HomeEntertainmentPick your poison: a comprehensive energy drink review

Pick your poison: a comprehensive energy drink review


After the conclusion of the first month of my sophomore year, I had an epiphany: My entire grade was really tired. Harder classes and less sleep led to sleeping through alarm clocks and sneaking coffee past my mom–she still has hope that I’ll grow a few more inches, and I’ve heard coffee isn’t supposed to help with that. 

I decided to try energy drinks, but as a newbie to this area of cuisine, I was unsure what to get. I took my query to google and was met with not a single comprehensively ranked energy drink list, an issue which I have decided to remedy. 

May I present The Carmel Sandpiper’s first comprehensive energy drink review. 

My process:

  1. Sample eight energy drinks, evaluating each one based on the five following categories: nutrition (or lack thereof), smell, taste, caffeine and carbonation. 
  2. Choose the original flavors from each brand, but when said flavor was not available, choose what I think I will like the best. 
  3. Try the drinks in six-hour increments as to not explode my heart.

Please remember this is not something The Carmel Sandpiper would recommend doing. 

Cocla-Cola Energy – Cherry

Coca-Cola Energy – Cherry (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 39g of sugar in a 12 oz can

Caffeine: 114 mg of caffeine in a 12 oz can

Carbonation: 7.5/10

Smell: 6/10

Taste: 5/10

Overall: 6.5/10

As a Cherry Coke enthusiast, I was over the moon to find out that my favorite drink had transformed into liquid energy, but I was let down. The taste was even more artificial than the original, and the drink tasted almost plastic-esque. The carbonation was, admittedly, very good at first, but it went flat after a few minutes. 

Yerba Mate – Enlighten Mint

Yerba Mate -Enlighten Mint (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 28g of sugar in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 0/10

Smell: 8/10

Caffeine: 150 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz can

Taste: 5/10

Overall: 7/10

All of the indie kids and Lana Del Ray stans were correct: Yerba Mate is quite good. It tasted like peppermint tea, which I like, so I really enjoyed the drink. I would have liked it to be a little bit sweeter, but I thought that the flavor was nice. It was not carbonated, but as it is tea, I understand that. It has a lot less sugar than traditional energy drinks, which I appreciate, but it has significantly less caffeine. 

Starbucks DoubleShot Energy – Vanilla

Starbucks DoubleShot Energy – Vanilla (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 29g of sugar in a 15 oz can

Caffeine: 225 mg in a 15 oz can

Carbonation: 0/10

Smell: 4/10

Taste: 7/10

Overall: 6/10

Coffee beverages and Starbucks drinks in general are something I am definitely impartial to. So I was super excited to try this drink. The flavor was not terrible, but was not very coffee-like. It tasted like fake vanilla bean that had been heavily infused with fake sugar. The missing coffee flavor definitely lowered the score, but ultimately, the taste is pretty decent and the energy boost that comes with the drink is impressive. 

Rockstar – Original Flavor

Rockstar – Origina Flavor (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 63g of sugar in a 16oz can

Caffeine: 160 mg in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 0/10

Smell: 6/10

Taste: 4/10

Overall: 5/10

This drink was not so bad; however, I am impartial to carbonated drinks, so it lost some points on that account. It tasted like liquified candy and was overpoweringly sweet. I liked the taste of the beverage better than Red Bull, but it felt like I was drinking a Pixy Stix. The smell wasn’t totally awful, but certainly not enticing. Again, the caffeine content was certainly a redeeming quality.

Red Bull – Original Flavor

Red Bull – Original Flavor (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: roughly 51g of sugar in a 16 oz can

Caffeine: 160 mg in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 1/10

Smell: 4/10

Taste: 3/10

Overall: 4/10

I had high expectations for Red Bull and was crestfallen to find that it was not very good. It tasted like medicine and the smell was off-putting, almost like liquified gummy candy and gasoline. The saving grace of this drink was how much energy it gave me. 

Bang Energy – Rainbow Unicorn

Bang Energy – Rainbow Unicorn (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 0g sugars in a 16 oz can

Caffeine: 300 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 4/10

Smell: 2/10

Taste: 4/10

Overall: 4/10

When I went to try the drink, I was terrified. The back of the bottle recommended that no one under 18 should consume it. Aside from that, the taste was like liquified Airhead Xtreme Sour Belts. If a fruity drink is what you’re in the market for, this is definitely the energy drink for you. The scent is almost medicinal, like grape liquid Aspirin that babies take. Also, a clear drink for a beverage called “Rainbow Unicorn” was off putting.

Monster – Original Flavor

Monster Energy – Original Flavor (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 54g of sugar in a 16 oz can

Caffeine: 160 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 3/10

Smell: 0/10

Taste: 2/10

Overall: 2/10

This may be an unpopular opinion, but this was a truly awful drink. The smell was like a combination of acid, cleaning products, and gasoline. For those who have not tried apple cider vinegar, there is no need, try a Monster. It tastes the same, but if you added sugar. The carbonation was fine, but not good enough to redeem the drink.

Bang Energy – Blue Razz

Bang Energy – Blue Razz (Photo by Emma Brown)

Nutrition: 0g sugars in a 16 oz can

Caffeine: 300 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz can

Carbonation: 3/10

Smell: 2/10

Taste: 3/10

Overall: 2.5/10

My complaints with this flavor are similar to that of the Rainbow Unicorn flavor, only this one was worse. It tasted like when you take a sip of Sprite out of a Twizzler straw. It tasted off-brand, although I’m not quite sure what it would be a rip off of. The smell was quite awful and the carbonation was weak. I definitely would not recommend this drink. 


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