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Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks: What Caffeine Drinks Do Countries Prefer?

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Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks caffeine map full

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Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks: Caffeinated Drink Popularity

Coffee, tea, or soft drinks… How do you get your caffeine fix?

It might be the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance, but your preferred caffeine drink of choice might come down to where you live.

A study into caffeine consumption of 57 countries examined the role it plays in our diets, using the volume sales of caffeine-containing beverages from Euromonitor to see what caffeine source each country prefers.

The resulting map of caffeine preference shows regional trends, including some surprising standouts.

Most Purchased Caffeine Drink By Country

There are many different caffeine drinks for consumers to choose from, from brewed drinks to ready-to-drink vending machine options.

To simplify tastes, we grouped them into three types:

  • Coffee — Includes fresh brewed coffee, instant coffee, and ready-to-drink coffee.
  • Tea — Includes herbal, black, green, and other teas, as well as ready-to-drink tea.
  • Soft Drinks — Includes colas, other soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks.

Here’s the full breakdown of each country’s preferred caffeine drink of choice, by volume sales.

CountryRegionMost Purchased Caffeine Drinks
KenyaAfricaTea
NigeriaAfricaSoft Drinks
South AfricaAfricaSoft Drinks
ChinaAsiaTea
Hong KongAsiaTea
IndiaAsiaTea
IndonesiaAsiaTea
IsraelAsiaSoft Drinks
JapanAsiaTea
MalaysiaAsiaTea
PhilippinesAsiaSoft Drinks
South KoreaAsiaCoffee
TaiwanAsiaTea
ThailandAsiaSoft Drinks
VietnamAsiaTea
AustriaEuropeSoft Drinks
BelgiumEuropeSoft Drinks
Bosnia-HerzegovinaEuropeCoffee
BulgariaEuropeSoft Drinks
CroatiaEuropeSoft Drinks
DenmarkEuropeCoffee
EstoniaEuropeCoffee
FinlandEuropeCoffee
FranceEuropeCoffee
GeorgiaEuropeCoffee
GermanyEuropeCoffee
GreeceEuropeCoffee
HungaryEuropeSoft Drinks
IrelandEuropeTea
ItalyEuropeSoft Drinks
LatviaEuropeTea
NetherlandsEuropeCoffee
NorwayEuropeCoffee
PolandEuropeCoffee
PortugalEuropeSoft Drinks
RomaniaEuropeSoft Drinks
SloveniaEuropeCoffee
SpainEuropeSoft Drinks
SwedenEuropeCoffee
SwitzerlandEuropeSoft Drinks
TurkeyEuropeTea
UKEuropeTea
CanadaNorth AmericaCoffee
Costa RicaNorth AmericaCoffee
Dominican RepublicNorth AmericaCoffee
GuatemalaNorth AmericaSoft Drinks
MexicoNorth AmericaSoft Drinks
U.S.North AmericaSoft Drinks
AustraliaOceaniaSoft Drinks
New ZealandOceaniaTea
ArgentinaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
BoliviaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
BrazilSouth AmericaCoffee
ChileSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
ColombiaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks
UruguaySouth AmericaSoft Drinks
VenezuelaSouth AmericaSoft Drinks

Examining the regional spread shows us some expected caffeine strongholds.

Tea was the preferred drink of choice for many countries in most of Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, and Japan. But it also showed a strong foothold in Africa, as Kenya is the world’s largest black tea exporter, and in Europe, as Turkey, Ireland, and the UK are the world’s top three tea-consuming countries per capita.

Coffee was the most preferred caffeine drink in a number of countries in Europe, including all of the Nordic countries. It is also the drink of choice in Canada, South Korea, and Brazil, the latter two being the only countries in Asia and South America to prefer coffee.

Perhaps most surprising is the global preference for soft drinks. The U.S. and most of Latin America overwhelmingly consumed soft drinks over other caffeine drinks, as did the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia. Even in Europe, some countries that are heavy coffee drinkers like Italy and Switzerland purchased more soft drinks than coffee by narrow margins.

