When looking for the best caffeine supplement, the first question to ask yourself is: How do you want to consume your caffeine? Caffeine supplements come in all kinds of forms, everything from traditional pills and gummies to newfangled vapes and patches. While they’re all effective, they all have pros and cons.
Below, we’ll go through some of the most unique kinds of caffeine supplements in 2023, and we’ll give you our pick for the best in each category. We’ll explain how you can choose one of these if you’re still unsure what you’re looking for, and we’ll also discuss how to use these products safely.
At a glance:
Best Caffeine Supplements of 2023
As we just saw, the first question to ask yourself is what sort of supplement you’d prefer. Here, we’re going to review four different types of caffeine supplements: vapes, patches, gummies, and shots. (To be clear, we’re talking about shots you drink, not shots you inject!)
Best Caffeine Vaporizer: HELO Air
If you’d like to get your caffeine as quickly as possible, there’s no better option than HELO Air caffeine vaporizers from MELO Labs. As we’ll explain more later on, vaporizers are by far the fastest and most efficient way to get a supplement into your bloodstream. And ours are the safest and tastiest on the market.
Safe and Tasty
We’ve worked hard to make our vaporizers as safe as possible. While other vaporizers contain ingredients like vitamin E acetate (known to cause lung injury), propylene glycol (a petroleum byproduct), or nicotine, our vaporizers are free from all of these ingredients. In fact, apart from caffeine, we only use two additional ingredients: organic vegetable glycerin and natural flavors.
And with ten flavors to choose from, you’re sure to find at least one or two you’ll really like. Some of the most popular flavors include strawberry lemonade, watermelon lime, and gush (which tastes like Starburst), but every flavor is highly rated.
Fast-acting and Effective
You’ll get about 1.3 mg of caffeine per ten puffs — we know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but as you’ll see from reading the reviews, these vapes work great for those with high caffeine tolerance. You’ll get the boost you need without the jitters that come from excessive caffeine.
In fact, some customers find they only need a few puffs to feel the effects. (And many are used to drinking multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks per day.) Because these work so fast, you can wait just 10-15 minutes in between puffs to see if you’ll need more. You can always take more puffs as needed throughout the day.
We also now offer HELO Plus, which lasts twice as long as the original HELO caffeine vaporizers. While the original HELO caffeine vaporizers have about 400 inhales per device, HELO Plus has about 800 inhales. And at $15 for the original and $25 for the plus, these devices offer by far the most bang for your buck of any of the caffeine supplements on this list.
Many customers even comment that they save a lot of money on coffee or energy drinks by switching to our caffeine vaporizers. So, give these a try if you’re looking for tasty, fast-acting caffeine that’ll save you money.
Best Caffeine Patch: HELO Patch
We know not everyone wants to vape, so we’ve created another alternative caffeine supplement: HELO Patch. These patches are a great option for those who aren’t looking for something extra to consume. Simply stick one of these patches on your thigh, shoulder, wrist, or any other veinous area (that’s been thoroughly cleaned).
A box contains 15 patches for just $10.99, making each patch less than a dollar. As you’ll soon see, that makes these patches significantly more cost effective than the next two caffeine supplements on this list.
Many caffeine supplements give you a brief spike followed by a crash, but not these patches. Each patch has the delayed-release caffeine equivalent to a few cups of coffee, but you won’t feel it all at once. The effect is long-lasting and steady.
In fact, HELO Patch caffeine patches can last up to 6-8 hours. Of course, you don’t have to leave the patch on for that long — you can remove it whenever you need to — but these are best for those who really need their caffeine boost to last all day.
Bonus Ingredients to Counteract Jitters and Keep You Focused
In addition to natural caffeine, our patches also include additional ingredients that help keep you energized while counteracting the unpleasant side effects of caffeine. These include green tea extract, vitamin B12, and taurine.
