Caffeine Alternatives for Non-Coffee Drinkers

With midterm season now in full swing, the all-nighters of this quarter have also begun. For those who leave the studying to the night before a big test, which I can unfortunately relate to, sometimes staying up until ungodly hours of the night is necessary to protect our GPAs. As an avid coffee drinker, I am saved by the magic of espresso when my situation becomes dire. However, I am aware that many students can’t stand the taste of coffee. For those who are not a fan of these magic beans but still need an extra caffeine boost to get you through the night, worry not, friends! There are many other alternatives that can get the job done.


The great thing about tea is that there are so many different flavors,  so if you get bored with one, there are tons of others waiting for you! Different types of teas also range in caffeine levels, so watch which ones you buy. Black tea is the closest equivalent to coffee in terms of energy, while green tea or white tea follow behind. Be mindful of the herbal teas, as they might taste nice and fruity but have no caffeine to give you a boost.

Red Bull

As the famous slogan says: “Red Bull gives you wings.” With around 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz serving, Red Bull will work the same as coffee. However, these drinks are known to also pack a good amount of sugar in them. I’d recommend turning to these red and blue cans when necessary as opposed to a daily wake up call.


For those not familiar with matcha, it is a finely ground powder of green tea leaves with a signature bright green color. It is most commonly mixed into water or milk, both iced and hot. Matcha can come in handy because it has less caffeine than black tea but more than green tea bags. This powder is also known for having health benefits if you’re looking for a more natural energy solution to your midterm madness. Some studies have even shown that although matcha has less caffeine than coffee, it will give you a calmer alertness that lasts longer than an average cup of joe.

5 Hour Energy

Before I get into the details of this drink, I would advise you to save it only for desperate situations. As the average 8oz cup of coffee has around 80 milligrams of caffeine, 5 Hour Energy is but a 2oz bottle filled with about 200 milligrams of caffeine! This drink may get you through your essays, practice tests, and flashcards, but beware of a possible crash later on, especially if you are more sensitive to caffeine than others.

Guayaki Yerba Mate

Personally, I owe much of my academic success to the cans of Enlighten Mint. Guayaki is a somewhat recent addition to the UC San Diego campus but are now abundant in every market. Yerba mate is an herbal tea packed with natural energy that will leave you feeling refreshed and awake. Guayaki’s Yerba Mate comes in several flavors and a wide range of caffeine levels. These levels are printed on the labels from around 60 milligrams to 135 milligrams, so be sure to take note of which kind you’re buying!