Red Bull vs. Coffee: Caffeine, Sugar, Energy & Healthy Drink

Red Bull vs. Coffee

Red Bull and coffee are the two main beverages that most people will turn to when they want to get the energy boost that comes with caffeine. And while different people already have a preference between the two, there are still many others on the fence.

Both drinks pack enough caffeine to keep you alert for several hours and can also help provide the energy boost you need for physical activities like sports and workouts. However, they will differ in several aspects from the caffeine levels to the quantity of sugar on each.

Hence, when trying to figure out whether to make a cup of coffee or grab a can of Red Bull, it is important to make sure you know what sets them apart. Here we highlight in more detail the key differences between these two popular beverages.

Red Bull



Sodium citrate, glucose, artificial taste enhancers, and flavors and much more

Coffee beans and water

Caffeine Content

80 mg per 8.4 oz can

80-200 mg per 8 oz cup


117 calories

Less than 1 calorie


26 grams

No sugar

Best Time to Drink It

Hot afternoons and when engaging in high-intensity physical activities

Morning and Afternoon

Red Bull vs. Coffee

Both Red Bull and coffee are highly effective at providing an energy boost and keeping the drinker alert. Many people take both at different times and occasions but sometimes you might need to decide which one to go for. When this is the case for you, keeping the following points in mind should make the choice an easier one.


Red Bull is one of the most popular energy drinks in Europe and across the USA and it is famously known for its catchy slogan and distinctive can with blue and silver shades. Many of its fanatics prefer it for its convenience and wide availability and most drink it as a workout booster.

While Red Bull might be a highly popular beverage, its popularity is almost insignificant when compared to coffee given that the latter is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world coming second only to water.

Besides its ability to provide an energy boost, coffee has been a part of many cultures for many centuries, and it is that one beverage you can almost be certain of getting regardless of where you might be in the world.


The first difference between coffee and Red Bull and perhaps the most significant one is the ingredients used to make each.

A typical cup of drip coffee only contains the coffee beans steeped in water. And unlike Red Bull, coffee is not industrial-processed because besides drying, roasting and grinding nothing much is done to the beans, and they will not contain any artificial additives.

Red Bull is an industrial-manufactured product that is made with several ingredients which include sodium citrate, glucose, artificial taste enhancers, and flavors and a few other ingredients. Also, like many other energy drinks, Red Bull will contain added vitamins like B12 and minerals like calcium.

Caffeine Content

Caffeine is the key reason why these two beverages are popular as it is what provides the energy boost and helps keep drinkers alert.

When it comes to caffeine, there will be a lot of variations with coffee as there are several factors that determine the quantity of caffeine in coffee from the beans types to the roast and brewing method.

However, a typical cup of black drip coffee will have between 80 and 200 mg of caffeine for an 8-ounce cup. But with Red Bull, the caffeine content remains the same from one can to the other, and it averages at around 80 mg of caffeine for an 8.4-ounce can.

Hence, coffee contains relatively more caffeine and would be your best pick between the two is the caffeine dose is your main concern.

But, it is also worth noting that besides caffeine, Red Bull also contains Taurine which is also a naturally occurring stimulant.


You cannot overlook the number of calories that you take in when drinking either of the beverages, and this is more so for those that are watching their weight.

When you compare Red Bull with undiluted coffee, the former will have way much more calories than the latter as one can contain at least 117 calories. A cup of pure black coffee with no additives, on the other hand, will have less than one calorie.

But, keep in mind that if like many coffee drinkers you prefer to take your coffee with additives like milk, cream or sugar you are more likely to end up taking in more calories than you would get in a can of Red Bull.


Many coffee drinkers will opt to sweeten their cup of java with sugar, honey, and other sweeteners, but a freshly brewed cup of black coffee will not contain any sugar at all.

With Red Bull, on the other hand, you will get around 27 grams of sugar in an 8.4-ounce can which is approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar which means you would have to take your 8-ounce cup of coffee with at least 6 sugars to get it in as much sugar.

But, while coffee might not contain any sugar, a huge chunk of coffee drinkers will still end up taking in a lot of sugar in their cup of Joe when they add sweeteners and lighteners.

Best Time to Drink It

Different people will have different preferences as to when they prefer to take their beverages. But for many coffee lovers, nothing beats a cup of coffee in the morning and most cannot start the day without taking at least one cup before leaving the house.

Coffee can also be a good beverage to drink in a slow afternoon when your energy levels are down and you are finding it hard to concentrate or remain alert. But, when taking it in the afternoon, you should make sure that you do not drink any past 2 pm to give your body enough time to process the caffeine before you go to bed.

Read More: How to Enjoy Black Coffee

With Red Bull, you will probably not want to take it in the morning because besides being a cold beverage, it is not always the most refreshing beverage you can take when you are just from the bed. Instead, it will be a more appropriate beverage for a hot afternoon as it will reenergize you.

Also, Red Bull is the perfect drink for you when engaging in high-intensity physical and mental activities such as exercises or even when playing video games. Better yet, Red Bull can also be perfect when you are going out both during the day and at night.

Which One is Healthier?

When it comes to healthiness, coffee beats Red Bull hands down, and this is not only because it is a more natural product that is not industrial-processed but also because of what it contains.

While Red Bull still has some antioxidants, coffee has way much more antioxidants than Red Bull and there has been lots of research on the benefits that the compounds in coffee will provide for the body. And different findings show that by drinking coffee, you will minimize your risk of getting various ailments including Alzheimer's and Type 2 Diabetes.

Also, without any sweeteners or additives, coffee does not have any calories, unlike Red Bull which has at least 117 calories per can. Hence, coffee is less likely to lead to weight gain when compared to Red Bull.

Bottom Line

Both Red Bull and coffee will give you that caffeine energy boost you always look for to face the day ahead or to spice up a low-energy day. But, their similarity probably ends at the fact that both are caffeinated beverages.

While Red Bull is a manufactured product, coffee is a more natural beverage made from roasted coffee beans. Red Bull contains lots of sugar and calories while a cup of pure black coffee will not contain any.

Hence, when it comes to choosing between the two, it will be up to you to decide what you are looking for. If you are looking for a higher caffeine dosage, coffee is your best choice but if you want something sweeter that still provides a nice energy boost, Red Bull is your bed bet.

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