Coffee vs Tea: An age-old rivalry

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An age-old rivalry

We all love a good rivalry. Whether it’s the Beatles vs Stones, Coke vs Pepsi, Batman vs Superman, Star Wars vs Star Trek and Mac vs PC, each and every one of these world-famous feuds gives rise to enthusiastic debate over pros and cons among passionate supporters. But perhaps one of the longest standing battles is that of coffee vs tea. Coffee drinkers are often categorised as busy and energetic, while the stereotypical tea drinker is calm, and relaxed. Each drink has its benefits but is one really better than the other? We’re going to investigate this age-old rivalry and look at the histories, health benefits, and tastes associated with each drink.

coffee vs tea

The origins of coffee and tea

Tales of two beloved brews


For many, tea is the quintessential British drink, but the drink didn’t actually make its way over to England until the 17th Century when it landed on English shores in the hands of King Charles II.

According to the history books, tea was first discovered in 2737BC by the Emperor of China, Shen Nung. The story goes, that Shen Nung was boiling water under a tree when some leaves fell from above and landed in his pot. The emperor was so delighted and relaxed by the blend of leaves and water that he continued to sit under the tree and drink the tea for the next seven years.

Over the years, tea drinking became a cultural practice across China and when visiting Japanese priests tasted the tea, they enjoyed it so much that they took it back to their homes to share with others. It was when Buddhists began to use tea during meditations that the Japanese Tea Ceremony was formed and turned tea drinking into the deeply spiritual Japanese tradition that we know today.


There are a couple of stories surrounding the first discovery of coffee but one of the most popular is that of an Ethiopian with a herd of overly-energetic goats. The fable tells of a goat herder named Kaldi in ninth century Ethiopia and how one day he noticed his goats were behaving in an unusually excitable way after eating the red berries of a coffee tree. Kaldi’s curiosity led him to the tree and he tried the berries for himself. He was so energised by the effects that he told the abbot of a local monastery about his experience. It wasn’t long before the local monks were boiling the beans and using the liquid to stay awake through late-night ceremonies. And so, the first cup of coffee was born. Word of the mysterious bean drink travelled across the globe and launched a worldwide love affair with coffee that would last for centuries to come.


Tea still reigns as the most widely consumed drink in the world after water but coffee is a close runner up and continues to grow in popularity. Euromonitor International conducted research on 79 countries and found that coffee dominates as the drink of choice in the Americas and Europe and, unsurprisingly, tea is favoured throughout most of Asia. Australia is split almost completely down the middle with 50.3 per cent opting for tea and the remaining 49.7 per cent preferring coffee. And surprise, surprise, some 79 per cent of Brits prefer a cup of English breakfast over a mug of Joe.

Caffeine in tea vs coffee

Tea contains a significantly lower level of caffeine to coffee but when it comes down to how much caffeine is in a cup of tea, there are many influencing factors. These include the brewing method, time and temperature and the type of leaf. On average, black tea contains anywhere between 40mg and 120mg of caffeine per cup.

Like tea, the caffeine content within coffee can vary depending on the roast and brewing time. Original Nespresso capsules contain 50mg-120mg caffeine per extraction
 and Nespresso Vertuo capsules contain 70mg – 150mg for 40ml/150ml extractions and 170mg – 200mg for 230ml / 414ml extractions.

Health benefits of coffee vs tea

Possibly the most argued aspects of the bean vs leaf debate is which has better health benefits. With so many contradicting studies on this topic, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer but here are some findings.


  • Tea has been linked to improved brain health and a lower risk of age related memory loss.
  • Some studies also suggest that the antioxidants in tea contain cancer-fighting properties.
  • These same antioxidants are also said to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Studies also point to signs that tea can help to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.


  • Coffee also contains antioxidants, albeit a much lower level than tea.
  • Coffee also holds key nutrients such as potassium and magnesium.
  • It’s said that coffee improves insulin sensitivity and can therefore reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Its high caffeine content works to constrict blood vessels in the brain and can help in reducing migraine pain.

Which is better coffee or tea?

So, what’s the verdict? Well, as far as we’re concerned, coffee will always be king. When it comes to taste, there’s just no comparison. The creamy, rich, versatile, body-warming and stomach satisfying qualities of coffee pretty much walk all over the watery British brew.

Whether you’re a member of our die-hard coffee clan or a loyal leaf lover through and through, we invite you to experience the difference of a Nespresso homemade coffee. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you fall in love with quality coffee.

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