As a nation of coffee lovers, so much of British culture is situated around our next cup of caffeine.
We meet in coffee shops for catch-ups with friends, first dates and business meetings; we have coffee breaks at work and coffee mornings to raise money. It appears that our solution to anything starts with a brew.
But how much are the delicious lattes and cappuccinos contributing to our calorie consumption? How many calories are in a cup of coffee?
We all know that there’s a limit to our daily calorie intake. But we often forget to take our coffees into account.
Ever wondered how many calories are actually in your favourite coffee? Let’s find out!
- A brewed black coffee has the lowest amount of calorie content: 2 calories.
- A regular latte has 103 calories.
- A typical mocha has approximately 159 calories.
- The coffee itself is low in calories. But adding milk and sugar to it significantly increases the caloric content.
What Is a Calorie?
In its simplest form, a calorie is a unit of measurement of energy. For our purposes, calories tell us how much energy food and beverages contain. When used in this way, we are actually talking about “kilocalories” or “kcal” for short.
If you’ve read or discussed food calories before, then it’s possible that you’ve encountered the term “kilocalories” without even realising it.
Many nutritionists, physical trainers, and foodies use “calories” and “kilocalories” interchangeably. This is because unless you are working in science, interchanging the two terms is widely accepted. So from this point forward in the article, we will also be using food “calories” and “kilocalories” interchangeably to minimise confusion.
Human beings need energy to live and function. And our main source of energy is the food and drinks that we consume.
Checking the calorie counts of our food is an effective way to measure how much energy we’re consuming. This energy is essential for us to survive and function and only becomes an issue when we’re consuming more energy than we’re burning. That’s when it turns into fat—our bodies’ way of storing energy.
We need to consume calories to fulfill our nutritional needs. But the issue arises when high-calorie food or drink fill up our daily intake while providing barely any nutritional value.
Sugary and fatty foods are notorious for empty calories because their only impact is to give the body so many calories that it has to convert them into fat.
The way to find out how many calories is in something is to look at the energy value. In addition to the caloric content, there is usually a percentage sign to show you how much of that product will contribute to your daily calorie allowance.
- The average man needs around 2,500 kcal (10,500 kJ) a day to maintain healthy body weight.
- The average woman requires 2,000 kcal (8,400 kJ) a day.
These numbers are general averages. But the exact figures for each individual will vary depending on physical activity, body mass, occupation, and age.
How Many Calories Are in a Black Coffee?
Brewed coffee itself contains very few calories. The average 8 oz black coffee has only two calories. An ordinary espresso shot also contains just two calories. As an espresso is a lot more concentrated than black coffee, it has the same caloric value in less volume.
Even without any milk or sugar, coffee is pretty healthy, rich in antioxidants, and low-calorie to consume. . For weight loss or calorie management, there are not many drinks that are better than a cup of black coffee. Black tea contains one calorie, while ordinary drinking water contains zero.
Calories in Different Coffee Drinks
If you normally take your coffee with milk and sugar, then it pays to track how many cups a day you’re having.
Even three large, sugar-free lattes (16 oz each) can contain up to 20% of the average man’s recommended calorie intake. And for women, the same lattes would contain 25% of their daily recommended intake.
This is a significant amount when you factor in meals and snacks for the day. And if a person’s job requires them to be sat for long stretches at a time, they will be burning far fewer calories than they should be.
It can be a little tricky to apply a set number of calories to each drink because a regular sized drink in one coffee shop may be slightly more or fewer ounces than the same drink in another.
But the table below—based on the USDA’s official research and other trusted sources—could serve as a general guide to coffee calorie counts:
|Coffee Drink (without sugar)||Serving Size||Calories (kcal)|
|Flat White||12 oz||170|
How You Can Reduce Calories in Your Coffee
It can feel frustrating when you’re constantly told that your favourite things aren’t good for you.You may feel like you have to cut out all the things you look forward to!
But rather than altogether forgoing your beloved lattes and cappuccinos, you can alter your favourite drinks slightly so you can enjoy them and reduce your calorie intake at the same time.
Cut Out Sugar
The NHS recommends a maximum of 30 g of “free sugars”—which includes both natural and added sugars—every day.
On average, British also consume four cups of coffee or tea every day. Meaning that quite a few of us are already exceeding the recommended daily sugar limit just through our hot beverages alone!
Reducing any amount of sugar in your coffee is one of the most effective ways to instantly cut out empty calories.. One point that will help you gain perspective on your sugar consumption is to remember that one teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 4 grams.
So let’s say you would like to cut the sugar in your coffee from two teaspoons down to one teaspoon (4 g) per cup.
