Fact file: Caffeinated drinks

Eleanor Metcalf 24 April 2014

Exams are looming and, as revision starts taking the place of sleep, caffeine will fast become a staple part of every Cambridge student’s diet. And like every other aspect of revision, your caffeinated beverage choice must be tactical. Luckily, TCS has done the hard work for you: just follow our handy guide to find out which drink gives you the most bang (and by bang we mean energy rush) for your buck.

No surprises at the winner: a large Starbucks latte clocks in at a whopping 150mg of caffeine per serving, lending weight to every coffee lover’s protestations that regular trips to Starbucks are an essential part of their revision strategy. Red Bull actually has marginally more caffeine per 100ml than coffee, but the serving sizes mean that you’re better off with a coffee if you’re looking for a serious kick.

For those time-poor (and just generally poor) folk who can’t afford regular trips to cafés, consider the at-home alternatives. Out of the popular soft drinks, Diet Coke has the highest caffeine content, followed by Pepsi, with traditional Coca Cola bringing up the rear. However, Pepsi and normal Coke both have higher sugar contents than Diet Coke, meaning that what they lack in caffeine kicks they make up for in sugar highs.

If you’re not keen on all the additives and sugars that come with soft drinks, tea is a solid alternative. The average black tea contains a good 5-8mg more caffeine per 100ml than Pepsi and Coke, so if you brew yourself up a particularly large cuppa you’ll get all the energy benefits of a Coke without the teeth-destroying extras. A strong cup of tea will often contain more caffeine than a weak, milky coffee. Green tea has a lower caffeine content – enough for a late afternoon pick-me-up without keeping you buzzing late into the night.

So there you have it: the definitive guide to (legal) energy highs. Have a green tea for a little lift, a Coke or black tea for a decent boost and a coffee for an all-night energy kick. If only all aspects of revision were this straightforward!