health benefits. Caffeine can improve cognitive function, increase metabolism, and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Research has shown that caffeine can improve memory, attention, and reaction time. Caffeine has also been found to increase metabolism, which can aid in weight loss efforts.

Additionally, studies have suggested that moderate caffeine intake may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and certain types of cancer.

Negative Effects of Caffeine

While moderate caffeine intake can have positive effects, excessive caffeine intake can lead to negative health consequences. Excessive caffeine intake can cause insomnia, nervousness, and restlessness. It can also lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and dehydration.

Individuals who consume large amounts of caffeine may also experience gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux and stomach ulcers.

Additionally, pregnant women who drink 8 or more cups of coffee per day are at a 50% higher risk of suffering a stillbirth.

Drink more than this and you die

The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is roughly the equivalent of four cups of brewed coffee.

Key Takeaways

  • Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in many plants that can increase alertness and improve mood.
  • Coffee generally has more caffeine than soda, with a typical 8-ounce cup of coffee containing about 95 milligrams of caffeine and a 12-ounce can of soda containing about 30-40 milligrams of caffeine.
  • The amount of caffeine in coffee and soda can vary depending on factors such as the type of coffee or soda and the method of preparation.


Coffee has significantly more caffeine than soda, with 95 milligrams per 8-ounce cup and 30-40 milligrams in a 12-ounce can of soda, respectively. Those looking for a highly caffeinated drink should choose coffee, while those wanting to limit caffeine intake should opt for soda.

However, it is important to remember that too much caffeine can have negative side effects, and both coffee and soda should be consumed in moderation. The choice ultimately comes down to personal preference and health goals.


  1. https://www.verywellfit.com/caffeine-content-of-coffee-722600 ↩︎
  2. https://www.uclahealth.org/news/drinking-soda-linked-to-many-adverse-health-conditions ↩︎
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9991753/ ↩︎
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/drinks.html ↩︎
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.