How Many Calories Are In Coffee? Debunking Common Misconceptions

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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Calories in coffee can quickly add up. Here's what you need to know to enjoy coffee while keeping the calories down!

Calories in coffee can quickly add up. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy coffee while keeping the calories down!

For many of us, coffee is more than a beverage; it’s a morning ritual and our preferred drink throughout the day. This begs the question: Are there any calories in coffee and coffee beans?

This question gets to the heart of our culture, where dietary choices and healthy lifestyles reign supreme.

In this post, I’ll answer any questions you may have about the calories in this beloved beverage. The answers may surprise you!

What Are Calories Anyway?

In today’s health-conscious world, where we scrutinize everything we eat and drink, you may have heard the term calories just about everywhere. But what do calories mean?

Calories are the units of energy your body uses during food digestion and absorption. Food provides more energy to the body if it has more calories.

Coffee and Donut Calories

When you take in more calories than your body needs, it converts these units of energy from carbohydrates and protein and stores them as fat. Note that even foods with no fat can have more calories when supplying energy to the body. A perfect example is sugar.

Excess calories are the main cause of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other health complications. For those on a weight loss program, keeping track of how many calories they consume could mean the difference between failure and success.

So, How Many Calories Do I Need?

Various factors, including age, gender, diet, lifestyle and health dictate your recommended daily calorie intake. Generally speaking, men should consume 2,500 calories per day, while women should consume 2,000 calories daily.

But there’s a caveat here: the type of calories you eat or drink matters, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. A 600-calorie lunch of lean protein and steamed vegetables has more health benefits than a 600-calorie crème brûlée-caramel bread pudding. It’s not fair, but it’s true!

How Many Calories Are in Black Coffee?

The answer to this question is not that simple. In short, it all depends on what type of coffee you’re drinking.

Are you drinking espresso or brewed coffee? Are you drinking instant coffee (not likely with me) or pour-over coffee from fresh-ground coffee beans? And how much coffee’s in your cup?

The number of calories in your coffee drink will depend on how you answered the above questions.

A 1-ounce (30 milliliter) espresso shot has only 1-2 calories. The same goes for milk-free espresso variations with no sugar, like ristretto and double espresso.

But where do these calories come from? Coffee calories come from a small amount of mono-unsaturated oils and protein in the coffee bean.

Iced Blended Coffee

Decaf coffee has less calories than regular coffee because decaffeination removes these oils from the coffee bean.

In contrast, an 8-ounce (250-milliliter) cup of plain brewed coffee from fresh-ground coffee beans will contain up to 5 calories. A cup of instant coffee falls within this range, containing only 4 calories.

What about specialty black coffees like an americano and cold brew? As it happens, there’s little difference.

Since a cold brew is coffee grounds steeped in water and an americano is espresso with hot water added, the calories in these drinks remain low. An 8-ounce (250-milliliter) cup of cold brew has 2.4 calories and an americano has 5 calories.

Generally speaking, calories in coffee depend on which coffee you drink and what you add to it. As you’d expect, a tablespoon of sugar, milk or creamer significantly increases your coffee’s calories.

A prime example is bulletproof coffee. Thanks to the addition of butter, ghee or MCT oils, this fat-laden coffee bomb contains as many as 500 calories!

The number of calories in your coffee will also depend on the size of your coffee. Naturally, the smaller the size you order or brew, the fewer the calories.

How Many Calories Are in Specialty Espresso Drinks?

Espresso-based drinks have varying amounts of calories, and it all depends on what you add to your shot. Here’s the number of calories you can expect to find in some common specialty espresso beverages:

Cortado

A Cortado is an espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk. Because of the added cow juice, one 2-ounce (60-milliliter) serving with full-fat milk contains 36 calories.

Latte

Lattes contain one or two shots of espresso and steamed milk, topped off with a thin foam layer. A 12-ounce (330-milliliter) latte with whole milk contains 210 calories.

Still, it all depends on whether you add sugar and the type of milk in your latte. A typical latte will have 150-300 calories.

Chai Tea Latte

Chai Tea Latte

A typical 8-ounce (250-milliliter) chai tea latte with full-fat milk contains 240 calories. Try ordering a dirty chai tea latte from your barista if you’re counting the calories!

Cappuccino

Cappuccinos are one-third espresso, one-third milk and one-third foam. A 12-ounce (330-milliliter) cappuccino prepared with whole milk contains 130 calories.

Sub whole milk for nonfat milk and ask for a dry instead of a wet cappuccino. Your drink will have more foam and only contain 70 calories!

Flat White

On average, an 8-ounce (250-milliliter) flat white delivers around 150 calories. Like other milky drinks, sub whole milk for nonfat or nut milk. This will bring your calorie count down to less than 70.

Mocha

Finally, we reach the mighty mocha, the biggest calorie culprit of all coffee drinks! Due to the addition of chocolate, whole milk and cream, this calorie-dense coffee packs quite a punch. I’m talking as many as 300 calories.

Order a mocha made with dark chocolate and skim milk to cut the calories. Better still, skip the whipped cream altogether!

How to Reduce Calories in Coffee

For many of us (including me), coffee is a non-negotiable. I love it and can’t start my day without my fix. I’m well aware that for many folks, adding milk, sugar, creamer, syrups and other additives makes coffee palatable.

The problem is, all these add-ons pack on the calories!

So, how can you reduce the number of calories in coffee without sacrificing flavor?

I’ve listed four ways below:

Drink Your Coffee Black

How to Reduce Calories in Coffee

Switching from fancy drinks to black coffee may help reduce your calorie intake. Black coffee (espresso or brewed) contains less than 5 calories per cup, unlike some specialty coffee drinks, which may contain as many as 600 calories!

Coffee drinkers who don’t enjoy the bold flavor of black coffee could try drinking black coffee over ice or as a cold brew. You’ll enjoy coffee’s sweeter flavors, still get your daily caffeine fix and reap the health benefits of weight loss with reduced calories.

Use Low-Cal or No-Cal Sweeteners

Added sugar in a coffee drink is one of the main calorie contributors. Using a low-cal or no-cal sweetener such as stevia goes a long way to reducing the calories in your coffee.

You could also try keto-sweeteners like monk fruit, xylitol and erythritol. But, by all means possible, avoidaspartame. This chemical sweetener is a possible carcinogen.

Better still, cut out added sugar and sweeteners in coffee drinks altogether. Do this a tablespoon at a time until you no longer crave it. You may not like it if you have a sweet tooth, but it will benefit your health in the long run!

Sub Whole Milk for Skim Milk

While full-fat milk and sugar in your coffee drink may delight your taste buds, they do pack on the calories. The solution? Go “skinny” or non-dairy!

Sub whole milk or creamer with low-fat or nonfat milk to reduce the calories. Whole milk contains as much as 149 calories per cup, compared to only 89 calories in skim milk.

Even better, ask your barista to substitute dairy milk products in your latte or cappuccino for unsweetened non-dairy milk.

But remember, how much milk, creamer or milk substitute you add also contributes to the number of calories in your coffee. You only need one tablespoon (or two) to enhance the flavor of your plain coffee drink.

Pro Tip: Ask your barista for more foam than milk in specialty coffee drinks. This hack will cut out up to 40 calories from an 8-ounce (250-milliliter) coffee drink.

Be Careful with Add-Ons

What you add to coffee drinks significantly affects their caloriecontent. Milk, sugar, half-and-half and flavored syrup are the main calorie culprits. Unfortunately, these ingredients are the main star in seasonal specialty coffee and iced coffee drinks.

Coffee with sugar

For instance, your Starbucks peppermint mocha has several calories from the added chocolate sauce, peppermint-flavored syrup, whole milk, oodles of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

It may taste divine, but it’ll cost you 54 grams of sugar and approximately 450 calories. Jeepers creepers!

So, what’s the solution to enjoy a flavor-packed coffee with add-ons, especially if you’re on a diet? Go for low-calorie high-flavor ingredients!

Some low-cal add-ons to try include:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

  • Unsweetened nut milk

  • Sugar-free creamers

  • Cinnamon powder

  • Low-calorie syrup

  • Vanilla extract

  • Salt (yes, salt does add flavor to coffee!)

Calories in Coffee: The Bottom Line

Every coffee, from the basic black cup of joe to an indulgent full-whip iced coffee, has a calorie story to tell. It all depends on what you add to your drink.

Sweetener, creamer, milk and sugar, half-and-half, cream and syrups can all determine how many calories your cup of coffee ultimately has.

With the proper knowledge, you can enjoy various coffee drinks without obsessively counting calories. And this means enjoying delicious coffee beverages (calorie-free or not) on your own terms!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide to calories in coffee. Do you have any hacks to reduce your coffee calorie intake? Please tell me all about it in the comments section below!

Calories in Coffee FAQ

An eight-ounce (250-milliliter) black coffee brewed from freshly ground beans contains 2-5 calories. If you add whole milk and sugar or creamers, the calories will increase to between 40 and 90 calories.

Yes. One ounce (30 milliliters) of fresh-brewed espresso contains one lone calorie. An 8-ounce (250-milliliter) plain brewed coffee contains 2-5 calories.

The calorie count in a cup of Starbucks coffee depends on the coffee and the cup size. A grande brewed Starbucks coffee cup has 5 calories. Equivalent-sized americanos have 15 calories.

Yes. You can consume unsweetened black coffee in moderation during fasting. In fact, the caffeine in coffee may help by reducing hunger pangs and improving brain function.

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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