Coke’s Influence on the Coffee vs Tea vs Soft Drinks Debate

Though the global map of caffeine preference looks regionally-specific at a glance, there are some notable business influences at play.

The proliferation of soft drinks in Latin America is largely due to the power of Coca-Cola. Mexico, the country which preferred soft drinks the most over other drinks, is also the world’s biggest consumer of Coca-Cola per capita. Coca-Cola also reached far beyond the borders of the U.S. where it originated, becoming a staple drink in many parts of Europe, Australia, and Asia.

This power of brands extends to coffee as well. Many coffee-preferring countries actually leaned more towards instant coffee purchases over freshly brewed coffee, a mark of the lasting influence of Nestlé’s brand of instant coffee, Nescafé.

But it’s important to note that many countries were not tabulated, and that caffeine purchases don’t differentiate between every single possible caffeine drink. There are many different types of coffees, teas, soft drinks, and even yerba mate for consumers to choose from.

As a snapshot of global caffeine consumption, it’s a reminder that the world’s most commonly consumed psychoactive stimulant is taken in many different forms. Both throughout history, and in modern times.

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Panama Canal Traffic by Shipment Category and Tonnage

This graphic illustrates Panama Canal traffic by shipment category, looking at the total number of shipping crossings and the total tonnage.

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Panama Canal traffic has been steadily restricted due to severe drought, affecting supply chains for U.S. and Asian importers. This graphic illustrates the total number of shipping crossings at the Canal throughout 2023.

Panama Canal Traffic by Shipment Category and Tonnage

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Daily Panama Canal traffic has been steadily restricted to start the year, with an expected peak reduction of over 40% by February 2024 due to severe drought. The problem is already affecting supply chains for U.S. and Asian importers.

This graphic illustrates the number of shipping crossings by market segment at the Canal and the net tonnage carried during the Annual Fiscal 2023 (October 2022 to September 2023). Data is from the Panama Canal Authority.

About the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is an artificial 82-kilometer (51-mile) waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean, built between 1904 and 1914.

The Canal locks at each end lift ships to Gatun Lake, an artificial freshwater lake 26 meters (85 ft) above sea level. The shortcut dramatically reduces the time for ships to travel between the two oceans, enabling them to avoid the route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan.

The Panama Canal moves roughly $270 billion worth of cargo annually–it’s the trade route taken by 40% of all U.S. container traffic alone and handles about 5% of all global maritime trade.

The Driest October in 70 Years

Last October, however, Panama received 41% less rainfall than usual, leading to the driest October in 70 years in what was supposed to be Panama’s rainy season, bringing the level of the Gatun Lake almost six feet below where it was a year ago. Additionally, infrastructure constraints led the Panama Canal Authority to restrict the number of ships that could pass each day.

The principal commodity groups carried through the Canal are motor vehicles, petroleum products, grains, coal, and coke.

Market SegmentTransits (#)Net Tonnage (thousands)
Container2,787192,760
Dy Bulk2,64974,549
Chemical Tankers2,19648,825
Liquefied Petroleum Gas1,75764,969
Vehicle Carriers81349,871
Refrigerated5465,610
General Cargo5196,655
Crude Product Tankers49916,052
Liquefied Natural Gas32637,001
Other3061,718
Passengers24012,361
Total12,638510,370

According to the Panama Canal Authority, most of its traffic came from containers and dry bulk like soybeans. The world’s largest operator of chemical tankers (Stolt-Nielsen) typically also uses the Canal. However, due to the drought and the backup at the crossing, the operator has decided to reroute its fleet to the Suez Canal.

Although representing the smaller number of crossings, the Canal is also an important route for passengers, with many ocean cruise lines offering popular Panama Canal itineraries that sail through the Canal in the approximately 8-hour passage to their next destination in the opposite ocean.

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