Zero? Saying there are zero calories in a cup of black coffee isn’t wrong, but it’s not the whole story. Coffee is America’s most popular drink after water and soda, and most of us have more than one cup a day, so it’s not surprising we want to know how many calories are in a single cup of black coffee. You might have read there are no calories in black coffee; that’s because the number of calories is so small it has been rounded down to zero. In truth, there are calories in black coffee, but the number of calories depends on the beans, the roast level, and the brewing method. In this article, we’ll discuss each of these factors along with some advice on how to make your cup of coffee even healthier.
Maybe we should start with the obvious. Overall, and in moderation, black coffee can be considered a healthy drink. The problem is, not a lot of us drink it black. Once you load coffee up with sweeteners, milk, cream, syrup, candied nuts, and other flavorings, you've shoveled in the calories and the coffee is the least of your worries. For instance, there are 260 calories in 1 serving (16 oz) of Starbucks Caffe Mocha compared to around two calories in a cup of regular black coffee. So, if you’re thighs are getting a bit thick, the coffee isn’t the real problem; it’s all the other stuff. We won’t talk about those sins right now, but focus our attention on the lowly cup of black coffee.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are two calories in a cup of black coffee brewed from ground beans. The calorie count drops to one with a single espresso shot, while a cup of black cold brew weighs in at five calories. Why the difference? Most of it has to do with the brewing method, the length of the extraction, and the ratio between water and coffee. A cup of regular black coffee is made of ninety percent water and two percent extracted coffee, which explains its insignificant calorie count.
The beans are to blame
Coffee beans are the seeds of a bright red cherry. Once the fruit's pulp has been removed and the beans dried, they are green in color and have no noticeable aroma. When the beans are exposed to heat during roasting, they take on the rich brown color we recognize as coffee. But it’s the beans that are to blame for the calories. Believe it or not, there are eighteen calories in a tablespoon of ground coffee beans, yet only a few ends up in your morning cup because During brewing, the coffee grounds are exposed to water when you expose the grounds to water, the natural oils and sugars in the coffee are dissolved. These days, green beans are seen as a healthy source of minerals, dietary fiber, and powerful antioxidants, but they have to be consumed in small quantities, and won’t warm you up on a cold winter morning. Drinking brewed black coffee is a healthier choice if you want to watch out for those nasty calories.
Which roast level is better?
If we’re only talking about calories, roasting isn’t a major factor, but the longer heating time required for a dark roast releases more of the oils and natural sugars in the beans and results in a slightly lower calorie count. A cup of black dark roast coffee contains around two calories on average, while a medium roast has two and a half calories. Unlike light roasts, medium and darker roasts have more important antioxidants and are shown to be better for weight loss and control. Also, a dark roast will extract faster passing fewer calories into the brew. If you want to try a fantastic dark roast, we recommend our Chamberlain Fancy Mouse Espresso Blend. It creates a rich cup of coffee with hints of caramel, chocolate, and toasted nuts.
Does brewing method impact calorie count?
Absolutely. As we said earlier, the calories are found in the coffee grounds, so the more grounds you filter out during brewing, the lower the number of calories in a cup of black coffee. Drip and pour-over brewing retain all of the grounds in a filter, allowing only liquid to pass through. The calories are left behind in the filter. Filtered coffee is the closest you will get to coffee with zero calories – too bad it tastes so dreadful! Our Steeped Coffee Bags allow you to brew a cup of coffee without residue and zero calories.
Brewing methods such as French Press, Aeropress, and cold brew work on the principle of emersion. Coffee grounds are placed in water, left to extract, and the filtering is done at the end of the brewing. Depending on the extraction time, coarseness of the grounds, and fineness of the filter, back coffee from these brewing methods will likely have more calories than filtered or steeped coffee. The longer the extraction time, the more the simple and compound sugars are dissolved into the brew increasing the number of calories in a cup. On average, a cup of black French Press coffee has two calories, while a cup of black coffee brewed using an Aeropress has one calorie.
Cold brew, with its smooth and sweet taste, has become popular in recent years. In the case of cold brew, room temperature water is used and the extraction time takes hours instead of minutes. Despite the lower extraction temperature, more sugars, oils, and fatty solids are retained, giving cold brew a higher calorie count. A cup of Starbucks cold brew, for example, has five calories and the cold brew we make at home is somewhere between three and four. On the plus side, cold brew is sweeter than other black coffees, making it easier to resist sweeteners, milk, or dare we say it, cream. If you find black coffee strong or bitter, try a cold brew. Cold brew also has a bit more caffeine which helps to burn calories, so it all evens out in the long run.
Depending on who you talk to, a single shot of espresso is a low-calorie blast. The US Department of Agriculture reports there is one calorie in a single ounce of black espresso because the extraction is short and done with very hot water. A shot of well-pulled espresso is creamy, flavor-intense, and best enjoyed without sweetener. It's those wonderful espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes that break the calorie bank.
Tips for reducing calories in your coffee
So, now we know that black coffee has next to no calories, but it's hard to go cold turkey on dairy, sweeteners, and flavors. We've got a few tips to help you keep the calories low and the guilt to a minimum.
Use almond milk
If you're not allergic to nuts, the perfect milk replacement for dairy milk in your coffee is almond milk. With only 39 calories per cup, almond milk will make your mornings guilt-free. It is also a natural source of vitamin E and some brands are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. If you want frothy almond milk, pour it into a mason jar, seal it, and shake it, baby!
Try coconut and vanilla
Don’t use artificial creamers that are full of sugar and mystery ingredients. Try using a bit of coconut milk with a dash of vanilla. Your coffee will be creamy and nutty. Make a small batch up at home, and take it with you to work, dinner out, and those long study nights.
A dash of cinnamon
If you’re trying to get used to drinking coffee black, try a dash of cinnamon. It takes away a bit of harshness and it’s also good for reducing inflammation and is thought to contribute to overall health.
Sweeten with dates
Avoid sugar and other artificial sweeteners. Try using dates to sweeten things up. Dates are a terrific source of magnesium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Make a date paste by soaking pitted dates in water for an hour, then blending the dates with a tablespoon or two of the water used to soak them.
A tiny bit of honey
Honey is another good way to sweeten your coffee. Along with its other health benefits, honey brings out the darker tones in coffee. You can try different types of honey and see which one suits you best. Be careful, a tiny bit of honey goes a long way when it comes to sweetening a cup of coffee.
Check the white
Our final trick is cool. Sometimes, we don’t notice how much milk we’re putting in our coffee. And, if you’re trying to cut back on the milk, it’s hard to monitor your success. What if you had to look at your guilty pleasure? Get your hands on a transparent coffee mug. You won’t believe how it will remind you of the calories – their right in your face! More than once you’ll hear “Want some coffee with that milk?”
Black coffee: two out of two thousand
To sum up, depending on the brewing method, a cup of regular black coffee will have around two calories. Black coffee defiantly has less calories than other coffee drinks. A healthy diet will have a daily intake of between two thousand and twenty-five hundred calories, so a couple of cups of black coffee per day isn't going to count for much. The important thing to remember, is black coffee is best, and if you like your coffee with milk and sugar, try it with almond milk and a bit of date paste. When coffee is brewed well, it shouldn't need a lot of sweeteners, and drinking it black celebrates the complexity and richness of the beans themselves. Still can't get used to black coffee? Cold brew might give you the smooth sweet taste you're looking for, without having to add anything at all. Bottom line, stop blaming the coffee and keep enjoying the brew.