Green tea is one of the healthiest sources of caffeine available, and you still get those health benefits when you apply it to your skin (as explained in a review from the journal Molecules). Plus, green tea contains l-theanine, which counteracts the jitters you get from caffeine and helps keep you focused.
Meanwhile, vitamin B12 is essential for cellular energy production (according to an article from the journal Nutrients), and it’s absorbed even better when you take it with caffeine. And a review from Molecular Nutrition and Food Research explains taurine supplementation can boost energy metabolism. So, altogether, these ingredients keep you energized and focused without jitters.
Best Caffeine Gummy: Caffeine Bullet Chews
For those who prefer something sweet and chewy, the caffeine chews from Caffeine Bullet are a great option. A bag contains 16 chews, and each chew contains 85 mg of caffeine (which is about as much caffeine as you’d get from a cup of coffee). They come in two flavors: “Chocolit Orange” and “Mintense Caffeine” (which contains bonus electrolytes).
In addition to caffeine, each chew contains 3.2 grams of sugar, 10 mg of sodium, and 0.9 grams of fat. They are gluten free, but both flavors also contain egg white powder, so unfortunately they’re not suitable for vegans or those with egg allergies. If you’re looking for vegan or sugar-free caffeine gummies, check out our post dedicated to caffeine gummies.
Note that these are not cheap: At $16 per bag, each chew is about a dollar. The price goes down if you buy in bulk, though. A bag of 40 is about $25, bringing the price per chew down to just over $0.60. So, if you don’t have an egg allergy and want something chewy, give these a try.
Best Energy Shot: 5-Hour Energy Shots Extra Strength
The 5-Hour Energy Shots Extra Strength have the most caffeine of any item on this list, by far. Not only do these have 230 mg of caffeine per serving (equivalent to about two and a half cups of coffee), but they also contain taurine, glucuronic acid, malic acid, n-acetyl l-tyrosine, l-phenylalanine, and citicoline.
Each of these ingredients helps keep you energized and focused for an extended period of time. For instance, taurine is an essential amino acid that supports energy metabolism, and citicoline is a mononucleotide that supports memory and focus. With so much caffeine and so many bonus ingredients per shot, many customers drink half a shot at a time.
These shots come in three flavors: grape, berry, and blue raspberry. One box contains 30 shots, and the price per box is over $60. Like the Caffeine Bullet chews, these are not cheap: The price per chew is over $2, but keep in mind you’re getting the equivalent of two and a half cups of coffee as well as numerous other beneficial ingredients with each shot.
Note that these shots contain zero sugar, but they are sweetened with an artificial sweetener (sucralose). If you’d like to see other options for energy shots, see our energy shots post.
Caffeine Supplements Showdown: Find Your Favorite Form
In this section, we’ll explain how different types of caffeine supplements compare to each other in terms of bioavailability and how quickly they’re absorbed. We’ll look at four categories (matching the four categories above): pills and gummies, liquids, vapes, and patches.
Caffeine Pills and Gummies — Slow and Low Bioavailability
You may have noticed we didn’t include any caffeine pills, caffeine capsules, or caffeine tablets in our list. This is for a good reason: Despite being one of the most popular caffeine supplements, caffeine pills may be one of the least effective.
According to an article from Medicare Europe, your body only absorbs about 39%-53% of the contents of dietary supplements from pills, on average. What’s more, it’ll take your digestive system about 20-30 minutes to break the pill down before its contents can be absorbed. Absorption takes time too, so, the total amount of time it can take for you to feel the effects of a pill from start to finish may be upwards of an hour.
Like caffeine pills, caffeine gummies also need to be broken down by the stomach and digested before they can be used, so their effects are likely to be similar. Since you chew them before swallowing them, your stomach may be able to break them down a little faster, but they also tend to have a shorter shelf-life than pills, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.
The best caffeine pills have additional ingredients to increase the speed of absorption, but if you really want something fast-acting, it’s best to go with another type of supplement.
