Some people find coffee essential for waking up in the morning, others use it to fuel intense workouts, and some, including me, drink it for gastronomical pleasure.
Many of us wonder if coffee is the best choice for our health, or not. Some dieticians have criticized coffee as it contains empty calories. This is especially true for those who are on a low-carb diet. While this might be true for some coffee recipes, there is one way you can drink a coffee and not worry, even if you are on a low calorie diet.
There is another school of thought that believes coffee can increase metabolism and cut down on fat. At the end of the day, the important question is: “How many carbs does coffee have?”
Coffee Nutrition Information
Coffee also contains vitamins and minerals and other micronutrients such as phytonutrients and antioxidants. While the vitamin and mineral content is nothing worth noting, the antioxidant properties of coffee are amazing, and coffee is in fact the most important source of antioxidants in the standard American diet.
For every 100ml of brewed beverage, coffee contains the following micronutrients: Potassium – 92mg, Magnesium 8mg, Manganese – 0.05mg, Riboflavin – 0.01mg, Niacin – 0.7mg, and 40mg caffeine.
The brewing method, the recipe, and the roast level also dictate these numbers, as well as the concentration.
Are Coffee’s Carbohydrates Natural?
In addition to proteins and fats, carbohydrates is one of three key macronutrients that our bodies require. Carbohydrates are important nutrients that provide energy for our bodies.
How does coffee rate on the carbometer? It’s very, very low. If we’re talking about black coffee, a 6 ounce cup, (a standard coffee serving) contains under 1 gram of carbs. For those who count calories, that cup of coffee has under 1 calorie. For keto fans, you won’t break a fast if you drink two servings of coffee. You will stay very nicely in ketosis if you drink two, even three cups of coffee, though that much coffee may make you jittery.
Let’s repeat that so it sinks in: Coffee contains almost no carbs and no calories. It boosts your metabolism, and it gives you a lot of antioxidants, more than anything in your diet. However, this all changes when you add anything to your cup of coffee: cream, sugar, whipped cream, sprinkles, or caramel drizzle.
A drink’s caffeine content does not impact its carbohydrate content. So whether you drink a decaf, or strongly caffeinated cup, the carbs content stays the same.
The Carb Content for Some Coffee and Espresso Drinks
As we already mentioned, popular coffee beverages have high levels of carbohydrate, however drinks made only with espresso and hot water (e.g. an Americano) will not contain carbohydrates.
As soon as you start adding other ingredients than water and coffee beans to your cup of coffee, you will add carbs. Milk, and flavored syrups are common sources.
Plain Espresso and Black Coffee
Plain espresso and plain coffee are almost completely carb-free. This includes an Americano, which is espresso with hot water.
A 12-ounce serving of black coffee (355ml) contains less than 1 gram carbs.
A single shot espresso, (30ml) provides about 0.5 grams.
These are some of the most popular espresso and coffee beverages, along with their potential carb content:
- Café au lait (1 to 1 ratio of black coffee and steamed milk).If you make your drink with 4 ounces (120ml) of whole milk, it will have 6 grams of carbs. Unsweetened almond milk will only give you 1 gram.
- Cappuccino (1-1:1 ratio of espresso and milk to milk foam).A Starbucks 16-ounce (480ml) cappuccino with 2% milk contains 12 grams of carbs.
- Latte (1:3 ratio espresso to milk)
Because it is composed of mostly milk, this beverage has more carbs. You can add 24g of carbs to a single ounce (30ml) of flavored syrup.
- Flat white (1:3 to 2 ratio of espresso to milk and milk to milk foam).
Flat white has about the same milk content as a latte, and so contains a similar amount of carbs.
- Mochaccino (a chocolate cappuccino)
This beverage, also known as a café mocha or mochaccino, is made with milk, chocolate syrup and carbs. 44 grams of carbs are found in a 16-ounce Starbucks mochaccino (480ml) made with 2% milk.
Whipping cream is a popular topping for many coffeehouse favorites. Only 6g (2 tablespoons) of whipped cream can add more 2 grams of carbs to your drink.
You can see that the carbohydrate content of espresso or coffee beverages can differ greatly.
Many coffeehouse drinks have ingredients that increase their carb content. These ingredients include milk, cream, and sugar-containing flavor syrups. Black coffee has almost no carbs, but things change when we serve milky coffees.
How to Make Coffee Low-carb
You might be wondering if you can still enjoy certain coffee drinks despite being on a low carb diet.
Low-carb diets recommend limiting carb intake to 130g per day.
Popular beverages in coffee shops are made to be enjoyed. The problem is that too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.
Beverages in coffee shops can be customized. You can ask your barista for any change to your cup of coffee, and you can customize it so it’s very low on carbs.
The amount of carbs in each drink will depend on the ingredients that are used. Whole milk, for example, has more carbs than unsweetened almond milk.
You can still enjoy a coffeehouse favorite even if you adhere to this limit. Here are some tips:
- Reduce the beverage size
You can order your drink with less milk or a smaller one.
- Avoid carb-rich drinks.
You can order it without whipped cream and flavored syrups.
- Choose sugar-free
Get flavored drinks made with sugar-free syrups. These syrups have fewer carbs that regular syrups. Better yet, just don’t get flavorings. They are not healthy anyway.
- Serve yourself.
You can add milk, or cream to your black coffee at the coffee shop, so you have control over how much.
- You can also try non-dairy: Unsweetened Nondairy milk
Add it to your coffee. Nondairy milks such as soy, almond cashew and hemp have far fewer carbs than dairy milk or sweetened milks.
- If you are on a Keto diet you can add heavy cream. This will add calories from fat, but will reduce the amount of carbs in your drink. More about keto coffee in the next section.
Coffeehouse beverages can be customized to be low-carb. You can customize your coffeehouse beverages by following these tips: ordering smaller sizes, skipping the syrup or whipped cream, and adding your milk.
What Is Keto Coffee?
To be honest, there is no such a thing as keto coffee. Coffee, because of the low carbs content, is inherently keto. To qualify as a keto, a food or a beverage has to contain no carbs. Which black coffee qualifies as, as we established at the beginning of the article.
The problem is when we add things to our coffee. If you absolutely need to change the taste of your coffee, or to add a creamer, because of a sensitive stomach, the best addition is heavy cream. Adding heavy cream makes your coffee almost a bulletproof coffee. I like the bulletproof coffee idea, it’s a great concept. But if you ask me, I think it’s a bit too much marketing around the idea.
The Bottom Line
Is it possible to drink coffee on a low-carb diet?
You can still enjoy coffee even if you are on a low-carb lifestyle.
If it’s black or espresso coffee, or an Americano, yes. Be mindful if you are a coffee drinker who adds extras to your cup.
This is particularly important when you are looking at creamers. They come in a variety of flavors, from basic half-and-half to nut milk alternatives to highly-flavored non dairy creamers. Each has its own carb count that can vary greatly.
Don’t focus only on total calories when looking at the nutrition facts label. This includes fats and protein. “Look for ‘added sugar’ under ‘Total Carbohydrate’. This will let you know if the carbohydrate is from healthy milk sugar or non-nutritious extra sugar.
Plain espresso and black coffee contain very little carbs. They typically have less than 1 gram per traditional serving. However, you can increase that number by adding other ingredients.
You can still have a delicious mocha, cappuccino or latte regardless of whether you are following a low-carb diet or strictly watching your carbs.
Ask your barista for a few adjustments.