Calories in Coffee

According to studies, 65% of all adults in America drink coffee. Coffee has fans in every country of the world as it appeals to people from all ethnicities and income levels. However, let me make it clear that we are no longer talking about drinking just a mug or two of the home brewed stuff with sugar and cream. That is just too old school. It is all about specialty coffee based drinks offered by all kinds of coffeehouses. What the majority of specialty coffee drinking public fails to realize is that while black coffee is a low calorie drink on its own, everything else that goes in the drink is not!

So just how much destruction can an innocent looking mid-day, pick-me-up cause? It is safe to say that specialty coffee based drinks resemble a dessert far more than just the hot beverage they imitate. In many cases they constitute a full blown meal in terms of the calories. Simply put, the fancier the drink, the greater the number of calories. To put things in proper perspective, an additional 200 calories a day translate into 21 additional pounds of body weight at the end of a year.

Like so many of us tend to do around this time of year; I’ve been trying to get into better shape. As I was looking for places where I could trim out unnecessary calories I came to the horrifying realization that I really had no idea how many calories were in one of my 6 daily cups of coffee. I had a near panic attack at the prospect of having to give up my coffee but luckily the news was rather encouraging! I’m lucky enough that I never got into those huge, extravagant Starbucks monstrosities and as such, only had to make a few minor adjustments.

How Many Calories are in that Cup of Coffee?

As you may suspect, a straight black cup of coffee actually has very few calories in it. Your average 8 oz. cup of drip coffee will contain just 2 calories! Espresso is a little more calorie dense coming in at 1 calorie per ounce. These calories come from the coffee bean’s essential oils as well as a tiny bit of protein.

Where we start running into problems is all of those extras we add in to our coffee which can add up quickly if you drink as many cups as I do! A single teaspoon or packet of sugar will add 16 calories to your coffee. 1 tablespoon of cream or a creamer packet will add an additional 52 calories on top of that! So the original 2 calories turn into 58 calories. You’ve just made your coffee exponentially worse and we’ve barely added anything yet!

Now if you stop at one or two cups a day, that’s not too bad, but seriously folks, how many of us just stick to the standard milk and sugar, or even just an 8 ounce serving size? Specialty shops rarely serve the standard 8 ounce size, and with the upsize the calories also escalate.  Many specialty coffee shops go as large as twenty ounces while sixteen is fairly standard size for them. This comes to twice the regular sized serving in just one go, thus double the calories even with just milk and sugar. Add the additional ingredients like whipped cream, chocolate, caramel, various syrups and other scrumptious flavorings, pretty soon you end up with a drink that has more calories than a large chocolate bar.

I used to take my coffee with 2 creams and 3 sugars… If you’re doing that math from above, that means each cup of coffee I was drinking was roughly 154 calories! For comparison, a Big Mac is 563 calories… And at 6 per day I was almost breaking my caloric budget just on coffees! How much exercise would I need to do to burn off all those calories?  That’s about an hour of walking, 30 minutes of running, or 20 minutes of swimming per coffee!

As with so many other foods in my diet, it’s been exceedingly hard getting rid of all the sugars… Sugar is literally a drug, complete with withdrawal and everything! But over the course of a couple of weeks I managed to ween myself down to 2 sugars, then to 1, and then to just a half teaspoon. At this point I drink most of my coffees sugarless and enjoy them just fine. With that said I’ll admit that I still like to include a half teaspoon of sugar from time to time; and I’m comfortable with that.

The other day I had an encouraging little incident at a coffee shop and it helped me to realize that I could never go back to drinking coffee as sweet as I used to. I was at my local cafe and asked for a coffee with half a sugar and 2 milks to start my day. Instead I got half a milk and 3 sugars! (I know because it was written on the side of the cup.) Unfortunately, I only noticed this once I was already settled in at my desk and resigned myself to drinking it cause the coffee at the office is terrible! Big mistake; it was unbearably sweet! It tasted like little more than sugary sludge. Like I was drinking syrup! I seriously couldn’t believe that this is how I took my coffee all those years.

The next step in my rehabilitation was to replace my cream with milk. I thought this was gonna be the easy step after kicking sugar to the curb. Sadly, I was mistaken. As a life long cream drinker I really underestimated, and this is gonna sound dumb but, how much creamier it made my coffee. I decided to jump over half and half directly into milk for my morning coffee and it really wasn’t a smooth transition… I really never gave cream the full respect it was due cause I was fully expecting those two milks to completely emulate my former two creams. “What’s the cream really for anyways other than to give the coffee a bit of colour and cool it down a tad?” I foolishly thought. My coffee suddenly felt bland and watered down, rather than velvety smooth. I caved and added a creamer when I reached the office… not my proudest moment. It would’ve knocked another 86 calories off of my typical beverage and while it’s a disappointing step back, I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made none the less.

Worst Offenders

So now we know the skinny (pun fully intended); these add-ons are not only being added on to our coffees, but also to our waistlines… Then I found myself asking, “If my simple 2 cream, 3 sugar beverages where almost as bad as a Big Mac, what are those syrup laden sugar bombs they sell at StarBucks doing to you? Well, I looked it up and it turns out it’s pretty horrifying! The worst offender may actually surprise you a little as they’ve fallen behind the other major players in the world of coffee lately.

Typically the coffee based drinks served at specialty shops contain anywhere from 250 to 600 calories for the medium size; go for the largest size and numbers run even higher. The Grande Vanilla Latte is Starbucks most frequently ordered drinks, with two per cent milk it is packed with 250 calories. While their Grande Pepermint White Chocolate Mocha is the grand monster of coffees with 550 calories and lets not even get into the amount of fat and carbs it is packed with.  An Iced Coffee sounds innocent enough until you realize that with ingredients like full-fat milk, it imparts around 250 calories or an equivalent of 25 minutes worth of a workout.