Liquid Caffeine — Faster and Better Bioavailability
Liquids such as caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and pre workout supplements may be preferable to caffeine pills and gummies in terms of speed and bioavailability. The article from Medicare Europe suggests liquid supplements have an average of 98% bioavailability and can be absorbed in 1-4 minutes (though it may take up to 15-20 minutes to feel the effects).
While liquids still have to pass through your digestive system, they don’t have to be broken down. This is why they tend to work more quickly and efficiently than gummies and pills. So, those looking for a more fast-acting caffeine supplement may be more interested in energy shots than gummies or pills.
Caffeine Vapes — Fastest and Best Bioavailability
If you want the fastest-acting caffeine available, stick to caffeine vapes. Vaporizers bypass your digestive system altogether, meaning the caffeine gets into your bloodstream directly from your lungs. You’ll feel the effects in as little as 10-15 minutes.
In terms of bioavailability, caffeine vapes appear to have all the other supplements beat. While scientific research has yet to catch up, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests caffeine vaporizers have much better bioavailability than any other type of supplement, considering you’ll need way less caffeine when you inhale it than you would normally get from beverages.
That said, we realize there are legitimate concerns about vaping, since vaporizers haven’t been around very long and more research needs to be done. For those who are on the fence about vaping, you do have other options that work better than pills.
Caffeine Patches — Long-lasting Energy
These are a relatively new product, even newer than vaporizers. As such, there’s almost no good scientific research on caffeine patches. It’s hard to compare these to the other supplements in terms of speed and bioavailability.
But from what we’ve seen so far, caffeine patches are one of the longest-lasting caffeine supplements you can get. This is the main advantage of choosing a caffeine patch: You’ll be feeling your caffeine boost for upwards of 6 to 8 hours, unlike the caffeine boost you get from beverages or pills. They’re meant to be long-lasting.
We realize caffeine patches may be new to you, so take a look at our article on caffeine patches for more information.
Caffeine Supplements Safety
Now that we’ve looked at some of the most popular forms of caffeine supplements on the market, you may be wondering how safe these all are. The short answer is that caffeine supplements are very safe for those who are old enough to use them. (We don’t recommend caffeine supplements for those under 18.)
Caffeine overdoses are rare, and fatal caffeine overdoses are nearly unheard of. That said, overdose is more likely with some supplements than others. The primary factors that contribute to caffeine overdose are the amount of caffeine in the supplement and how easy it is to take multiple doses of the supplement.
Check the Amount of Caffeine Per Dose
For instance, pre workout supplements tend to have extremely high doses of caffeine, so these are not for the faint of heart. The same is true of many energy drinks and energy shots. It’s important to understand how much caffeine is in each of these supplements.
Note that a cup of coffee contains about 90 mg of caffeine, so compare this to the amount of caffeine you see on any supplement, and make sure you understand how to measure a serving.
Stick to One Dose at a Time
Meanwhile, pills and gummies make it easy to take too much caffeine — especially gummies, which are basically candy. When you use these types of supplements, make sure you understand how much a serving is, and wait a while to see if you need more before taking more.
Similarly, with vaporizers, make sure you understand how much caffeine is in one inhale or puff. Thankfully, when it comes to vaporizers, you don’t need to wait as long in between puffs since these get absorbed much more quickly than a caffeine pill or gummy (as we saw above).
Try MELO Labs for All Your Caffeine Needs
To recap, there are tons of alternative caffeine supplements on the market. For something sweet and chewy, try Caffeine Bullet energy chews, and for a liquid shot that provides a high dose of caffeine and other beneficial ingredients, go with 5-Hour Energy Shots Extra Strength.
But if you want energy that’s long-lasting or fast-acting, choose the caffeine supplements from MELO Labs. Go with HELO Patch for a sustained energy boost that lasts up to 6-8 hours, or try HELO Air to get your caffeine supplement as quickly as possible. Or try both to experience the advantages of both supplements.