Red Bull vs Coffee – A Head-to-Head Comparison

Photo of author

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you purchase using these links.

In today’s high-speed life, energy is non-negotiable. It’s Red Bull vs. coffee—the titans of pick-me-ups. But which reigns supreme? We’ll put them to the test, focusing on energy impact, health factors, taste, and convenience. Stay tuned!

The science behind energy drinks and coffee

Understanding the energy kick from Red Bull and coffee requires a peek into the science of these beverages. Both are stimulant-packed, delivering a jolt of energy, yet with distinct compositions impacting the body differently.

Red Bull is a blend of caffeine, taurine, B-vitamins, and sugar, designed to stimulate the central nervous system, elevate alertness, and sharpen cognitive function. Here, caffeine acts as the stimulant, taurine supports cardiovascular function, and B-vitamins aid in energy metabolism.

An Overly Caffeinated Young Woman Holding A Mug Of Coffee
Coffee packs a punch!

On the flip side, coffee’s power comes from roasted coffee beans with caffeine as its star player. Caffeine here works by blocking adenosine1, a neurotransmitter promoting sleep and relaxation, thereby increasing alertness and reducing fatigue. So, whether it’s a can or a cup, now you know what’s revving your energy engine.

Red Bull: Ingredients, effects & Benefits

Red Bull doesn’t taste…good. But our society drinks it, regardless. Teenagers. Twenty-and-thirty-somethings immersed in the nightlife drinking Vodka + Redbulls. And me–a guy in his 40s. All this is to say, that the drink that spawned the energy-drink craze isn’t going anywhere soon.

Why? Because it works. It jolts you to attention vis a vis a blend of ingredients designed to enhance both physical and mental energy. Here’s a closer examination of its ingredients and their effects, as well as the good stuff and the bad stuff related to drinking Red Bull:


  1. Caffeine: Boosts alertness and fights fatigue2.
  2. Taurine: Aims to improve performance and heart function3.
  3. B-Vitamins: Help convert food into energy.
  4. Sucrose and Glucose: It’s that sugar, baby! Provides energy.
  5. Other Ingredients: Includes citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, plus natural and artificial flavors4.


  1. Improved Cognitive Performance: Red Bull has been associated with improved cognitive performance including better reaction time, concentration, and reduced mental fatigue​5.
  2. Physical Endurance: The blend of ingredients in Red Bull can also aid in improving physical endurance, making it a popular choice among athletes and those engaging in sports activities6.
  3. Energy Boost: The stimulant properties of caffeine, along with the energy derived from sugars and B-vitamins, contribute to the energy boost provided by Red Bull.
Ingredients In Red Bull
Ingredients in Red Bull


  1. Reduced Fatigue: The combination of caffeine and taurine helps in reducing fatigue, making the individual feel more awake and alert​.
  2. Enhanced Cognitive Function: Red Bull can enhance cognitive functions like memory and reaction time.


  1. Sugar Content: Red Bull contains a significant amount of sugar, which could contribute to increased caloric intake if consumed in high quantities.
  2. Caffeine Content: Although caffeine can give you a quick energy boost, it might not be enough for some people. Drinking too much caffeine can cause problems like trouble sleeping or feeling jittery.

Coffee Types & caffeine content

Coffee is a versatile drink with many types and caffeine levels, and it can have several health benefits when enjoyed in reasonable amounts. Here’s the information breakdown:

Types of Coffee and Caffeine Content:

  1. Arabica Beans:
    • Caffeine content per 8-ounce cup: 200 mg
    • Caffeine content per 1-ounce Espresso shot: 40 mg
    • Arabica beans are known for their sweet and fruity flavor profile, and are a popular choice among coffee drinkers.
  2. Robusta Beans:
    • Caffeine content per 8-ounce cup: 360 mg
    • Caffeine content per 1-ounce Espresso shot: 72 mg
    • Robusta beans have a strong and bitter taste, with a higher caffeine content compared to Arabica.
  3. Liberica Beans:
    • Caffeine content per 8-ounce cup: 152 mg
    • Caffeine content per 1-ounce Espresso shot: 30 mg
    • Liberica beans are less common and have a smoky flavor.
  4. Decaffeinated:
    • Caffeine content per 8-ounce cup: 8–14 mg
    • Decaf coffee still contains some caffeine, albeit in much lower amounts.
  5. Varieties:
    • Coffee beans have sub-varieties, hybrids, and mutations, and the caffeine content can also be influenced by the brewing method and roast level. For instance, longer brewing times can extract more caffeine from the beans.

