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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
Kenya Africa Tea
Nigeria Africa Soft drink
South Africa Africa Soft drink
China Asia Tea
Hong Kong Asia Tea
India Asia Tea
Indonesia Asia Tea
Israel Asia Soft drink
Japan Asia Tea
Malaysia Asia Tea
Philippines Asia Soft drink
South Korea Asia Coffee
Taiwan Asia Tea
Thailand Asia Soft drink
Vietnam Asia Tea
Austria Europe Soft drink
Belgium Europe Soft drink
Bosnia and herzegovina Europe Coffee
Bulgaria Europe Soft drink
Croatia Europe Soft drink
Denmark Europe Coffee
Estonia Europe Coffee
Finland Europe Coffee
France Europe Coffee
Georgia Europe Coffee
Germany Europe Coffee
Greece Europe Coffee
Hungary Europe Soft drink
Ireland Europe Tea
Italy Europe Soft drink
Latvia Europe Tea
Netherlands Europe Coffee
Norway Europe Coffee
Poland Europe Coffee
Portugal Europe Soft drink
Romania Europe Soft drink
Slovenia Europe Coffee
Spain Europe Soft drink
Sweden Europe Coffee
Switzerland Europe Soft drink
turkey Europe Tea
UK Europe Tea
Canada North America 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
Australia Oceania Soft drink
New Zealand Oceania Tea
Argentina South America Soft drink
Bolivia South America Soft drink
Brazil South America Coffee
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.

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