What Are the Differences Between Coffee and Red Bull?

While coffee has been widely consumed for thousands of years, Red Bull and other energy drinks are relative newcomers to the caffeinated beverage market. Millions of Americans turn to one of these two beverages on a daily basis to increase energy and mental alertness, but is there really a difference?

The following looks at important distinctions between coffee and Red Bull.Red Bull

A Comparison of Coffee vs Red Bull:

My comparison looks at how coffee stacks up to Red Bull in terms of the amount of energy-boosting caffeine, calories, sugar content, price, and other health benefits.

Caffeine Content

When it comes to caffeine, coffee is the clear winner. Depending on the brew method and the variety of coffee bean used, the average 8-ounce cup of coffee has anywhere from 80 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. This compares to an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull, which contains 80 milligrams of caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should limit their caffeine intake to 400 milligrams per day.

Calorie Content

The number of calories in your morning cup of java or Red Bull can vary significantly based on what you like to add to your coffee or the type of Red Bull that you prefer.

Black coffee only has 2 calories, so you can drink to your heart’s content without feeling guilty about wrecking your diet. A tablespoon of the following condiments will add to the calorie count:

  • Fat-free milk/5 calories
  • Half-and-half/20 calories
  • Sugar/49 calories
  • Heavy whipping cream/52 calories

An 8.4-ounce can of regular Red Bull contains 110 calories while the same sized can of Red Bull Sugar-free only has 5 calories. A 12-ounce can of Red Bull Zero comes in at 15 calories.

Sugar Content

One advantage of coffee is that you are totally in control of the sugar content. A can of regular Red Bull, on the other hand, contains 27 grams of sugar. According to current dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. government, adults should limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories. That means that two Red Bulls a day can easily put you over your daily sugar allotment on a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

If you opt for a Red Bull, it is best to choose either Red Bull Zero or Red Bull Sugar-free, which have no added sugar.


Coffee contains magnesium and chromium, which can help your body use insulin more efficiently and reduce your risk of diabetes. The antioxidants in coffee may help reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Regular coffee drinkers also have a lower incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and certain types of cancer.

The Differences Between Coffee and Red Bull
Red Bull is not without its own health benefits, but they are not as significant as with coffee. The popular energy drink contains a natural stimulant called taurine, which can aid antioxidation, calcium signaling, retinal and musculoskeletal development, and cardiovascular function. Red Bull also contains high levels of various B vitamins, which are a good source of energy.


The price of both coffee and Red Bull can vary depending on where you live and the type of coffee that you prefer; however, for most people, the cost of a cup of coffee is significantly less than a can of Red Bull. A cup of brewed coffee can average between $1.00 and $2.00 while a single can of Red Bull can set you back between $2.00 and $3.00.

The Bottom Line—Why Coffee is better than Red Bull:

Although taste is certainly a matter of personal preference, there is nothing like the aroma of a fresh-brewed pot of coffee to start your day off on the right foot. Today’s single-serve and programmable coffee makers make it possible to enjoy the ritual of a hot cup of coffee on even the busiest mornings.

While energy drinks may be popular among Millennials, they will never replace the comfort of a cup of coffee. When you look at the health benefits, cost, and the amount of caffeine per serving, coffee comes out the undisputed winner.

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