Coffee’s caffeine levels vary based on bean type, brewing method, and brand. Be aware of these differences, especially if you’re caffeine-sensitive.

Red Bull vs Coffee: Energy boost and productivity

When it comes to an energy boost and increased productivity, both Red Bull and coffee have their advantages. Red Bull provides a quick and potent energy boost due to its high caffeine content and added ingredients.

Redbull Ingredients Infographic
Red Bull

The combination of caffeine, taurine, and B-vitamins in Red Bull can help increase alertness, improve focus, and enhance physical performance.

Coffee, on the other hand, offers a more gradual and sustained energy boost. The caffeine in coffee is released slowly into the bloodstream, providing a longer-lasting effect compared to the rapid surge of energy from Red Bull.

This sustained energy boost from coffee can help improve cognitive function, increase productivity, and promote mental alertness throughout the day.

Energy And Productivity Metrics

Red Bull vs Coffee: Side effects and risks

While both Red Bull and coffee can give you an energy boost, it’s crucial to think about the possible downsides and risks linked to consuming these drinks.

Red Bull, because of its high caffeine levels and added ingredients, can lead to side effects like a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, jitters, and trouble sleeping.

Similarly, excessive coffee intake can also result in restlessness, an elevated heart rate, digestive problems, and difficulty getting a good night’s sleep.

Red Bull vs Coffee: Cost comparison

In terms of cost, Red Bull tends to be pricier per serving than coffee. Coffee provides more flexibility in cost since you can brew it at home or buy it at various price points from coffee shops. Here’s a cost breakdown:

  1. Red Bull:
    • Cost per serving: $1.81 (USD) for one can (usually 8.4 ounces)7.
  2. Starbucks Tall Drip Coffee:
    • Cost per serving: The price seems to range from $1.85 to $1.89 (USD) for one Tall size (12 ounces)8.
  3. Starbucks Double Shot of Espresso:
    • Cost per serving: Between $2.75 – $3.00 (USD) for one double shot (2 ounces)​.
Cost Comparison Per Serving Colored 1

Red Bull vs Coffee: Taste and preferences

When it comes to taste, Red Bull has a unique flavor often noted as sweet with a slight acidity. It’s a matter of personal preference; some find it refreshing, while others might perceive it as overly potent or artificial.

In contrast, coffee boasts a diverse array of flavors determined by factors like bean type, roast level, and brewing method. Whether you prefer a bold, robust cup or a smoother, fruity blend, coffee offers a spectrum of taste options.

Comparison Table: Red Bull Energy Drink vs Coffee

CriteriaRed BullCoffee
Primary IngredientsCaffeine, Taurine, B-Vitamins, SugarsCaffeine (amount varies by type and brew)
EffectsQuick Energy Boost, Improved Cognitive and Physical PerformanceGradual and Sustained Energy Boost, Improved Cognitive and Physical Performance
BenefitsReduced Fatigue, Enhanced Cognitive FunctionReduced Risk of Certain Diseases, Antioxidant Properties, Potential Longevity Benefits
DisadvantagesHigh Sugar Content, Potential for Jitters and InsomniaPotential for Restlessness, Digestive Issues, and Difficulty Sleeping when consumed in excess
Cost per Serving$1.81 for 8.4 oz canVaries; typically less expensive
Flavor ProfileSweet, slightly acidicVaries widely; from bold and robust to smooth and nuanced
Best ForQuick, potent energy boostLonger-lasting energy and a variety of health benefits

Conclusion: Finding the right energy source for you

In the battle between Red Bull and coffee, both beverages offer unique characteristics and benefits. Red Bull provides a quick and potent energy boost, while coffee offers a more gradual and sustained effect. It’s important to consider factors such as taste preferences, health concerns, and cost when choosing between these energy sources.

Ultimately, finding the right energy source for you depends on your individual needs and lifestyle. Whether you choose Red Bull or coffee, moderation is key to ensure a healthy and balanced approach to energy consumption. So, go ahead and make your choice, and unleash the energy that suits you best!


  6. Bull contains caffeine%2C taurine,like running or cycling etc
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.