While there is no such thing as a zero calorie cup of coffee, a cup of black coffee comes pretty close. Coffee can be a super health-friendly drink when you are counting calories to reach your goals, but what you put in your coffee matters.
For instance, a Small McDonald’s McCafé® Iced Coffee contains about 140 calories. A Short (8oz) Starbucks Cinnamon Dulce Latte contains around 190 calories. And a Dunkin Donuts Small Signature Latte? 300 calories. Where are all these extra calories coming from?
Let’s talk through calorie numbers in coffee and how you can enjoy a better cup of coffee while keeping an eye on the calorie count. We’ll start with the basics: the number of calories in a cup of black coffee.
How Many Calories Are in a Cup of Black Coffee?
|Coffee Type||Calories per 8 ounces (240 mL)|
|Black coffee (Drip)||2|
|Black coffee (Cold Brew)||2|
|Espresso (Black)||2 (per 1 oz shot or 30 mL)
16 (per 8 oz / 240 mL, which is more espresso than you probably should be drinking)
Black coffee is a very low calorie choice even if you are drinking more than one cup a day. Without all the additives, it contains only 2 calories per 8 oz (240 mL) of brew. This number holds true through different types of brewing methods.
Is there a calorie difference between Robusta coffee and Arabica coffee?
We’ve seen advertising lately that Robusta coffee has a much lower caloric content than Arabica coffee. However, there’s little evidence out there that the difference is significant.
Since we’re talking about single digits when it comes to black coffee, Robusta and Arabica have about the same caloric content when brewed and consumed in reasonable amounts. However, because Robusta can be so much more bitter than Arabica (thanks to almost double the caffeine), many people add extra cream and sugar to compensate.
More add-ins = more calories.
Arabica, with its lighter (and typically sweeter) flavor, doesn’t need as many add-ins to balance it out (or any add-ins at all, in some cases). We prefer Arabica for its exceptional flavor and quality, which is why we only select and roast the best Arabica beans here at the Driven Coffee roastery.
How Do You Make a Great Cup of Black Coffee?
The first element in a great cup of black coffee is the type of coffee you brew. Obviously, individual taste in coffee is subjective; what you enjoy may be too bright, bitter, or dark for someone else. However, the higher the quality of roasted coffee you use, the more likely it is that your cup of black coffee will be full of complex, savory or sweet (or both!) flavors…and NOT a cup that tastes like bitter tears.
We’d recommend that you start experimenting with a medium roast for Drip, Pour Over, or French Press brew methods to get a balanced cup of black coffee. For a less acidic black coffee, use the cold brew method on a medium to medium-dark roast.
Recommended coffee for Drip, Pour Over, and French Press: Guatemala Antigua
Our single-origin Guatemala Antigua coffee comes in a medium roast that creates rich tones of cocoa, honey, and spice. Add a small pinch of salt or cinnamon to tone down any hints of bitterness without adding to the calorie count. If you choose to have your beans pre-ground, go with a fine grind for Pour Over or coarse grind for French Press. A Drip coffee maker typically works best with a medium (regular) grind.
Recommended coffee for Cold Brew: Northern Lights Cold Brew Blend
This medium dark roast blend of single origin coffees brings out notes of Toast and Hazelnut. Using the Cold Brew method, our Northern Lights Cold Brew Blend coffee tends to be easier on the stomach for those who are sensitive to acidity. If you choose to have your beans pre-ground, go with a coarse grind for best results.
Keep in mind that you may prefer a lighter roast or a darker one than what we’ve recommended. The good news is that experimenting is part of the fun!
The next section is for those that want to continue adding milk to their coffee without the added sugar from sweeteners:
How Many Calories Are in a Cup of Coffee With Milk?
|Milk Type||Calories per Tablespoon (15 mL)||Calories in 8oz Coffee with 1 TBSP Milk|
|Skim milk (non-fat milk)||5||7|
|Half and Half||20||22|
|Almond milk (unsweetened)||4||6|
Adding milk to your cup of coffee, whether it’s a dairy on non-dairy option, can help to smooth out some of coffee’s acidity. Most people add milk to reduce coffee’s bitterness and to enhance its texture. However, the type and amount of milk you use can have a significant effect on your coffee’s caloric content.
A calcium-fortified, unsweetened almond milk has the lowest calorie count of your options, with only 4 calories per tablespoon (or 8 calories for a 2 tbsp serving). Skim milk (non-fat milk) is the next best low calorie coffee milk option at 5 calories per tablespoon (or 10 calories per 2 tbsp serving).
You can play with your milk options by seeing how much or how little your tastebuds tell you that you need. Even whole milk or half and half can be a relatively low calorie option if you keep the amount down to just a tablespoon per 8oz of coffee.
Which Coffees Pair Best With Just Milk?
Just like with straight black coffee, a good coffee to drink with milk starts with high quality roasts. A premium quality coffee will keep excessive bitterness and burnt tastes at bay, allowing you to use just enough milk to accent your coffee’s flavor or texture without overdoing your calorie count.
We recommend that you use a dark or medium roast if you want to enhance the texture and acidity of a coffee with milk. The flavor of milk can be overpowering for some lighter roasts, but milk pairs nicely with richer, deeper tones.
