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The Top 7 Energy Drinks

I love caffeine. Well, truthfully, unless caffeine tastes like carbonated citrus sugar water, I love the effects of caffeine and the delicious delivery methods that exist. Well, another addendum, after a particularly ill-advised try to study all night long ago with several caffeine pills, I only love caffeine in the moderated liquid delivery forms. I guess, just like all love, it’s a bit complicated.

This is not the author of this post, but it might as well be

This is not the author of this post, but it might as well be

Which is kind of like the current state of energy drinks. The Energy Fiend site lists many, many drinks that contain copious quantities of caffeine, and as an added bonus, they also offer a service that can tell you how many you would have to drink before dying of a caffeine overdose. As a 200-pound guy, I would have to drink over 252 Mountain Dew Code Reds in about four hours to get to the level necessary for a caffeine overdose. That’s 3,024 ounces or almost 24 gallons. On the other hand only 27 one-ounce bottles of 5150 Juice with its 500 mg of caffeine per ounce would take me down like a lion on a water buffalo.

So, what should be your go-to energy drink? That was the question I posed to myself as I decided to try to figure out which caffeine delivery method is best. Looking for the high caffeine sources that I see the most at convenience stores, here is what I found.

Brewed Coffee: The original energy drink. As a fan of the French press and the easy way it makes me a great cup of coffee, I was also pleased to see that an average cup has 108 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces which calculates as 13.4 mg per ounce, highest of the drinks I tried. (Drip coffee is even higher at 145 mg per 8 ounces.) Its big drawback: I don’t crave a coffee after working up a sweat in the summer.

Mountain Dew: The poster child for high caffeine content for sodas and the love of nerds everywhere. Though some people may prefer crab juice to a Dew, it is such a classic that I had to put it here. However, it only has 55 mg per can, or 4.6 mg per ounce, easily the lowest of any drink I tried. But, what it lacks in caffeine, it makes up for with an overpowering sweetness, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Red Bull: The first specific energy drink that I remember. It became so popular that it became a must have for several overnight backpacking hikes I did to replace morning coffee as you can drink it lukewarm and the cans are only 8.46 ounces. With 80 mg of caffeine (or 9.5 mg per ounce) it doesn’t quite match the power of coffee, but it’s a lot easier to prepare in the morning.

Monster: The first thing that I noticed about the Monster Low Carb energy drink was that it tasted a lot like a Red Bull. It gets 10 mg per ounce in its 16-ounce incarnation that is good and just about the same as a Red Bull. So, in other words, it’s a lot like a Red Bull.

Rockstar: The first thing I noticed about the sugar free Rockstar energy drink was that it tasted a lot like a Monster which tastes a lot like a Red Bull. It also has 10 mg per ounce. So, it is about the same as a Monster, which is just about the same as a Red Bull. So, in other words, see above.

If this was the marketing, Monster would win hands down

If this was the marketing, Monster would win hands down

Full Throttle: This was the first other energy drink that didn’t taste like a Red Bull and still was a citrus flavor. (I assume that is what Red Bull is.) It took me a bit to figure out that it was kind of an orange flavor instead of a lemon lime. Did it taste good? It tasted like a kind of orange soda. Did it have a load of caffeine? 144 mg in a 16-ounce can. Did it wake me up like an overexcited dog that needs a walk? Yes, yes it did.

Jolt: Wow, I hadn’t tasted bad cola in a while. Jolt has never been much for great taste, but it has always been great for caffeine. The current version of the “Power Cola” has 190 mg in a 16-ounce can, the king of all the common energy drinks and at almost 12 mg per ounce, it comes the closest to a cup of Joe. It was also the first energy drink to which a comparison to cold cigarette ash water would be reasonable.

Of course, if you take the calories into account, coffee or the sugarless versions of the energy drinks are preferable (except for diet Mountain Dew, oh gosh, that is horrible). That said there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the caffeine delivery systems. If you find a version that you like, keep with it. If you don’t see it at the gas station where you stopped, the others will taste the same. The key is, all of them will keep you going and that’s really the bottom line.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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