The headline here is most likely not a surprise to most people the coffee with least calories is a black americano/espresso. This is because the only 2 ingredients in these drinks are water (which has 0 calories) and extracted coffee (which can range from 1-5 calories per single shot used depending on the oil levels in the coffee beans).
If we keep this simple and for arguments sake we take the mid-point to say a single shot of coffee has 3 calories. This would mean on average your standard ‘medium’ americano (typically mediums have two shots of espresso) from any coffee shop will have around 6 calories.
We hope this helps bust the myth we regularly hear that black coffee has no calories.
Now you know the basic calories in the coffee we all enjoy, we are going to take a look at the other factors that influence how many calories are in your daily coffee.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A ‘DIET’ DRINK (IS COFFEE TECHNICALLY DIET?)
So we know a lot of you (ourselves included) like to ensure we don’t consume excessive calories from the stuff we drink and therefore enjoy a ‘diet’/’zero’ beverage.
This section will look at some of the most popular types of these beverages on the market and how they compare to the ‘medium’ black americano to see if coffee is maybe a better choice next time.
Note: This would also be applicable for the double espresso, however we will focus our attention on the black americano as this has a comparative volume to most of these beverages).
Now the ‘diet’ drinks we refer to are the fizzy drinks that are branded with ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ which are also often considered in the same myth that these have no calories. Strictly that isn’t true, all beverages - except water - do have some calories (even if only minimal).
The reason this myth has become synonymous with these types of drinks is because of branding. They brand these drinks as ‘calorie free’ or ‘zero calories’, which although may sound questionable is perfectly legitimate.
This is because based on the European Nutrition and Health claims & regulations drinks that have the equivalent to or less than 4 calories per 100ml can be defined as ‘calorie free’ or ‘zero calories’ as this is considered negligible in comparison to the average adults 2,000 calories per day.
Although the above is a lot to take in lets look at some examples:
- Diet Coke
- Coke Zero
- Fanta Zero
- Lilt zero
- Sprite No Sugar
Our take here is that although coffee doesn't rank as the least calorific drink of the above we still believe it should be the go to. The key reason we say this (we maybe a little bias) but we believe the 5 reasons below all make a lot of sense.
- Black Coffee can be enjoyed hot and cold
- It has less calories than Fanta/Lilt Zero
- It has significantly less ingredient in it (and none you can't pronounce)
- It qualifies to be called a ‘calorie free’ drink
- It packs a natural source of caffeine
WHAT MAKES UP THE CALORIES IN YOUR COFFEE
Generally speaking there are two variables to the calorie content in a typical coffee. One is the milk and the other is the flavouring (if you have any).
Normally the milk is going to be the part of your coffee that contains the most calories so let’s tackle that first.
The number of calories in the milk are going to depend on the volume of the milk and the type of milk. Sounds a little obvious right?
Actually it’s the type of coffee you are making that can drastically alternate the volume of milk; not just the size of the coffee you ordered.
So let’s assume you’re ordering a medium (12oz) coffee, then a cappuccino would actually have much less milk in it than a latte. This is because the milk is foamed a lot more in a cappuccino which means that a smaller amount of milk takes up a larger amount of space.
Sounds trivial, I know, but it’s actually a huge difference. A 12oz cappuccino has roughly 170ml of milk inside. In comparison, the same sized 12oz latte would contain just under double the milk at 320ml.
So now you know how much the “volume” of milk can vary in the same “sized” coffee, let’s break down the effect that has on calories per cup.
All based on a medium (12oz) coffee using skimmed milk and a double shot of espresso (6 calories)
- An americano with a “splash” has 5ml of milk - 8 calories
- A cappuccino has 170ml of milk - 68 calories
- A flat white has 265ml of milk - 104 calories
- A latte has 320ml of milk - 123 calories
And just for good measure your 12oz mocha would be 213 calories. The big difference here is the additional flavouring in a mocha...
We think that additional coffee flavourings fit nicely into 3 categories; Sugar/sweeteners, flavoured syrups and chocolates.
Firstly let’s look at what adding a little sugar to your coffee would do to the calorie count. A teaspoon of sugar is about 16 calories.
SIDE NOTE: Just one teaspoon of sugar is double the calories of an americano with a splash of milk. The coffee has 8 calories. The added sugar is 16 calories. In total an americano with a splash and a sugar is 34 calories.
But don’t worry, you can actually burn 50 calories with 20 minutes of moderate typing. So you’ll have burnt those coffee calories off before you finish your first morning email.
If you want to sweeten your coffee with less calories you can pop a single sweetener with just 3 calories.
Flavoured syrups can be the real killer when it comes to adding additional calories. For example the standard syrup you see in many coffee shops (especially Costa) is a brand called Monin.
Each pump of Monin syrup has around 45 calories. Each flavoured drink usually has around two pumps; therefore your looking at 90 extra calories.
The sugar-free alternatives of these syrups contain significantly less at 3 calories per-pump.
Now, we mentioned above that the mocha is the most calorific of the “standard” milky coffees and that is due to the cocoa content. A decent quality chocolate powder is around 228 calories per 100 grams.
To make a mocha you need around 30grams (or 4 tablespoons) of chocolate powder which equates to 68 calories.
So our advice is to go for a sugar-free chocolate syrup to get the same great taste with minimal calories.
We recently wrote about one of the most calorific coffee’s we’ve tried; the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and it truly is a biggie. We even detailed how you can make one at home with a FRACTION of the calories in it. Check out what we had to say here.
Neither of us (the Co-Founders of Caffin8 Coffee), are nutritionists; however we both have a toe dipped into the pool of a healthy life style. Jake knows a thing or two about healthy eating and great meal prep and Rory’s an avid gym go-er. As such our recommendation is pretty simple…