Yerba Mate vs. Coffee Caffeine Content Compared
Yerba mate is known as a nutrient powerhouse, and it has certainly earned that title. Not only does it contain a wide variety of antioxidants , vitamins, and minerals, but it also contains caffeine which provides a vigorous energy boost.
But many beverages offer caffeine, with coffee being one of the most popular sources. So how does the caffeine in yerba mate compare to the caffeine in coffee? You may be surprised that these two drinks not only differ in their caffeine amounts but also in the caffeine’s effect on your body.
This article will cover not only the difference between the caffeine in coffee and yerba mate, but the benefits and risks of caffeine.
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in.
First Things First
Of course, the caffeine content in both yerba mate and coffee will vary depending on a variety of factors. Let’s start off with yerba mate.
Caffeine Content of Yerba Mate
The first thing that impacts the caffeine content is the mate type.
There are three main types of yerba mate; Brazilian, Paraguayan, and Argentinian. Brazilian yerba mate tends to contain the highest caffeine content, followed by Paraguayan and Argentinian.
The brewing method can also impact the caffeine content of yerba mate.
Traditional brewing yields the highest amount of caffeine, clocking in at around 180 mg.
French Press Brewing
French press brewing yields around 70 mg of caffeine, much lower than the traditional method.
Tea Bag Brewing
Brewing with tea bags yields the lowest amount of caffeine at an average of around 30 mg.
Caffeine Content of Coffee
Like yerba mate, numerous factors will impact coffee’s caffeine levels.
Coffee Bean Type
Robusta coffee beans have the highest caffeine levels- in fact, they contain a whopping 83% more caffeine than Arabica beans.
It may seem obvious that the size of your cup and portion impacts the caffeine you ingest from your coffee, but it’s worth mentioning. What counts as “one cup” of coffee to one person may be half of what someone using a larger mug considers to be “one cup”!
Bean Roasting and Caffeine
The degree to which the coffee beans are roasted impacts the caffeine levels. Many people think that dark roast coffee beans are higher in caffeine, but in fact, the opposite is true. During the roasting process, the beans expand slightly, so fewer dark roast beans are needed to yield the same amount of coffee as light roast beans. This means dark roast coffee is slightly lower in caffeine than light roast coffee.
The brewing method can drastically alter coffee’s caffeine levels.
Arabica is the coffee typically used for brewed coffee. Classic brewed arabica coffee, or drip coffee, contains between on average 75-120 mg of caffeine per cup.
A shot of espresso is typically around 65 mg.
Instant coffee is lower in caffeine than brewed coffee, typically containing around 30-90 mg.
What About Decaf Coffee?
Contrary to its name, decaf coffee is not free from caffeine. It varies from brand to brand, but it can contain up to 7 mg per cup.
Switching Your Coffee For Yerba Mate
Because yerba mate has so many health benefits, you may consider pouring this instead of your daily java. Plus, yerba mate offers you energy quite differently from coffee. How is that possible?
Yerba mate contains theobromine, a feel-good stimulant that is also present in chocolate. Not only that but it contains theophylline, the same stimulant in black and green tea which offers you cognitive clarity and energy. Because yerba mate combines theobromine, caffeine, and theophylline, you get a comprehensive boost from this drink that coffee cannot match.
Benefits of Caffeine
Don’t forget that caffeine is a stimulant, and it has a number of pros and cons that are important to consider.
First, let’s take a look at some of the proven benefits of including caffeine in your diet.
1. Improves Alertness and Brain Function
Caffeine can improve your memory and reaction time [2, 3], along with your mood and overall brain function. Not only that, but caffeine may also prevent brain aging, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Plus, yerba mate also contains the amino acid L-theanine which further boosts your brainpower.
Of course, we all know that caffeine can keep you awake and alert when you are suffering from sleep deprivation. However, this study  notes that “although caffeine can temporarily sustain performance during continuous operations, it should be emphasized that no drug can substitute for adequate sleep.”
