Coffee drinking enthusiasts who have done the research will be well aware already of the calorie content of their favorite beverage. Coffee calories are a hidden piece of nutritional information for most who casually sip a cup or two a day. An influx in the specialty coffee market – much of which was based on drinks with excessive amounts of sugar and fat – has led consumers to a wealth of nutritional information not previously at their disposal. The major coffee chains are being directed towards healthier options due to the changing nature of the coffee drinker and an increased awareness of coffee calories. The caloric content of a coffee drink varies greatly based on the ingredients and the processes through which the beverage is made. Consumers desiring a generic reference for coffee calories in an attempt to drink smarter can keep in mind a few basic principles that can trim the fat and sugar in a drink or, conversely, turn an otherwise harmful coffee into a gut-busting breakfast substitute.
Cream or Skim
One of the main culprits in fat and calorie content in a coffee or specialty coffee is the dairy portion. Due to the drink’s nature to be somewhat bitter in taste, coffee is often mixed with cream and sugar or artificial sweeteners. Using low-fat or non-fat milk is a great way to mellow out a bitter coffee without adding on calories. A tablespoon of skim milk contains only 5 calories, making it the ideal mixer for a healthier coffee. For those wanting something heavier but still watching their calories, fat free half and half – coming in at 10 calories per tablespoon – is a good starting point. Soy milk has only about 6 calories in each tablespoon, and soy creamer will hover around 15 calories for the same amount. Soy is a great option for any coffee drinkers who have trouble with dairy. Drinks mixed with whipped cream are going to be heavier in calories than those with no topping, so consumers can ask for the beverage without whipped cream to lighten the load.
Sweeteners and Size
The specialty drinks synonymous with some of the more prominent national coffee shops have been a major contributor to the inflated coffee calorie count burdening consumers. It is not uncommon for one of these specialty drinks – in truth much closer to a milkshake than a coffee – to be mixed with flavored syrup and topped with the aforementioned whipped cream. Skipping the syrup in a specialty drink can cut as much as 200 calories, while requesting a drink with no whipped cream can shave off 120. Basically, for the casual coffee drinker, the things that seem like they would be responsible for a jump in caloric content are usually the main contributors.
Aside from the sugar additives and the fatty dairy toppings, few things are as effective in reducing caloric content as ordering a smaller size. Portion control is necessary to eating and drinking healthily, and coffee drinks are no exception. Reducing the portion size of a coffee order from 16 ounces to 12 ounces can produce similar effects to leaving out the sugary syrup or whipped cream. If the consumer is insistent on the sugar or cream, ordering a smaller size can ease the caloric weight of a beverage.