Tastless, cheap liquid caffeine
November 29, 2013 8:07 PM   Subscribe

For some time now, I've been getting my AM caffeine through these fancy "sparkling energy water" drinks I get at the health food store. They are totally unsweetened carbonated water with caffeine. These drinks are expensive, and earlier tonight my husband and I had a come to jesus talk about our out of control grocery budget. My daily sparkling energy water can has got to go.

I don't like coffee and I don't want to make tea every morning. I don't want to drink anything with calories. Ideally, I would like a simple form of liquid caffeine I could just add the necessary amount of drops to tap water or mineral water. Does this exist and if so where can I buy it? I can't find anything.

I could just take a no-doz but I like to be able to sip something. Maybe that is all I can do though. Any help would be very appreciated!
posted by long haired child to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Those weird water enhancers are now available in a few tea varieties. They have caffeine but I am not sure how much. They seem to be disliked so they are often on special where I am (and I like them just fine) They are Red Rose brand. 24-ish servings is just a few bucks. Almost no calories.
posted by jessamyn at 8:10 PM on November 29, 2013

You could make yourself a jug of tea over the weekend and keep it in the fridge, having a glass every morning.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

"Wake-up" tablets or diet soda?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2013

I've ordered liquid caffeine online from two different sources. Here's one.

I'm such a greedy-guts when it comes to caffeine + sparkling water, though, I was drinking waaaay too much of it when I had such (relatively) cheap, easy access to it (vs. having to walk to the store and shell out big bucks on a per can basis).

As a result, I noticed I was getting aggro and weird. But if you have better self control, it's definitely an economical, fun way to make your own Frankendrinks.
posted by nacho fries at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Instant tea's been a thing for decades, but only lately is it packaged and sold as an "energy" drink. However, if tea's still on the table except for the trouble of making it, how about making iced tea by the pitcher? You can balance your desire for sweetness over the desire for calories, but a pitcher of tea can last as long as you want. Load it up with mint and/or lemon for additional flavor, if you want. There are plenty of seasonal spices that work as well-- cinnamon, orange, a little clove, cardamom, etc.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2013

You could also peruse think geek for other forms of caffeine delivery

posted by jsturgill at 8:16 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Diet Coke is my version of this.
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on November 29, 2013

The Mio Energy drops (or the generic Target/supermarket version thereof) are this, basically.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:19 PM on November 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Thanks everyone! Tea is nice sometimes, but for everyday I just want something I can mix into water with as little flavor as possible.
posted by long haired child at 8:19 PM on November 29, 2013

A healthier, saner alternative to the liquid caffeine I mentioned above is to cold-brew a big batch of yerba mate, and mix it with sparkling water. This is by far the cleanest, sanest buzz you can sip -- you get all the picker-upper with none of the twitchiness of liquid caffeine. Something about it triggers a clear-headed, happy, mellow-but-alert "high" -- it doesn't whack you over the head, but eases you into the buzz, and there's no crash-and-burn later on. Not everyone likes the flavor of yerba mate, but you can spruce it up with a squeeze of lime and some Stevia.
posted by nacho fries at 8:21 PM on November 29, 2013 [8 favorites]

You know you can just buy caffeine, right? It's not a controlled substance, and the therapeutic index is so freakishly high (80-100) that it's totally safe to eyeball the dosage with a measuring spoon.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:29 PM on November 29, 2013 [13 favorites]

Sorry, I went afield with that last reply, since you are looking for flavorless stuff.

Here's another online source with a "free" sample (shipping charged). Note that this one ships from a faraway land, so it takes a lot longer to get to you.
posted by nacho fries at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2013

You don't need hot water to make tea. A teabag stuffed into a bottle of water will eventually turn into diluted cold tea. I've consumed a ton of green tea made this way and the taste is not very strong.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:54 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Peeps, OP has reiterated that s/he doesn't want tea or flavored caffeinated bevvies of any ilk.

One more option if you don't want to roll with the prefab liquid caffeine: you can get Jet-Away caffeine tablets (far superior to No-Doz, etc., and available for cheap from amazon), and dissolve them in warm water, and run the solution through a fine sieve to filter out all the filler gunk. Keep track of the amount of pills in relation to the amount of water to calculate your single-serving dose of liquid caffeine. Let it cool off, store in the fridge, give it a shake/stir, and mix it into your bubbly water. Tastes only slightly of ass when mixed with enough h20.

I don't trust that powdered "supplement" stuff from amazon. Difficult to control the powder, and you can easily eff yourself up. Its provenance is also dubious. Not sure I'd want to risk getting a gullet-full of melamine with my caffeine fix...
posted by nacho fries at 9:07 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

How the heck is that caffeine link now $14.99, down from $135???