2. Caffeine and Weight Loss
Caffeine may impact your weight in a number of ways. It can increase mental focus and boost your exercise intensity, so you burn more calories during and after your workouts. Many athletes consume caffeine before workouts to give them an extra boost. Caffeine can also reduce your appetite, so you consume fewer calories overall.
We all know people who can eat a lot and still maintain their slim frame, and that’s because of their metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the speed at which your body processes incoming calories; the faster your metabolic rate, the more calories are needed to sustain you.
The metabolic rate varies depending on genetics, muscle mass, body fat, activity, age, gender, and hormonal function. And here, once again, caffeine’s superpowers come to the rescue. Caffeine has been proven to increase your metabolic rate , making yerba mate a good choice for boosting your metabolism.
There is another aspect of beverages like yerba mate and other herbal teas that may help with weight loss, though. Yerba mate tea may help you shed weight because hot, soothing, low-calorie beverages fill your stomach and hydrate you, causing you to feel fuller and consume fewer calories overall.
However, any type of tea can help you with this, including herbal teas like peppermint tea that do not contain caffeine.
While the caffeine in yerba mate tea may support your weight loss goals, it is not a miracle fix, and caffeine does come with negative side effects discussed below. Before looking to caffeine as your main weight-loss tool, look at your relationship with food and movement first.
Risks of Caffeine
It’s important to know that caffeine does not come without risks.
1. Poor Stress Response
Remember that caffeine is an addictive stimulant. Some people are very sensitive to caffeine, and even one cup of tea leads to jitteriness, shakiness, headaches, and severe anxiety. This study  found that “Compared to placebo, caffeine caused more than DOUBLE the levels of epinephrine and cortisol, both involved in stress response… Caffeine may increase your stress level whether you are using caffeine sporadically or regularly.”
The same study found that “Too much caffeine can cause:
- Worsening of anxiety
- Sleep disturbance
- Make your heart beat faster, palpitations, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms”
Another study found that “caffeine led to increased alertness and anxiety and improved performance on simple and choice reactive tasks.” So while it may improve performance in some areas, it may also cause anxiety  and that can be detrimental to your cognitive performance.
2. Poor Digestive Function
Caffeine causes digestive distress in some people. Diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, and insomnia are not uncommon. 
3. Sleep Disruption
Drinking caffeine too close to bedtime can cause sleeplessness and insomnia. The study linked above found that “caffeine had as early as 7 am lead to less efficient sleep and reduced total sleep at 9 pm…Some people have more daytime sleepiness because of caffeine-related sleep disruption… Caffeine can reduce blood flow to the brain by up to 27%.”
To avoid problems from caffeine consumption, at Sibo Survivor, we suggest drinking caffeine as early in the day as possible and in moderation.
4. Caffeine Withdrawal
Once you are addicted, coming off of caffeine can be quite challenging. The study noted above found that “for some people, it can take days to weeks to see benefits from reducing or eliminating caffeine…Stopping caffeine abruptly can lead to withdrawal headaches, irritability, and other symptoms.”
Summary of Caffeine Benefits and Risks
Don’t want to read the whole thing? To summarize, caffeine from yerba mate and coffee can certainly have a place in a healthy lifestyle, but remember that it comes with risks also. Pay attention to if it’s impacting your sleep, stress levels, and digestion, and cut back if it does. Consumed mindfully in moderation, it can be an enjoyable and beneficial part of your diet.
When it comes down to it, the caffeine in yerba mate and coffee are not the same. Yerba mate offers you more cognitive clarity and longer-lasting energy than coffee. Plus, it also offers you more health benefits overall. But if you’re looking for a quick and tasty energy boost, coffee is the perfect beverage for you.
Related Reading – What Does Yerba Mate Taste Like?
Stephanie is a professional writer who is a ‘SIBO survivor’ herself with broad experience writing in the health field. She is a regular writer for SIBO Survivor and calls Berlin, Germany home.