Coffee vs Matcha – Everything you need to know to make the right choice

Coffee vs Matcha – Everything you need to know to make the right choice

In the recent years, matcha has steadily been gaining in popularity as an ideal coffee replacement. And, for a good reason. It’s packed with nutrients, contains a high level of caffeine and it doesn’t have the bitterness of coffee. But can matcha be a good replacement for an avid coffee drinkers in terms of flavor and energy boosting properties?

This coffee vs matcha overview will tell you everything you need to know when deciding which drink is best suited for your needs and flavor preferences.

Coffee vs Matcha – can they be compared?

Coffee and matcha tea are two different drinks. While it may not seem fair to compare them especially since matcha is only one type of tea, they actually have a lot in common. Both matcha and coffee may provide a myriad of health benefits, have a unique and intense flavor, may be prepared in different ways and have a significant cultural importance.

Is matcha better than coffee? And can it be a strong enough replacement for that early morning coffee that helps you get on your feet?

Matcha vs coffee

Let’s start with the botanical difference.

1. Botanical difference

Coffee is made from the seeds of a plant belonging to Coffea botanical genus. Almost all coffee is made from coffee beans of two species – Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (or Robusta).

Matcha, on the other hand, is made from tea leaves of plant belonging to Camellia sinensis botanical species. Camellia genus has many species, but only Camellia sinensis is used for making matcha green tea. Some other Camellia species may be used for making other types of tea too, but not matcha. Both coffee and matcha tea can be made from different plants belonging to this species.

Both Coffea and Camellia sinensis plants are naturally caffeinated.

2. Growing area

Coffee is grown in many countries across the world, while authentic matcha comes from Japan. Recently, other countries have started producing matcha too. However, because of different growing and processing methods and a different terroir, matcha from some other country will taste differently than matcha from Japan.

Another interesting fact is that both coffee and tea plant need approximately 3-5 years until they are ready for a first harvest.

3. History

Historically, drinking tea is a much older tradition than drinking coffee. Coffee was first used about half a millennium ago. Powdered tea was invented in China over 1000 years ago and became popular in Japan with the rise of Zen Buddhism in the 12th century. But Japanese matcha reached western tea drinkers only recently, and it’s still not as widely available as coffee.

4. Cultural importance

Coffee has a huge cultural importance in western countries, where it’s considered a social ritual, not only an energy boosting drink. However, coffee ceremonies that have more than just a cultural importance are rare and usually only present in some of the oldest coffee-producing countries, such as Eritrea and Ethiopia.

While matcha may not have the same cultural importance in western countries, it’s the most important type of tea in Japan. Matcha is served during a tea ceremony that includes a wide range of utensils and rules and has a strong spiritual and aesthetic meaning, too.

5. Production process

Coffee is made from coffee beans which are actually seeds of coffee fruits. Seeds are usually roasted, although unroasted green coffee is available too. Matcha is made from leaves of the tea plant and has a very complicated production process which includes shading the tea plants before harvesting, steaming tea leaves, removing all veins and stalks and grinding the tea flakes into a superfine powder.

6. Product options

There are hundreds of different coffee options to choose from, depending on the country, roasting level, variety and processing method.

With matcha, there are still hundreds of options to choose from, but all authentic matcha will be grown and ground in Japan. What will differ is the shading length, harvesting time and method, plant variety, even the grinding process.

7. Caffeine content

It’s often considered that coffee has a higher caffeine content than tea. However, the caffeine content will usually be 10-12 milligrams per gram of coffee beans, and for matcha, that number will be significantly higher – 18.9 to 44.4 mg per gram [1]. On average, expect 30 mg of caffeine per 1 chashaku (matcha spoon) of matcha tea.

However, to make a cup of coffee, you will need 5-10 times more coffee than you will need tea powder to make a bowl of matcha tea. That’s why coffee is usually much stronger than any cup of tea.

One serving of matcha tea made with 2 chashaku of tea powder will have approximately 60 mg of caffeine – same as a shot of espresso.

