How many calories does coffee contain?
“How many calories in a coffee?”… we all ask ourselves this at some point, especially if we’re thinking about starting a diet.
In itself, the answer is easy enough: coffee has only 2 calories per 100 gr, mostly fats (78.3%) and proteins (21.7%), so there’s no need to deprive yourself of coffee if you’re going to start a slimming diet.
But the answer becomes less simple if we take into account different kinds of beverages and sweeteners.
Here is a quick table that may help:
|Non-sugared espresso||2 kcal|
|Whole milk in ‘caffè macchiato’||10 kcal|
|Skimmed milk in ‘caffè macchiato’||5 kcal|
|Coffee with ginseng||25 kcal|
|Coffee with alcohol||25 kcal|
|Cappuccino (whole milk)||90 kcal|
|Cappuccino (skimmed milk)||60 kcal|
|Barley Coffee||6 kcal|
|1 teaspoon of sugar (white or brown)||20 kcal|
|1 sugar sachet (white or brown)||30 kcal|
|1 teaspoon of honey||30 kcal|
|Moroccan coffee||55 kcal|
|Cream coffee||up to 150 kcal|
|Shaked coffee||25-50 kcal depending on sugar content|
As you can see, when milk, sugar, sweeteners etc. are added to coffee, the calorie count obviously goes up.
A ‘caffè macchiato’ (with very little milk) using whole milk, for example, has 10 calories, while a cappuccino has 90 calories and an alcohol-added ‘caffè corretto’ (with sambuca, for example) has roughly 25 calories, the same as coffee with ginseng. And if we add cream to coffee, the calories rise to 55.
Those keeping an eye on their diet can choose equivalent “light versions” of these beverages: with skimmed milk, a ‘caffè macchiato’ has only 5 calories, while a cappuccino drops to 60 calories. Not all bars, however, are able to serve coffee with skimmed milk or soya milk. One answer to that problem is to make your caffè macchiato or cappuccino at home. Roasted barley coffee also has minimal calories: drunk without sugar, it contains only six.
Calories in sugared coffee
And if we like sugar in our coffee? For a start, sugared coffee is not in itself bad for us… indeed, according to a study by Barcelona University – published in the magazine Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental – the combination between glucose and caffeine improves the efficiency of the brain areas involved in concentration on work and memory.
Returning to calories, a cup of sugared coffee has 25 calories, while a cappuccino has 120 – and if accompanied by a stuffed brioche can easily reach 350 – 400. So, if you’re on a weight-watching diet, better skip a classic Italian bar breakfast.
Which has less calories, white or brown sugar? Let’s demolish a myth: brown sugar is not lower in calories than white, seeing that both contain 4 kcal per gramme, which means roughly 20 in a teaspoon, 30 in a sachet and 40 in a tablespoon.
The only difference between the two is that brown sugar contains traces of molasses, which give it its yellowish colour, while white sugar has undergone a “whitening” process to eliminate these traces.
Nor is true that white sugar is bad for you because of the treatments to which it has been submitted. The procedure for making white sugar simply extracts the sucrose from the impurities present in molasses using calcium hydroxide and active carbon, which leaves no traces in the finished product. White sugar only contains tiny quantities of sulphur dioxide, so tiny as to be imperceptible in the human body (wine contains ten times as much).
Calories in coffee with sweeteners
In recent years, the use of sweeteners has spread widely, used as an alternative to sugar in coffee and in other drinks, especially by people on special diets.
Even though it is certainly true that sweeteners have less calories than sugar (a dosage of one gramme has roughly 2 calories, bringing that of an espresso up to 4.4), it is uncertain whether they help lose weight.
A study carried out by Canadian researchers in 2016, and published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, demonstrated that so far no scientific proof exists sustaining the thesis that substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners contributes to losing weight or being fitter. Meghan Azad, one of the authors of the review explains: “no clear weight-losing advantage exists, and if anything a potential association with weight-gaining may be present, along with possible connections with diabetes and other heart problems.”
