Coffee, tea or soft drinks… How do you get your caffeine fix?
It may be the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world, but your favorite caffeine drink may depend on where you live.
A caffeine consumption study from 57 countries looked at its role in our diet, using Euromonitor’s caffeinated beverage sales volume to see which source of caffeine each country prefers.
The resulting caffeine preference map shows regional trends, including some surprising highlights.
Most purchased caffeine drink by country
There are many caffeinated drinks for consumers to choose from, from brewed drinks to ready-to-drink vending machine options.
To simplify tastes, we have grouped them into three types:
- Coffee – Includes freshly ground coffee, instant coffee and ready-to-drink coffee.
- Tea – Includes herbal, black, green and other teas, as well as ready-to-drink tea.
- Soft drink – Includes colas, other soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.
Here is the full breakdown of each country’s favorite caffeine drinks, by sales volume.
|Country||Region||Most Popular Caffeine Drinks|
|South Africa||Africa||Soft drink|
|Bosnia and herzegovina||Europe||Coffee|
|Costa Rica||North America||Coffee|
|Dominican Republic||North America||Coffee|
|Guatemala||North America||Soft drink|
|Mexico||North America||Soft drink|
|we||North America||Soft drink|
|Argentina||South America||Soft drink|
|Bolivia||South America||Soft drink|
|Chile||South America||Soft drink|
|Colombia||South America||Soft drink|
|Uruguay||South America||Soft drink|
|Venezuela||South America||Soft drink|
Examining the regional spread shows us some expected strongholds of caffeine.
Tea was the favorite drink of many countries in most of Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, and Japan. But it has also shown a strong foothold in Africa, as Kenya is the largest exporter of black tea in the world, and in Europe, as turkey, Ireland, and the UK are the top three tea consuming countries in the world on a per capita basis.
Coffee was the most popular caffeine-based drink in a number of countries in Europe, including all of the Nordic countries. It is also the drink of choice in Canada, South Korea, and Brazil, the latter two being the only countries in Asia and South America to favor coffee.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the global preference for carbonated drinks. the we and most Latin American countries consumed heavily non-alcoholic drinks compared to other caffeinated drinks, as did the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia. Even in Europe, some countries that are heavy drinkers of coffee like Italy and Switzerland bought more soft drinks than coffee by narrow margins.
Coke’s influence on the coffee vs tea vs soft drink debate
While the global map of caffeine preferences may seem region specific at a glance, there are some notable business influences at play.
The proliferation of carbonated drinks in Latin America is largely due to the power of Coca-Cola. Mexico, the country that most preferred non-alcoholic drinks to other drinks, is also the biggest consumer of Coca-Cola per capita. Coca-Cola has also reached far beyond the borders of the United States from where it originated, becoming a staple drink in many parts of Europe, Australia and Asia.
This brand power extends to coffee as well. Many coffee-preferring countries have actually leaned more toward instant coffee purchases than freshly ground coffee, a sign of the enduring influence of Nestlé’s instant coffee brand, Nescafé.
But it’s important to note that many countries haven’t been tabulated, and caffeine purchases don’t differentiate between all possible caffeinated drinks. There are many different types of coffees, teas, soft drinks, and even yerba mate that consumers can choose from.
As a snapshot of global caffeine consumption, it’s a reminder that the world’s most commonly consumed psychoactive stimulant is taken in many different forms. Both in history and in modern times.