Matcha also contains L-theanine, an important amino acid found in tea plants that may contribute to the calming effect and provide anxiolytics properties. That’s why drinking a cup of matcha will provide a different type of energy, with no jitters, even if the caffeine content is exactly the same as in a cup of coffee.

coffee and tea

8. Health benefits

The main reason behind coffee’s popularity is the energy boosting effect. But coffee may provide additional benefits too. Some of them are the potential cancer prevention, lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases and providing anti-oxidative properties. However, coffee comes with some risks, such as increased anxiety, jitters, and potentially ingesting compounds that may have a toxic properties and increase bad cholesterol [2].

Matcha doesn’t have those side effects. It contains many beneficial compounds including chlorophyl, EGCG, L-theanine, arginine, vitamins and minerals and may help increase attention and work performance [3], provide anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, help lower bad cholesterol and protect against heart diseases, cancer and Type 2 diabetes [4].

Matcha may provide the same benefits and more, minus the side-effects.

9. Flavor differences

Both coffee and matcha have a unique flavor with bitter notes. Regular coffee is often very bitter and matcha will have only a very light bitterness, unless prepared with boiling water.

The flavor nuances of coffee are usually less noticeable unless you opt for specialty coffee. With matcha, you will immediately notice vibrant freshness, sweetness and umami notes. Coffee often has a heavy and strong flavor, while matcha is fresher and sweeter. Coffee is often served with sugar, especially if you drink it without milk. Matcha is already naturally lightly sweet and not nearly as bitter as coffee – so you won’t be needing any sweetener to really enjoy it.

Matcha is a wonderful choice for coffee drinkers that don’t particularly like the flavor of coffee but drink it only to boost their energy.

10. Brewing methods

You can make coffee using different brewing methods, depending on the type. However, unless you are using instant coffee, you will need to brew it. Brewing extracts caffeine and other compounds. Matcha, on the other hand, is not brewed. Since it’s powdered, it’s whisked instead.

You can make both coffee and matcha with water only, with water and milk or only with milk. You can easily replace matcha with coffee to make a latte, macchiato, affogato or even mocha. Unlike coffee, it’s also possible to add it to cold water or cold milk and enjoy it immediately. Variations are really limitless.

Every drink that you can make with coffee, you can make with matcha too. And some more.

11. Versatility

You can use coffee for making desserts, such as popular tiramisu, in chocolate or ice creams or for making frostings. But matcha may offer even more options. You can add it to hundreds of treats and desserts, smoothies, oatmeal or even use for making some savory dishes. It’s one of the best ingredients to have in your pantry that will undoubtedly add a new charm to your sweet treats.

Coffee vs matcha

Coffee vs Matcha Recap

Both coffee and matcha have been around for centuries. In western countries, coffee is a drink of choice as it’s been available for much longer than matcha tea. However, with all the potential health benefits that surpass those of coffee, milder and rich flavor with less bitterness and the same energy boosting properties with the addition of calming effect, matcha has been rapidly gaining in popularity. It’s an amazing alternative for coffee drinkers that want to switch to tea, but still enjoy the rich flavor.




Made from different Coffea plants

Made from Camellia sinensis plant

Produced around the world

Produced in Japan

Has about 500 years of history

Has over 800 years of history

Mostly social and cultural drink

Mostly spiritual and cultural drink

Typically prepared at home

Until recently, it wasn’t typically prepared at home

Made from seeds (coffee beans)

Made from tea leaves

Simpler production process

Complicated production process and shading

Available in different grinds

Always powdered

Many types to choose from

Many types to choose from

Has a lower caffeine content per gram

Has a higher caffeine content per gram

Higher caffeine in a prepared cup than matcha

Lower caffeine in a prepared cup than coffee

May cause jitters

Typically, won’t cause jitters because it contains L-theanine

May cause some side-effects

Usually, won’t cause any side-effects

May provide health benefits

May provide a wider range of health benefits than coffee

Bitterness is usually strongly pronounced

Bitterness is often very mild

Brewed (except instant coffee) – you drink the extracted nutrients

Whisked – you drink the whole leaf

You can use it for making a whole range of drinks with milk and other ingredients

You can use it for making the same drinks as with coffee

Used in baking and making chocolate and ice creams

Used in baking, making chocolate, ice creams and for making smoothies, porridge, etc.

Usually needs a sweetener, unless it’s made with milk

Don’t need any sweeteners







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