I am a college junior at Ohio University balancing classes, internships, a social life, physical health and a job, so it is not much of a surprise that caffeine is a necessity. There is only one catch, though: I hate coffee. I despise the taste and simply fail to see the appeal.
Naturally, I have turned to energy drinks and have strong opinions on which ones are superior. Here’s my official ranking.
#10: Red Bull ($2.88 at Walmart)
Starting with a controversial take, but Red Bull is not a great energy drink. It has an extremely high sugar content and it tastes like chemicals. The issue is that it does not taste like sweet chemicals in the way that a much more refreshing soda would. Rather, it just feels like something I should not be drinking.
#9: Bucked Up ($2.48 at Walmart)
Despite its current online price listing, I saw Bucked Up was on sale at Walmart for less than two dollars. Energy drinks are expensive, so I asked myself, “Why not give it a try?” shortly before tossing it in my basket. I was wrong. It gave me the jitters like few other energy drinks have, even when I was just halfway through the drink. The taste was not bad, but the restlessness that came afterward was terrible.
#8: REIGN Storm ($1.98 at Walmart)
REIGN Storm energy drinks have recently begun to appear in the campus markets. Naturally, I tried one out of curiosity, and it just tasted like an artificial sweetener. It got the job done for the most part, but it genuinely tasted like pure Splenda, which was disappointing after I was promised a peach flavor.
#7: Monster Energy ($2.28 at Walmart)
Monster Energy is alright. They aren’t bad for the most part, but the sugar content is. Fortunately, their sugar-free line is alright, but it is nothing too impressive. Their saving grace is their wide variety of flavors, so they work in a pinch.
#6: Reign ($1.98 at Walmart)
I don’t hate Reign by any means. They taste good for the most part, but their extremely high caffeine content is the kicker. Each can contains roughly 300 mg of caffeine, which can start to become a problem if I try to drink any more caffeine or eat anything with caffeine in it throughout the day.
#5: Sparkling Ice + Caffeine ($1.38 at Walmart)
I will not lie, I did not know that Sparkling Ice had an energy drink, so it was a bit of a leap of faith when it came to trying it. This was for the best, as the drink has a very low caffeine content when compared to other energy drinks, which reduced my chances of getting extremely jittery after chugging most of one before class. The taste is alright for the most part, too, which is always a great bonus.
#4: GHOST ($2.48 at Walmart)
They may taste like pure syrup, but I am no better than anyone when it comes to a sweet treat (I am always partial to the Swedish Fish and red Sour Patch Kids flavors). Plus, they have enough caffeine to get the job done.
#3: Celsius ($2.18 at Walmart)
Celsius is big among college students for a reason. It’s not too sweet, full of caffeine and – as far as energy drinks go – not too bad for you. Just don’t drink it if you are a student athlete, as it was banned by the NCAA after a study revealed it contains performance stimulants.
#2: Alani Nu ($2.48 at Walmart)
Okay, they might be sickeningly sweet, but that’s part of the appeal. They taste like soda and come in a great variety of flavors, and they don’t make me quite as jittery as most other energy drinks. Their only issue is that they are super high in caffeine, with 200 mg per can. When finals weeks and major project deadlines start to close in however, sometimes that extra boost is just what is needed. Just don’t drink more than one.
#1: AMIN.O. Energy ($3.33 per can in a 12 pack at Walmart, individual price unavailable)
This is it: the true holy grail of energy drinks. They have 100 mg of caffeine per can and are also full of electrolytes and amino acids. This makes them a relatively healthy drink, at least by energy drink standards, that will not make you too jittery or too dehydrated from all of the caffeine.