Should you be afraid of this Monster Energy Drink? Science and Safety Behind Caffe Monster Energy Coffee

Monster Energy hit US markets in 2002 and helped establish the energy drink stereotype: “energy drinks are dangerous concoctions with high amounts of caffeine and sugar”. It’s hard to deny this stereotype is still applicable, however, there are a growing number of caffeinated beverages which don’t fit this mold. What happens when one of the energy drink companies responsible for the Energy Drink Boom comes out with one of these not-quite-an-energy-drink alternatives?

I declared myself a biochemistry/chemistry major in 2003 – right at the beginning of the Energy Drink Boom. Fascinated by these drinks and all the fears surrounding their use, I’ve applied my education (and basically all my free time) toward understanding the science behind energy drinks and their ingredients. After 10+ years in this field, I believe parents have a right to be concerned about energy drinks, but that concern needs the right context to do anybody any good. How concerned should we be about the safety of Caffe Monster Energy Coffee?

The Energy Drink of the Month is Caffe Monster Energy Coffee.

For this month’s in-depth review, we’ll examine Caffe Monster Energy Coffee ingredients and how this drink compares to a stereotypical energy drink, as well as a similar beverage from a big-name coffee brand.

Energy Drink of the Month Aug 2018.png

First, a look at the what’s in this coffee-energy drink hybrid.

Caffe Monster IngredientsCaffe Monster Ingred Function

If you’re not here to geek out with me over the food science, then the most important thing to know about Caffe Monster is it has 150 milligrams, total, from the arabica coffee, green coffee beans, and Coffeeberry®.

Here’s what that looks like compared to regular coffee and the top three energy drink brands:

Caffeine Content Comparision EDM AUG 2018
Since Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar are the leading energy drink brands, I chose these brands and their original flavors and sizes for the comparison chart above. Note all three brands are below the EFSA’s caffeine safety limits. While all three brands offer different flavors and different can sizes with different caffeine amounts than what is used here, those other flavors and sizes are not as popular or prevalent. [SOURCE: CAFFEINE INFORMER CAFFEINE CONTENT DATABASE]
The caffeine content in one bottle of Caffe Monster (150 mg) is about the same you’d get from two cans of Red Bull, one can of Monster Energy, or one can of Rockstar Energy. And, SURPRISE – you could also drink one 8-oz cup of coffee or one Tall Starbucks Cold Brew to get the same amount of caffeine that’s in Caffe Monster.

Many people believe energy drinks have dangerously high levels of caffeine – some of them do, but it’s not the ones you would think. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded healthy adults can have up to 400 mg caffeine per day and 200 mg per occasion [source]. Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar all have less than the 200 mg limit. There are some flavors of Rockstar with 240 mg caffeine per 16-oz can but it’s the energy drinks most people have never heard of which come perilously close to this 400 mg per day limit.


But what about the sources of caffeine? This is often a source of concern regarding the safety of energy drinks versus coffee. In this case, that concern is moot. Caffe Monster only has caffeine from natural sources: Arabica coffee beans, coffeeberry, and green coffee beans. These three sources are not something you’d expect from a stereotypical energy drink.

While Coffeeberry® is only present in teeny amounts, it’s encouraging to see this in an energy drink. Coffeeberry ® has some fascinating science behind it – which I’ve summarized in this post here.

Green coffee beans are also a pleasant surprise for an energy drink. If you’ve ever wondered about how green coffee beans are different from, you know, “regular” coffee beans, come geek out with me over here, in this article.


Before we get into any conversation remotely related to the safety of “chemicals”, it helps to do a side-by-side comparison of this Monster Caffe drink and the drink it seems to be imitating: Starbucks bottled Frappuccino.

Caffe Monster vs Sbx Frapp

Since I am a food scientist, I have a different stance than most consumers when it comes to ingredients like cellulose and artificial sweeteners/flavors. If you do not want artificial sweeteners or flavors in your diet, I fully respect that! I, personally, have not seen enough evidence to convince me of any health risks behind consuming (in moderation) artificial flavors or sweeteners like the Sucralose used in Caffe Monster.

The same goes for sodium citrate and cellulose ingredients: I don’t want to shame anyone who chooses to cut these plant fibers out of their diet. Too often, cellulose ingredients are described as “wood pulp” or “sawdust”, which is both over-dramatic and misleading. If you are avoiding cellulose ingredients, I hope it’s not solely because of these names. The EFSA considers these ingredients safe, so that’s good enough for me.

