The Great Debate: Coffee vs. Tea

Posted on

by Grace Herndon, Contributing Writer

Coffee and tea: a long-standing rivalry or a complimentary match made in heaven? They are both dynamite beverages, but they hold a few differences. Many coffee or tea drinkers have a distinct opinion as to which they prefer. The two drinks have unique varieties regarding flavor, but I decided to investigate some of the other key distinctions between the two. Of course, my first thought was about caffeine.

The average cup of black coffee has over double the amount of caffeine than a cup of green or black tea, about 95-165 mg versus 25-48 mg. For both drinks, added ingredients such as milk, sugar, cream and syrups reduce the average eight-ounce serving of caffeine. While increasing sugar, these extras also cut down the caffeine kick. The strength of the caffeine content can also be affected by the strength of the brew, depending on the ratio of water to bean or water to tea leaves. The more watered-down, the weaker the caffeine.

Both beverages are also extremely popular around the world. In many places, the drinks are an integral part of daily routines. The popularity of one drink over another varies greatly depending on the geographical location. On average, Americans consume three times as much coffee as tea, whereas in Great Britain, it is the opposite. Tea dominates the scene across the pond, as it has historically. Some countries, such as Australia, have a near perfect 50/50 split of tea to coffee consumption. Evidently, preferred drinks depend heavily on culture.

Differences between coffee and tea also exist environmentally, with coffee leaving a larger footprint. Coffee sourcing is more sustainable around the world in comparison to tea, but there is a catch — tea requires substantially fewer ingredients to get the same eight-ounce cup. Throughout the coffee industry, sustainability awareness is increasing dramatically, with large corporations like Starbucks beginning their own sustainability initiatives. The java giant sets standards to heighten competition for quality across the coffee market, as well as sources 100 percent of the coffee sustainably. Starbucks has also set the goal of having 100 percent ethically sourced tea and cocoa by 2020. Tea is currently in the lead for this aspect, but coffee is quickly catching up.

Beyond Starbucks, most cities have many cafés that are perfect for grabbing a pick-me-up drink throughout the day, Madison included. Pop in for a cappuccino or latte at EVP Coffee, a local shop with their own roasts and some of the best espresso drinks in the city! There are multiple locations, making it easy to pick up a cup wherever you are. If coffee is not your cup of tea, pop into Sencha Tea Bar on State Street. Whether you are looking for something hot or cold, energy-boosting or calming, Sencha has you covered with a huge selection of delicious teas.

Regardless of which side you are on, it is easy to appreciate the power and prestige both drinks hold around the world. Coffee and tea may differ in some ways, but both beverages bring unique tastes, traditions and global impacts. So sit back, relax and take a sip, because these two drinks are the perfect company for a sunny morning or a cozy night.


  1. “Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda and More.” Mayo Clinic. 14 Apr. 2017.
  2. P.J.W., and D.H. “The Coffee Insurgency.” The Economist. 16 Dec. 2013.
  3. DeSilver, Drew. “Chart of the Week: Coffee and Tea around the World.” Pew Research Center.  20 Dec. 2013.
  4. “Starbucks Ethical Sourcing | Sustainable Products.” Starbucks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *