How Many Calories Are There in Coffee?
The simple answer to this question is zero. There are virtually no calories in a cup of coffee, since it is made mostly from water.
However, this is only the case if you drink your coffee black and unsweetened.
Black coffee, whether hot, iced or cold brew, has just a couple of calories per cup.
An espresso, which is still made with just coffee beans and water, is a much stronger drink, and therefore a little more calorific, at about 20 calories for a single shot.
The calories really start to increase when you add milk and / or sugar.
Let’s start with sugar. There are approx. 25 calories in a teaspoon of sugar, so depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have, your calories can quickly add up. Don’t forget, flavoured syrups are mostly sugar too – this is where lots of the calories in your Pumpkin Spice Latte come from.
If you need a sweet hit but want to avoid the calories, consider switching to sweetener – the equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar contains just 3 calories.
Now, let’s think about milk. Traditionally, and in most high street coffee shops and restaurants, full-fat cows milk will be used in coffee making. It’s considered the best milk to complement and bring out the flavour in the coffee, ensuring a creamy, rich flavour and structure to the drink.
You’ll need to decide what your priority is when making or ordering your coffee – the flavour or the calories.
You can have the best of both worlds if you stick to a black coffee with a dash of milk. Although it depends on the size of the ‘dash’, it’s unlikely you’ll use more than 50 calories, no matter which milk you choose.
The numbers really start to add up when you go for milkier drinks – the latte or cappuccino, for example. It depends on the size of your cup, but a latte can be anywhere from 100 calories (a small cup made with skimmed milk), to over 400 (a huge cup with whole milk).
Nowadays there are lots of alternatives to cow's milk, from soya to oat to almond to coconut to rice options.
Unsweetened almond or coconut milk are generally considered the lowest calorie options, with around a third of the calories that the equivalent portion of full-fat cows milk has. Soy is somewhere in the middle, with a similar calorie count to skimmed cows milk. Rice milk and oat milk are the most calorific of the dairy-free options, although may be preferable for environmental reasons.
At Capital Coffee, we work hard to blend and roast our coffee to give it a rich, smooth flavour without needing too many additions. At home, we tend to drink our coffee made in a cafetiere or Aeropress, with just a splash of semi-skimmed (what we usually have in the fridge). This makes it a healthy and non-calorific option to drink on a daily basis at home.