In previous years too, doubts emerged on the effectiveness of sweeteners and their impact on health. In 2005 it was observed that sucralose provoked slight gene mutation effects in mice, while a 2012 study revealed an association between sweetener consumption and insulin production, an effect connected with type-2 diabetes.
Currently there is no clear proof that sweeteners pose a health threat, and nothing that might cause them to be withdrawn from the market. In any case, it will be worth keeping an eye out for developments, given the increase in such products in recent years, advertised as having “low calorie content”.
Calories in coffee with honey
Some people much prefer sweetening their coffees with honey instead of sugar. What are the differences – in calories and other aspects – between the two?
Let’s start with the calories: honey has slightly more calories than sugar, given that a teaspoon contains 30 kcal, against sugar’s 20. However, honey has a greater sweetening power than sugar, so it takes less of it to achieve the same degree of sweetness. Honey also presents 20% more complex sugars, more difficult for the organism to assimilate: as a result honey’s calories are less easy to absorb than sugar’s.
In any case, neither of the two can be considered an “ally” by someone on a diet!
From a nutritional viewpoint, things are more complex, starting from their composition. Sugar is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. In honey the ratio is 30 to 40. The higher fructose content in sugar leads to higher glycemic spikes, which does not occur with sugar.
Another aspect to be considered are the beneficial properties of the two substances: while sugar simply sweetens other foods, it has been demonstrated that honey is also an effective remedy against coughs and can also be helpful in curing pollen allergies. It is also easier to digest, thanks to the presence of various enzymes transmitted by bees, as well as containing antioxidants and vitamins that are absent in sucrose.
In conclusion: the choice between sugar and honey depends on many factors, including personal taste, but it should be clear that neither of the two are dietetic: better to avoid both if you’re being serious about dieting.
How many calories in other coffee drinks?
Coffee, as we well know, is the base for many more complex and tempting drinks…like Moroccan coffee, cream coffee or shaked coffee. Obviously, all these delicious beverages contain more calories than a simple espresso.
Moroccan coffee is a delicious drink that combines chocolate, milk and coffee, served in a transparent cup. At the bottom is a layer of chocolate, topping or hot chocolate, with the addition of an espresso. Then comes a sprinkling of low fat cocoa powder, and finally some frothy milk. A glass of Moroccan coffee contains circa 55 kcal.
Cream coffee is almost a dessert, superb at meal’s end, especially in the summer, but beware: depending on its preparation, it can reach as many as 155 kcal. Cream coffee can be prepared with slush machines, or at home.
In the first case, you place your chosen preparation in the slush machine and add 3 cups of espresso coffee… the procedure varies with the base preparation used (in liquid or powder form), to which can be added either milk or water.
In the hand-made domestic version, you prepare the coffee and let it cool. You whip the cream and then slowly add the cold coffee. When this is done, leave the mixture to rest, and place it in the freezer for roughly two hours. Before serving, the cream mixture should be returned to room temperature for a while, to soften a little.
And finally, shaked coffee is a valid alternative to cold coffee in the summer. The calorie content of ‘caffè shakerato’ depends on the amount of sugar added to the coffee, and so can vary between 25 and 50 calories. It is extremely simple to make: in a cocktail shaker you mix around 100 ml espresso coffee with sugar and ice, and then shake energetically until the drink becomes frothy.
Is there no clear answer to the question “how many calories are there in a coffee?”? There are many kinds of coffee, and of possible sweeteners, additives and combinations. Undoubtedly, if you’re on a low calorie diet, you’ll be better off drinking your coffee without sugar or – if that’s too bitter for you – choose a sweetener. Skimmed milk and soya milk are two valid alternatives for keeping down milk-related calories.
One thing is undeniable: you must always drink only premium standard coffee… otherwise no dietetic alternative will ever keep you happy!