It seems the absolute worst coffee beverage you can have is Dunkin’ Donuts’ Frozen Caramel Coolatta with Cream which rings in at a mind boggling 990 calories, with 47 g of fat, 29g of which are saturated Fat, 141 g of carbs, and 130 grams of sugar for a 20oz drink. Don’t look up how much of your daily recommended intake of any of that is, believe me, you don’t want to know…

The next biggest offender is Starbucks’ Whole Milk White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream which contains 620 calories, 27 grams of fat, 75 grams of sugar, and 79 grams of carbs. The folks at have made a great guide of the top offenders and alternatives you can order if you find yourself out and craving something special.

Calorie List

It’s what you came here to see, a full list of everything that could go into your morning coffee. Hopefully, once you know where all those extra calories are coming from, you’ll be able to make better decisions. Happy Drinking!

Things to keep in mind below:

  • 1 Cream/Milk = 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Sugar = 1 Teaspoon


Item Volume Calories
Plain Coffee
Coffee 8(oz) 2
Instant coffee 8(oz) 4
Decaf Coffee 8(oz) 0
Espresso 1(oz) 1
Sugar 1 Tsp 16
Cream 1 Tbsp 52
Half-and-half 1 Tbsp 20
Whole milk 1 Tbsp 9
Fat-free milk 1 Tbsp 5
Almond Milk 1 Tbsp 8
McDonald’s Coffee Cream 1 Tbsp 20
Plain Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 33
Plain, Low Fat, Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 25
Flavored Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 45
Flavored, Low Fat, Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 40
Plain Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 20
Plain, light Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 10
Flavored Non-Dairy Creamer 1 Tbsp 35
Beverage Totals
Coffee + 2 Sugars 9(oz) 34
Coffee + 2 Creams 9(oz) 106
Coffee + 2 Cream, 2 Sugar 9(oz) 138
Coffee + 2 Half & Half 9(oz) 42
Coffee + 2 Milks (2%) 9(oz) 17
Coffee + 2 Milks (Whole) 9(oz) 20
Coffee + 2 Non Dairy Creamers 9(oz) 42
Coffee + 2 Powdered, Non Dairy Creamers 9(oz) 68
Coffee + 2 Skimmed Milk 9(oz) 12
Dunkin Donuts Cappuccino 10(oz) 80
Dunkin Donuts Coffee 10(oz) 15
Dunkin Donuts Coffee Coolatta with cream 16(oz) 400
Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee (no milk) 16(oz) 10
Dunkin Donuts Iced Mocha Raspberry Latte 16(oz) 230
Dunkin Donuts Latte 10(oz) 120
Dunkin Donuts Mocha Swirl Latte 10(oz) 230
Latte with 6oz whole milk 8(oz) 91
Latte with 6oz whole milk + 1 Sugar 8(oz) 107
McDonald’s Coffee 16(oz) 0
McDonald’s Cappuccino 16(oz) 130
McDonald’s Latte 16(oz) 180
McDonald’s Mocha 16(oz) 330
McDonald’s Iced Coffee 17(oz) 280
McDonald’s Flavored Iced Coffee 17(oz) 270
McDonald’s Latte 16(oz) 180
McDonald’s Mocha 16(oz) 330
  McCafé Peppermint Hot Chocolate with Nonfat Milk 20(oz) 350
  McDonald’s Frappe Caramel 22(oz) 680
Starbucks Americano 16(oz) 15
Starbucks Mocha + Whipped Cream 16(oz) 360
Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino + Whipped Cream 16(oz) 430
Starbucks Cappuccino 16(oz) 140
Starbucks Coffee 16(oz) 5
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino 16(oz) 240
Starbucks Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino 16(oz) 500
Starbucks Hot Chocolate (No Whipped Cream) 16(oz) 330
Starbucks Latte 16(oz) 220
Starbucks Mocha (No Whipped Cream) 16(oz) 290
Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha + Whipped Cream 16(oz) 560


How to Slash the Calorie Count

The biggest and best way to cut down on the calories is control what goes in your beverage. Obviously a six or eight ounce serving of black coffee or at most wit some low fat milk and low calorie sweetener is your best bet. But if you must indulge then cutting down on the number of times the drink is consumed in a week and its size will help significantly. The greater the cut in size the few the calories that end up in your body. Below are some other ways to reduce the number of calories in your favorite beverage.

  • Whipped Cream: By eliminating whipped cream altogether, between 80 to 130 (depending on the brand) calories are reduced from the drink in addition to roughly ten grams of fat. If skipping whipped cream is not an option then go with fat-free.
  • Sweeteners: Skip the sugar, but if you must then substitute no calorie sweeteners.
  • No Calorie Syrups: While it is not commonly advertised, many coffee houses have low fat flavored syrups available. You won’t get them if you don’t ask! A single tablespoon of chocolate syrup has a whopping 50 calories; a lighter version delivers only half this amount.
  • Milk: wherever possible ask for skim milk as opposed to cream or full fat milk. Depending on the serving size and type of drink, you can easily drop hundred calories.


It is obvious from the facts presented here that a large number of coffee based drinks are loaded with calories and fat. Such drinks are deceiving in terms of their hidden calorie and fat content and can lead to significant weight gain. To ensure that health is not compromised, it is necessary to be prudent with your choices when making selections. Furthermore, it is beneficial for your health to treat yourself occasionally, but keep in mind that over-indulgence can lead to serious consequences.


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply