The Uprising of Alternative Energy Drinks

There’s no denying that traditional energy drinks make up a large portion of the CPG sector. But while these big names are still some of the fastest-growing products in the field, the demand for cleaner, healthier alternatives has grown even faster. 

We’ve seen plenty of other food and beverage sectors getting a “green” makeover. So it’s not surprising that energy drinks are moving away from high levels of sugar and caffeine.

Public health issues and government-led initiatives, like the soda tax found in cities and states across the US, have left consumers and CPG owners alike asking why energy drinks are made the way they are.

It was only a matter of time before major beverage companies took notice of this switch to alternative energy drinks. Even Coca-Cola has joined in, releasing an energy drink that claims to be fueled by naturally-derived sources.


What are alternative energy drinks?

Alternative energy drinks are beverages that aim to boost an individual’s energy levels without the high sugar and caffeine content found in traditional energy drinks. 

Companies behind alternative energy drinks are looking to improve consumers’ lives and health by offering a more natural alternative that still provides the energy boost they need. They also want to break the cycle of extreme highs and uncomfortable comedowns that many traditional energy drink consumers end up in. 

Current alternative energy drink trends

The search for the “next big thing” in energy drink production is already underway. Beverage brands are trying a number of ways to give consumers the energy boost they need while still using natural, healthier ingredients. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of trends we’re already seeing on the shelves. 


Mashups are an exciting trend we have seen before in many other food and beverage areas. The idea is to mix two or more products (that wouldn’t normally be combined) to create a unique flavor. 

In the case of alternative energy drinks, mashups are being created to give the consumer all the benefits that come with natural caffeine sources, while cutting back on the sugar and other unhealthy aspects that come with traditional energy drinks. 

Sparking drinks with natural flavors

Brands like Tenzing focus on using alternative ingredients to provide a healthy, long-lasting energy boost. The energy comes from natural ingredients that contain key vitamins and minerals. Meanwhile, these brands are still offering their consumers a familiar experience with big flavors and bubbles. 

Sparkling and RTD coffee

Coffee fans are well catered for these days, even when they’re browsing the fridges at a bodega. Ready to drink (RTD) coffee has become commonplace across the globe with a large range of flavors and styles to choose from.

From Nitro-brew coffee to pre-made iced lattes and even sparkling coffee, coffee lovers never need to go without — even when they can’t find a Starbucks!  


Tea-based infusions

Some brands are looking to tea as a source of caffeine. Matcha and green teas are naturally high in caffeine and packed with antioxidants to give the consumer a natural energy boost. 

What to look for in alternative energy drinks

With so many different options on the market, it can be tough to figure out which alternative energy drink is for you. Are you looking for a powder or tablet solution you can drop in water as and when you need? Are you looking for a quick jolt of energy? 

There’s a lot to consider before you even think about what flavor you fancy. 

B vitamins

B vitamins are a great source of natural energy. They help the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which is a naturally occurring sugar that gives you energy. There are many studies that show taking B vitamins — particularly B12 and B6 — can help naturally boost energy levels and reduce fatigue. 

Zero added sugar

The whole point of alternative energy drinks is to offer consumers a healthier alternative to traditional sugary energy drinks. However, it’s good to remember that fruits and many other natural ingredients contain sugar too. 

A beverage that claims to have zero sugar may have artificial sweeteners to replace natural sugar found in fruit. Whereas a beverage that states it has zero added sugar will contain those natural sugars and can indicate a less processed beverage. 

Adaptogens, i.e. ginseng

You have probably heard about adaptogens without realizing what they are. Adaptogens are plants or herbs that can help your body to deal with stress. They are used in Ayurvedic treatments and are now found in almost all energy drinks in some form. 

Adaptogens include:

  • Ginseng
  • Eleuthero
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Ashwagandha  

It’s important to note that some adaptogens may interfere with regular medication.

Lower caffeine content

Traditional energy drink brands will try to cram as much caffeine as they can into their beverages. However, too much caffeine can have dangerous effects on the human body. 

Most alternative energy drinks will still use caffeine — just far less caffeine than traditional energy drinks. In some cases, alternative energy drinks may have no caffeine at all.


3 examples of alternative energy drinks

RUNA energy

RUNA offers a completely plant-based beverage that uses Guayusa, a “super leaf” found in the Amazonian rainforest. While not a tea leaf, RUNA brews these leaves in the same way you would a tea, to give you more natural caffeine than a cup of coffee! 

Dare Sparkling Coffee

Iconic coffee brand Dare has recently added an interesting offering to their range of cold coffees. Dark Sparkling is a cold-brewed coffee that’s lightly carbonated to give coffee lovers a fizzy drink with that familiar coffee taste. 


Purdeys is one of the original alternative energy drink brands, having operated for over 30 years in the UK. The brand has been working with only natural ingredients since day one, offering a refreshing sparkling drink with plenty of adaptogens and b-vitamins to give you that boost you need.

To learn more about healthy food and beverage alternatives, make sure to check out the rest of our blog. At Buffalo Market, we cover everything from the best foods to increase your energy levels to health-boosting tips.

More Like This