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13 January 2019

Coffee versus Matcha

Published by Masuta Matcha Team

There are benefits to incorporating coffee or matcha into your diet. Both provide antioxidants, essential nutrients, increases energy and brain function.

So, which is a better option?

We look at important differences and how they compare.

Caffeine levels

Matcha contains 68 mg of caffeine per serving, which is less than a cup of coffee. Caffeine levels in popular coffee drinks such as lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos can range between 113 mg and 282 mg depending on size and strength.  

Caffeine acts as a stimulant that helps combat tiredness and improve concentration. Because the caffeine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, you will feel its effect within 15 minutes. Its no wonder coffee is a popular choice to give us an instant energy boost. However, coffee does come with some downsides. The stimulant effect starts to wear off within 1 to 2 hours and you will experience a sudden crash of energy.

One fact most people aren't aware of is that coffee beans are susceptible to mold and toxin contamination if not processed or stored properly (even if it's organic!). The presence of mold toxins will compound that crash you feel, drain your energy and cause lower cognitive function.  You have less to worry about when it comes to matcha. Some teas can be susceptible to mold as a result of it being poorly processed, however toxins are more prevalent in coffee and black tea than green tea. Refer to the matcha buying guide for tips on how to select the best quality matcha.

The other downside to coffee is the high caffeine levels, which can stimulate production of adrenaline and cortisol (the body's stress and fat producing hormone). You may also experience nervousness or jitters when you've had one too many cups. One study found that high consumption of coffee on a regular basis caused decreased blood flow to the brain. So it's important to ensure you don't consume large quantities of coffee. The recommended amount is 400 mg per day, which is equivalent to 2-3 cups depending on how you have your coffee.

Matcha on the other hand doesn't have enough caffeine to cause the same effect as it's digested very differently to the caffeine in coffee. What's unique about matcha is the presence of the amino acid called l-theanine, which helps to metabolise the caffeine slowly, resulting in a prolonged period of energy and focus lasting between 3 to 6 hours. L-theanine increases alpha brain wave activity, but also promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness. The combination of caffeine and l-theanine create a simultaneous state of increased focus and calmness that lasts for up to 6 hours - something you don't get from coffee.

However, it's not all bad news for coffee. If you consume high quality coffee that has been organically grown and processed in optimal conditions, you will benefit from improved cognitive performance, enhanced memory and some studies suggest that moderate intake of caffeine may protect against type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.


Many people don't realise that caffeine is an antioxidant and because coffee is an extremely popular beverage, it is the single biggest source of antioxidants in America.

Studies have shown that caffeine is the source of powerful antioxidant activity that's responsible for protecting against Alzheimer's and heart disease. Other studies have shown that coffee is rich in other antioxidants, such as polyphenols and hyrdocinnamic acids, which are great for fighting cell damaging free radicals. It is important to note that research about how caffeine works as an antioxidant is still ongoing and the same studies that have found coffee to be an excellent antioxidant also warn of it's health risks.

Matcha is extremely rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids, catechins and polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) measures antioxidant levels in food and the antioxidant levels present in matcha is 1573 per gram. This is 17 times higher than blueberries with 93 per gram.

Antioxidants provide important protection from harmful free radicals, which are molecules that cause aging, tissue damage and inflammatory diseases. Both coffee and matcha will give you a good dose of antioxidants, however the key difference here is the caffeine levels. The high caffeine content in coffee mean you need to ensure you don't over indulge, otherwise you can put your health at risk.  

Other health benefits

Both coffee and matcha have thermogenic properties, increasing metabolic rate and fat oxidation, which helps with fat loss.

Matcha contains EGCG a specific type of catechin that is responsible for increasing thermogensis (metabolic process of burning calories to produce heat). This particular catechin is highly concentrated n matcha, containing 137 times the levels in regular green tea.

Scientists have shown that these concentrated levels can increase thermogensis from a normal 8-10% to between 35-43% and can help you burn more fat when consumed before exercise.

EGCG also helps fight bacteria and infections and may reduce risk of prostate and breast cancers. Other benefits of matcha that are linked to clinical studies range from improving skin to supporting heart and brain health. Unfortunately, catechins are not found in coffee.  

What's the verdict?

Both coffee and matcha can be beneficial for health, however it's important to remember that coffee does have some limitations. Due to its high caffeine content, coffee can cause negative side effects such as headaches, nervousness, insomnia and trigger heartburn.  

If you can't face giving up your daily coffee, ensure that it is high quality, otherwise you won't get any of the health benefits and you will feel worse after consuming it. Bulletproof branded coffee uses a third party to test for mold toxins and is the only brand we are aware of that does this.

Also keep in mind that moderation is key when it comes to coffee. Avoid large doses on a regular basis as the high caffeine levels can be detrimental to your health.

If coffee makes you feel anything but great, then its your body telling you to make a change. Matcha is a great alternative for people looking to cut out or reduce their coffee intake. Matcha provides fantastic health benefits that you can't get from coffee or other foods. Its also a versatile ingredient that can be used in smoothies, raw treats and frozen desserts, making it easier to incorporate matcha into your diet. We have a range of recipes to help you out.

The added bonus - matcha doesn't stain your teeth or give you bad breath!

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    2. EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), 2015. Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine . EFSA Journal 2015 ;13(5):4102, 120 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4102 <>
    3. The Australian Beverages Council. "Caffeine - the facts." August 2013. <>
    4. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). "EFSA explains risk assessment - caffeine." <>
    5. "
    Catechin Contents of Foods Commonly Consumed in The Netherlands. 2. Tea, Wine, Fruit Juices, and Chocolate Milk". Ilja C. W. Arts,†,‡, Betty van de Putte,† and, and Peter C. H. Hollman*,† Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2000 48 (5), 1752-1757 DOI: 10.1021/jf000026+ <>
    6. Bulletproof Blog. "Tea time: what are the benefits of green tea?" <>
    7. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. "L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effecton mental state."
    2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.  Nobre AC(1), Rao A, Owen GN. <>
    8. National Institutes of Health. "The effect of daily caffeine use on cerebal blood flow: how much caffeine can we tolerate?" Published in final editable form as Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 October ; 30(10): 3102–3114. doi:10.1002/hbm.20732. <>

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