I really want to know somehow.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:13 PM on November 29, 2013

If you're concerned about purity, you can order it from Sigma Aldrich instead. It's $67/kg, about twice the cost of the Amazon link.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:30 PM on November 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do the caffeine and the sipping have to come from the same source? That is, could you ingest liquid or powdered caffeine when you need it, and then drink water (or plain unflavored seltzer, if you like the bubbles) to have something to sip all day?
posted by decathecting at 9:44 PM on November 29, 2013

Nacho fries, have you ever done that trick with Jet Away and can you vouch that it wouldn't be too horrible tasting? that sounds like it might be a very good solution!
posted by long haired child at 9:52 PM on November 29, 2013

Kopiko Indonesian coffee lollies are great and suckable and are available on amazon.com. They are tasty and delicious and deliver a strong boot of caffeine, although they have some sugar.
posted by goo at 9:59 PM on November 29, 2013

I would like to recommend against USP grade caffeine unless you have a lab scale in your kitchen that can measure to the milligram. The sparkling water you are drinking has 80-90 mg of caffeine per 8 fluid ounces. While individual sensitivities very, after a single dose of 300-400 mg, you can start feeling pretty bad. The potency of caffeine is such that a little goes a long way, so I wouldn't advise working with pure caffeine in your kitchen. You would need to store it as you would any poison if you have children or pets.

I think the safest course is to take a caffeine pill in a known dose according to the drug instructions. If you want to sip something, sip water after you swallow the pill. FWIW, caffeine has a bitter taste, so the "tasteless" part of this question is a tall order if you aren't adding caffeine to something like juice to cover up the bitterness.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:15 PM on November 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

can you vouch that it wouldn't be too horrible tasting?

My friend, you are dealing with a professional here. I just did a taste test, just for you: one 100mg Jet-Alert (sorry, got the name wrong earlier) pill dissolved/crushed in a few tablespoons of hot tap water, strained through a wire mesh tea strainer, topped up in a cup with 8 oz of L.A.'s finest tap water, and there is zero flavor. There is the tell-tale caffeine-feeling on the tongue...sort of an umami-esque tingle -- but no other detectable flavor, of ass or otherwise.

You probably lose some of the original 100mg of caffeine, but on the other hand, you aren't at risk of OD'ing. It's cheap, fast, easily controlled.

Yours in caffeine,
posted by nacho fries at 10:20 PM on November 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


200 mG tablets at any drug store. Notable for potency, source, purity, consistency, availability. Not the cheapest. However, the other attributes have some value.

Always in my man purse, in the event I am caffeine deprived and/or need to be awake without urination penalty, as is the case when dosing coffee on long drives. Does not raise the hackles of the TSA, etc.

However, I do feel there is a difference of some sort in the stimulus I get from equivalent amounts of caffeine from a Diet Coke (and similar) beverages that may be due to beverage engineering. (Those folks are not stupid and they are well funded.) I moderate kidney effects by consuming salty things on long drives.

Still, No-doz is straight caffeine with inert filler in scored pill form in case you want 1/2 dose. Kind of chewable, but a little bitter, to me, anyway.
posted by FauxScot at 11:11 PM on November 29, 2013

No-doz.... 60 count $4 at Rite Aid. Even at 2/day, that's $50/year.
posted by FauxScot at 11:20 PM on November 29, 2013

I've used powdered caffeine in drinks before and would recommend it. The trick to measuring the dose is to make a stock solution. You dissolve the caffeine in some water to make a concentrated solution for say ten days. You can dissolve 1g in 10 T of water (any scale should be decently accurate to do this but personally I would get a hanging scale as they are surprisingly accurate for what you are trying to do. Then when you want your pickmeup it is just a tablespoon of the stock solution and add it to whatever you want. Pure caffeine does have a taste though, but I also think that seltzer has a horrible taste so it would probably hide fairly well in there.

Note to ordering from Aldrich, I would spend the extra and get USP grade and not the bulk grade. The USP specifications are designed to be used as pharmaceuticals and should be free from toxic heavy metal impurities. I would guess that the reagent grade is as well because it is probably acquired from supercritical CO2 decaffienation of coffee, but for the price difference it isn't worth the risk. You can get 250g for 70$ and at 100 mg a dose you've just bought 2500 doses at a total cost of 2.8 cents a dose. If you invest in a sodastream then the cost of the seltzer goes down as well.
posted by koolkat at 3:25 AM on November 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just take a generic No-Doz in the morning and then worry about beverages separately.
posted by radioamy at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2013

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