Recommended Dark Roast Coffee for Milk: Minneapolis Mud
Our Minneapolis Mud coffee is a blend of our single origin coffees, roasted to dark to create a savory brew with chocolate tones. Pair this coffee with skim milk or unsweetened almond milk to enhance its texture with the fewest calories.
Recommended Medium Roast Coffee for Milk: Colombia Excelso
This rich, flavor-packed coffee is hand-picked in the Huila-Acevedo region of Colombia. We roast Columbia Excelso to medium to preserve the nutty flavor and smooth texture of the brew. While whole milk would be Colombia Exelso’s ideal companion, unsweetened almond milk or 2% milk also shine in this brew as low calorie add-ins.
How Many Calories Are in Coffee With Sweeteners?
|Sweetener Type||Calories||Calories in 8oz Coffee with Sweetener|
|White sugar||16 per teaspoon||18 (1 tsp sweetener)|
|Flavored Starbucks syrup||20 per single pump (¼ oz)||22 (1 pump sweetener)|
|Flavored Torani Syrup||15-16 per teaspoon||17-18 (1 tsp sweetener)|
|Agave syrup||21 per teaspoon||23 (1 tsp sweetener)|
If you are avoiding dairy or just need that extra bit of sweetness with your coffee, drinking coffee with sweeteners can add some brightness to your day and only a few extra calories if you’re frugal.
Plain white sugar is a simple addition that can add as little as 16 calories to a small cup of coffee or 32 for a 2 tsp serving size (we get it, we can’t really stick with just an 8oz cup, either). Add a flavored syrup made with cane sugar and you’ll get about the same calorie content, with around 15-16 calories per teaspoon.
But this is where a lot of coffee drinks pack in calories. A Grande Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte contains about 32 grams of added sugar from syrups and sweetened cream (approximately 124 added calories). That’s like putting more than 7 teaspoons of sugar into your 16oz morning coffee, which meets or exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of added sugars per day for many people (6 teaspoons for the average female, and 9 teaspoons for the average male).
With a really good light or medium roast Arabica coffee, you won’t need to add much sweetener. Sticking with a quality specialty coffee can help you prevent calorie build up by making your coffee a fantastic experience of aromas and flavors without the help of calorie-laden sauces and syrups.
Which Coffees Pair Best With Just Sugar or Syrup?
Recommended Light Roast Coffee #1: Peru CenfroCafe FT
Our lightly roasted Peru CenfroCafe Fair Trade coffee is already slightly sweet, making it an ideal candidate for those looking for a crisp pick-me-up with a little added sweetener. This coffee is Fair Trade certified, too, so you can take pride in being a part of a community effort that supports individual coffee farmers and the environment that they live in.
Recommended Light Roast Coffee #2: Driven Breakfast Blend
Our Breakfast blend is a great way to start off your day with a mild, light cup of coffee. This smooth and bright coffee is the perfect pairing for just a little sugar or a dash of syrup.
The Low-Calorie Coffee Takeaway
If you’re aiming for low calorie, start by upgrading the quality of your coffee. A medium roast is an all around winner for trialing black coffee, coffee with just milk, or coffee with a bit of milk and sweetener. A light roast can give you bright flavors without the milk, whether you try it black or with a bit of sugar or syrup.
Not sure what coffees you want to try, but eager to taste your options? Sign up for Driven’s Roaster’s Choice subscription! We send you fresh selections from our collection of 100% Arabica, artisan-roasted coffees in either two or three 12 oz bags every month. From light to dark roasts, single-origin coffees to blends, you’ll get a sampling of everything we love while you explore each as a black coffee or low calorie pairing with milk and sweeteners.
We wish you all the best in meeting your calorie goals!
How Many Calories Are in Black Coffee?
The calories in a cup of black coffee, regardless of brewing method, are about 2 calories per 8oz of prepared drink (240 mL), or:
|Prepared Black Coffee in Ounces (mL)||Calories|
|8 oz (240 mL)||2|
|12 oz (360 mL)||3|
|16 oz (480 mL)||4|
|24 oz (720 mL)||6|
How Many Calories Are in a Cup of Coffee With Cream and Sugar?
The calorie count for a coffee with cream and sugar depends on the kind of milk or sweetener you use:
|Milk Type||Calories in 8oz Coffee with 1 TBSP Milk
1 tsp White Sugar
|Calories in 8oz Coffee with 1 TBSP Milk
1 tsp Flavored Torani Syrup
|Calories in 8oz Coffee with 1 TBSP Milk
1 tsp Agave Syrup
|Skim milk (non-fat milk)||7||22||28|
|Half and Half||22||37||43|
|Almond milk (unsweetened)||6||21||27|
How Many Calories Are in Cold Brew Coffee?
Cold brew coffee contains about 2 calories per 8oz when prepared black (without sugar or milk). However, once you start adding in sweeteners and creamer, the sky’s the limit for calories in cold brew coffee. See the tables above for common calorie amounts in sugar and cream.
How Many Calories Are in Bulletproof Coffee?
An 8 oz cup of bulletproof coffee with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil will net you about 160 calories, give or take a few. This coffee method may be great for the no-carb dieters out there, but if you are wanting to spend less of your calorie budget on your coffee, bulletproof coffee may not be the best prep method for you.