  • Sodium citrate and it’s less-scary-sounding sibling citric acid are naturally found in citrus fruits. They’re used in beverages to help control the acidity or pH level.


  • Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), also called “cellulose gel”, is used to thicken a food or drink to make it the perfect texture.

»[Additional Info on MCC and Cellulose Gel from the EFSA and from Food Science Matters]

Bottom Line – What should you drink?

In terms of caffeine safety, neither Starbucks bottled frappucino nor Caffe Monster is appropriate for those under 18.

  • Starbucks bottled frappuccinos do not declare the amount of caffeine on the bottle. This is a problem because, if you had no idea the Starbucks Bottled Frappuccinos had different caffeine contents per flavor, you’d be in for an unpleasant surprise switching from the Vanilla flavor (75 mg) to the Coffee flavor (130 mg caffeine).


  • All flavors of Caffe Monster have 150 mg caffeine per bottle, which again is too much caffeine for those under 18, but at least it’s consistent and declared on the bottle.


  • If you’re over 18, you can have up to 200 mg caffeine at a time and 400 mg caffeine per day. Both Caffe Monster and Monster Energy drinks are under these caffeine limits, but Caffe Monster is better than the canned Monster Energy drinks because Caffe Monster provides caffeine from three different natural sources. Furthermore, both green coffee beans and coffeeberry® come with antioxidants.


  • Caffe Monster may have artificial ingredients, but it has half the sugar as its Starbucks counterpart. If caffeine safety is not an issue for you, then whether you chose Monster or Starbucks should depend on your diet preferences for sugar or artificial ingredients – this is a preference, not a safety issue.


As long as you are over 18 years old and consume these Caffe Monsters in moderation, the safety of this product is undeniable. Caffe Monster is yet another example of how not all energy drinks are dangerous concoctions of caffeine and sugar.



I’ve researched the science and safety behind energy drinks and their ingredients since 2003. This book is the culmination of my research:

Explore the CAFFEINE INFORMER database

Need help with quitting caffeine?



7 thoughts on “Should you be afraid of this Monster Energy Drink? Science and Safety Behind Caffe Monster Energy Coffee

  • I am thinking about doing a YouTube video on Bang! Energy Drink since it is super popular right now. Have you looked into this one?

      • Creatinine is bad – it’s considered contamination if found in a creatine supplement. From Mayo Clinic, “A creatinine test reveals important information about your kidneys.
        Creatinine is a chemical waste product that’s produced by your muscle metabolism and to a smaller extent by eating meat. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from your blood. The filtered waste products leave your body in your urine.”
        As for the BevNet article I did read that article awhile ago and I am aware of that lawsuit as well as the one for Bang vs Monster. It will be interesting to see what happens if Bang loses either case ESPECIALLY the one about the patent because the can label makes such a big deal about it (for a “fairy dust” amount of creatine). I hope this helps! Thanks again for reading/following GreenEyedGuide

  • Thank you for this informative article. You write: “Caffe Monster may have artificial ingredients, but it has half the sugar as its Starbucks counterpart.” I have just checked the respective web sites for the Mocha varieties. Starbucks lists the Sugar as 31 grams for a 9.5 fl oz serving size.

    Caffe Monster Mocha has 29 grams for a 13.7 fl oz serving size.

    • Are we looking at the same products? I was looking at the nutrition label for the Caffe Monster in the glass bottle, but I think there is more sugar in the Coffee Monsters that come in 16 oz cans. I’ll double-check the labels in case I missed something.
      Looking at the numbers in your message again I think I am also basing my POV on how people drink the whole container. So 31g sugar for 9.5 fl oz serving, but aren’t there more than 1 servings in their glass coffee beverages?

    • I just double-checked and my numbers are correct: If you look at the picture of the Caffe Monster in this post, there’s 29 grams of sugar per bottle (13.7 fluid ounces). If you look at this picture of the nutrition label from the Starbucks Frappuccino Vanilla, it says there’s 46 grams of sugar per bottle (13.7 fluid ounces). So that’s why I suggested Monster had half the sugar as its Starbucks counterpart (not exactly “half” but 29g vs 46g) Here’s my source for reference:
      Starbucks Label on
      PS – THANKS AGAIN (!!!) for reading GreenEyedGuide!

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