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Yerba Mate vs Coffee

Dec 02, 2014

Perhaps you’re thinking about replacing coffee with yerba mate. So you’re now wondering, what’s the difference between yerba mate caffeine and coffee caffeine? Good question. And it may surprise you that caffeine apparently has different effects, depending on the plant it’s contained within. Today, we’ll shed some light on the “Yerba Mate vs Coffee” debate.

Though mate has been around for hundreds of years, it has never reached the same level of popularity as traditional tea and coffee, simply because, outside of South America, is has remained a novelty herb.

Today, we’ll bring you up to speed on yerba mate, leveling the playing ground, and allow you to decide which is the superior caffeinated drink.

What is Yerba Mate?

Organic Mission Yerba Mate TeaYerba Mate (yer-BAH MAH-tay) is a holly shrub native to Paraguay, Argentina, Southern Brazil and Uruguay.The Guaraní Tribe of Paraná have used it for millennia, relying on its restorative, uplifting, and medicinal properties.

With more healing compounds than green tea and equal amounts of caffeine as coffee, mate uniquely stimulates the mind and body without crashing or jittery effects.

Yerba Mate Benefits

  • Stimulates the mind and body—induces a sense of wellbeing.
  • Reduces: high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, colon cancer, type II diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis; natural laxative; anti-inflammatory; anti-bacterial; etc.
  • Extraordinarily high antioxidant (neutralize disease causing molecules) and mineral levels.
  • Promotes longevity.
  • Appears to be adaptogenic, with high saponin (restorative compounds) and chlorogenic acid content.

Yerba Mate Negatives

  • May agitate some people with hypersensitivity to caffeine.
  • Drinking very hot mate (boiled water) and smoking shows possible association with throat cancer (as with any boiled liquid, e.g. coffee, tea).

What is Coffee?

Caffeine in CoffeeCoffee, discovered around the sixth century by Abyssinian/Ethiopian shepherds, is perhaps the most ubiquitous stimulating drink throughout the Americans and Europe.

With its ability to temporarily increase brain and muscle function, it has become wildly popular as the “go to” drink, fueling the global corporate system.

Coffee Benefits

  • Temporarily enhances brain and muscle function.
  • Chlorogenic and caffeic acid may prevent bad cholesterol (LDL) from narrowing arteries (atherosclerosis) — acting as strong antioxidants.
  • May decrease chances of developing type II diabetes and regulate glucose levels.
  • May aid digestion / laxative properties.

Coffee Negatives

  • Highly acidic: may cause or irritate ulcers, IBS, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, acid reflux, heartburn, etc. (study the effects of acidic foods for more info.)
  • Some heavy drinkers experience “jitters,” “crashing,” and “burnt-out” effects of daily consumption.
  • May interfere with the absorption of minerals: calcium, zinc, magnesium etc.
  • Promotes cortisol, the stress hormone, which compromises the immune system.

Yerba Mate Caffeine vs Coffee Caffeine

Yerba mate and coffee both contain approximately 75–80 mg of caffeine per cup. However, the caffeine in mate seems to work differently. While several cups of coffee easily cause jitters and crashing effects, mate has the unique dual action of stimulating and soothing, even after several servings.

This may be due to mate’s adaptogenic properties, helping to regulate all body systems. Relaxing compounds such as theophylline and theobromine may also be responsible.

Results of Yerba Mate versus Coffee

Coffee and yerba mate both contain antioxidants and beneficial compounds. Neither drink is perfect and both have flaws. However, we must intelligently consider the overall safety of each, given that most people regularly consume substantial amounts of their preferred stimulating beverage.

Mate’s restorative ability on the mind and body are not easily matched by any caffeine containing drink. Coffee’s ability to stimulate brain and muscle function is noteworthy, but its acidic nature and well established anecdotal evidence of causing “crashing” and “jitters” has become clear beyond conjecture.

We hope this presentation has helped you better understand the differences between coffee and yerba mate. If you’re also interested in comparing yerba mate to green tea, here’s a link to our research.

See how yerba mate compares to these herbs:

yerba mate vs green tea >>

yerba mate vs rooibos >>



Yerba Mate

  • Elvira de Mejia, “Yerba Mate (ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations.”
  • Andreas S. Conforti, “Yerba Mate (ilex paraguariensis) Consumption is Associated with Higher Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women.”


  • Charles W. Trigg, “Pharmacology of the Coffee Drink.”
  • Melodie Anne Coffman, “Effects of Coffee on Digestion.”
  • Neil Osterweil, “Coffee and Your Health.”
  • Niels P. Riksen, Editorial to “Caffeinated Coffee Blunts the Myocardial Protective Effects of Statins Against Ischemia–reperfusion Injury in the Rat.”(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2493530/)
  • Jose Ángel, “In Vitro Antioxidant Activity of Coffee Compounds and Their Metabolites.”

Coffee pharmacology is significantly more established than yerba mate pharmacology, as mate is a relatively unknown herb in the United States, Europe, and countries familiar with traditional tea and coffee. We’ve tried to present the most recent information available on each plant.

The content in this presentation has not been approved by the FDA and is not meant to replace medical advice from your primary care physician. It is offered as information only, for the use and promotion of good health in cooperation with your licensed doctor.


  1. Brianna

    Thank you for writing out this side-by-side comparison as it was great to see (in one single article) the differences between Yerba Mate and coffee. I have been relying on coffee in the mornings but I can’t quite kick the creamer habit! I like the taste of Yerba Mate tea so I might pick some up again at my local Trader Joe’s and see if I can harness some of the powers of “mate” (which I require no extra creamer for)!
    I also suffer from a couple of the “cons” in the coffee section so I might actually see some digestive relief too if I can kick the coffee habit.

  2. Arthur

    Very clearly written. Thank you! I love both coffee and mate. With coffee it is easily to drink too much, util irritation. Mate can interfier with the sleep, if I drink it late in the afternoon.

  3. Jessi

    I had to give up coffee after developing gastritis. The condition wasn’t related to my coffee consumption but was caused by an allergic reaction to food. Anyway, I have never had coffee jitters but after months of drinking mostly green tea for caffeine, I do get them from yerba mate. I can occasionally handle a little bit of coffee now but coffee still doesn’t give me jitters, just yerba. But I do like yerba and it does a lot more for waking me up and making me feel alert than green tea. I think the jitters part just has to do with individuals and coffee is consumed by a greater number of individuals so more people have had a problem with it than the less frequently consumed counterpart. When I was able to drink coffee and my habit than was perhaps excessive, drinking yerba never bothered me either.

  4. thatwunguy05

    I LOVVVE mate, but there is something that most of us do not know about coffee. 95% of the roasted coffee in the world is stale. This is because the beans start to lose many beneficial compounds and start to oxidize after just 1 week from the roasting date. Most studies on coffee are done with stale coffee. Roasting your own green coffee beans on the stove is a completely different experience -a whole new world- when brewed within about 3 days from the roasting date. In my experience, one cup of this is equivalent to about 3 cups of store-bought. And without jitters. Coffee is actually not as bad as the research shows- we just strayed away from preparing it properly. =)

  5. Oscar

    MATE has the same withdrawal syndroms as coffee….just try to put it away.

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