Even if you drink four cups of coffee in a day, that will still be 16 g of sugar in total—far below the recommended 30 g sugar limit. And the results would be even better if you chose to cut sugar out of your coffee completely.
“But I can’t drink coffee without it!” may well be your response right now and we hear you. In that case, try out some sugar-free coffee syrups available on the market now so you can still satisfy your sweet tooth.
Another great way to keep your coffee on the sweet side is to consider the type of beans you’re using.
A lot of instant coffee is made from Robusta, which is distinctly bitter and earthy. To compensate for the bitterness, many manufacturers will pre-sweeten the instant coffee mix before packaging it. This will likely result in more sugar than you originally bargained for.
Aim for coffees that use Arabica beans. They’re lower in caffeine content and naturally sweeter due to the way they’re cultivated.
Arabica is widely known for its light, fruity taste or its caramel/chocolate flavour and tends to be used in artisan coffee thanks to the premium quality of the coffee beans and complex, nuanced flavours within the bean.
And check out our guide to the best flavoured coffees that taste amazing even without added sweeteners!
Reduce Your Milk’s Fat Content
For many of us, there’s nothing more pleasant than a rich, creamy drink with full-fat milk. The milk is crucial because it gives the coffee its texture and definition.And of course,latte art would be absolutely impossible without milk.
But the milk is also where the majority of the calories are. And while milk does have nutritional value, full fat milk contains additional calories you don’t need.
However, there are a few ways around this. First, consider switching out your usual coffee drink with a lower-calorie alternative.
For example, an 8 oz americano with semi-skimmed milk is only 23 calories compared to an 8 oz latte with 103 calories. So by simply swapping the drink that you order, you’re already saving a massive amount of calories while still getting your caffeine fix.
Another alternative is to consider using non-dairy milk for your coffee instead. These kinds of milk have large amounts of nutritional value in them while still being low in calories. Many are fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. And alternatives like soy milk have the same protein value as dairy milk.
With regards to taste, almond milk tends to be sweeter, while soy has more of a plant taste. For coffee, we recommend oat milk as the best alternative.
Reduce Your Coffee Intake
If you’ve tried all of the above suggestions and your calorie intake is still higher than it should be, then it may be simpler just to reduce your coffee intake.
We know this sounds daunting, but reducing your consumption will actually make caffeine more effective in the long run. Our bodies build up a tolerance to caffeine if we’re drinking a lot of it. So having fewer cups on a more intermittent basis will actually increase caffeine’s effectiveness on our energy levels.
However, if you’re happy to decrease your coffee consumption but not your caffeine, then consider switching to black tea—which on its own contains just one calorie.
Certain tea types like Oolong and Darjeelingcan be drunk without milk. And many herbal teas and green teas are also caffeinated. The wonderful thing about tea is that it’s rich in antioxidants, varied in taste, and pretty much calorie-free.
Beware of “Weight-Loss Coffee” Scams
As one of the few natural substances that have been proven to burn fat, it’s not surprising that caffeine is used in many weight loss supplements. Caffeine is highly effective in increasing your metabolism and naturally makes you feel more full.
While coffee can aid in weight loss naturally, it’s important to be aware of the “weight-loss coffee scam” that’s taking over social media. With the help of influencers and great aesthetics, there’s a lot of companies promising instant weight loss with their specialised coffee.
Not only do a lot of these companies require that you buy in bulk and pay a large sum upfront, but the reality is that this ‘skinny coffee’ is actually just regular coffee.
The reason you probably see it all over social media is that these companies have promised a commission to existing customers if they bring more people on board. Used in conjunction with conventional word-of-mouth and other marketing strategies, this can make their fraudulent claims appear more legitimate.
Be wary of positive reviews on these products, which are most likely affiliated. And remember that as appealing as the advertisements may look, any kind of ‘skinny coffee’ or ‘weight loss coffee’ just isn’t worth it. It would be more beneficial to drink black coffee using a premium roast and drink it before you exercise to energise your workout.
Over the years, numerous programmes have promised effortless weight loss, but there is no quick fix to weight loss. The foundation of losing weight lies in:
- burning more calories than you’re consuming
- consuming fewer calories
- exchanging empty calories for the more nutritious calories found in fruits and vegetables
Aim to lower your daily calorie intake in a healthy, steady manner over an extended period of time.
As much as possible, consult with a qualified health professional so you can receive a plan that is safe, effective, and tailored to your needs and lifestyle.
If you’re considering cutting out your milk and sugar completely, then we sincerely commend your resolve. Find out more about why you should consider switching to black coffee, even temporarily.