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Are there Carbs in Coffee? 8 Low Carb Alternatives to Try


Brandon Pierce
February 19, 2022

Most coffee drinkers consume three or more cups per day! If you happen to fit into this statistic, you might also wonder about the carbs in coffee.

Did You Know? Coffee drinks make up more than 65% of the average Americans' daily beverage intake. 

If you are on a weight-loss journey, a low carb diet, perhaps the keto diet, you may be wondering what the carb count is for your usual go-to coffee beverages.

After reading this article, we hope that you feel empowered to continue drinking coffee, especially cold brew coffee, with the confidence that you are in control of your carb intake regardless of what the local coffee shop wants to serve you.

Are there Carbs in Traditional Coffee?

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats make up the three main macronutrients our bodies require to function normally. Carbs are vital to delivering essential nutrients and a fast-burning energy source for our bodies.

With that said, does coffee have carbs in it? Yes, but an extremely low amount-well, that is for black coffee. However, the instant you add in dairy milk, sweetened whipped cream, or flavored syrups to your cup, that's when the carbs start to add up.

Note: Coffee by itself has less than 1 gram of carbs per cup.

Does Cold Brew Coffee Have Carbs?

While cold brew coffee has a sweeter hint of flavor and smell, the cold brewing process does not add in sugar content. However, the answer is still YesCold brew coffee does have carbs in it, about 3 grams per 300ml. Cold-brew will have some net carbs because coffee beans have carbs in them.

What adds Carbs in Coffee Drinks?

Sugars and flavored syrups are the biggest culprits for kicking you off your low-carb diet for the day. Certain coffee drinks will contain extra carbs simply because the process of making them taste good requires adding in a traditionally sugar-dense substance.

Still, you can enjoy coffee shop staples by choosing to order your favorite drinks with fewer carbs in mind. So let's take a look at some ways to embrace your low-carb lifestyle while enjoying something other than just black coffee.

How to Order Low Carb Coffee Drinks at Your Favorite Coffee Shop

When attempting to control the carb content in your diet, you may find it a little awkward to ask how many carbs are in the items you order.

Not to mention if you are in a long queue line. How embarrassing! 

Thankfully, there are a few ways to ensure you are off to a great start with far fewer carbs:

  1. Download and study the menu or take a photo of it if your local coffee shops don't have an online menu
  2. Order a smaller size
  3. Ask for a dairy-free alternative milk
  4. Request fewer pumps from the flavored syrup dispenser
  5. Choose sugar-free syrups instead
  6. Forgo with the milk foam and whipped cream toppings
  7. Order black coffee
  8. Drink cold brew instead as it is naturally sweet!

The 8 Best Low Carb Coffee Additives

While you can always order standard black coffees made from a host of brewing styles out there, these include drip coffee, iced coffee, pour-over, and cold brew; you can also go for favorites like a plain espresso or an Americano, which is just an espresso coffee with water added.

Regardless of the brewing method, stick to these staples instead of that chocolate cappuccino drenched in chocolate syrup that your best friend at work continues to rave about.

Still, if you must add something to your black coffee base, choose one of the following additives, each having almost no carbs or zero carbs.

1. Unsweetened Almond Milk

Unsweetened almond milk is a great choice, though many mainstream coffee shops aren't very upfront about the fact that they may sweeten it with cane sugar. My opinion on the matter is that many of these mainstream coffee houses need all the extra sugar because they source low-quality beans or burn their roasts.

Still, if you can manage to find unsweetened almond milk, you are in great shape.

2. Soy Milk without Added Sugar

Like almond milk, soy milk is an excellent alternative to whole milk as no sugar is added. Besides, soy milk is a ubiquitous coffee beverage additive. So you won't ever look stupid ordering it, even if Starbucks is out of it(they sometimes are).

3. Sugarless Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is one of my favorite hot coffee additives. It has this naturally semi-sweet flavor and smells that almost tricks my brain into thinking there is sugar when there isn't.

4. Unsweetened Oat Milk

Ha! Oat milk is a trick. It is full of carbs, even oat milk, without added sugar. Oats are full of carbs! So if you are concerned about the total carbohydrate content of your coffeehouse favorites, stay away from oat milk (even though I think it tastes the best and always choose it).

5. Plain Cashew Milk

Hopefully, you get the pattern by now. Cashew milk is naturally creamy, and the nuttiness pairs well with black coffee. My favorite keto-friendly option is cashew milk of the nondairy milks in this list.

6. MCT Oil

Do you like black coffee the way it is but want the caffeine to enter your veins more slowly? Try adding Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT oil) derived from coconuts and made famous by the nuts over at Bulletproof Coffee.

MCT can sometimes be hard to find, so substituting with coconut oil is an excellent alternative unless you are allergic to coconuts.

7. Grass-Fed Butter / Ghee

There is always grass-fed butter or ghee for the less tolerant if you can stomach dairy. Similar to coconut oil and its derivative (MCT), butter and ghee are fats that coat caffeine molecules. The fat-covered caffeine slowly digests to extend your energy boost over many hours, instead of just the morning and early afternoon. Hello, 2:30 pm!

8. Stevia

Stevia is an excellent alternative to granulated sugar if you love sweet coffee beverages. It is super sweet and somehow doesn't absorb into your body as normal sugars do. Still, it can somewhat effectively trick your brain into thinking what you are drinking is sweet.

I am not sure about the science behind it. Still, I know that upon trying it myself, I had to use about half the amount of stevia that I would typically opt for in sugar packets.

Drink Coffee that Fits in with Your Dietary Restrictions

Chances are, if you are limiting your carb intake, you may fit right in with the keto diet phenomenon. The keto diet limits sugars and carbohydrate intake in all consumed foods. The result of doing so puts one's boy in a state of "ketosis," which means the body burns fat instead of sugars as a fuel source.

As a part of a low-carb diet, sticking to keto coffee recipes is your best bet to limiting those carbs that sneak into your favorite coffeehouse beverages.


Hopefully, after reading this article, you aren't as worried about how many carbs are in your coffee. Instead, you know that regular coffee / black coffee does have carbs, though very few. The coffee beverage recipe, like that super-sweetened café au lait you always go for, adds more carbs.

The simplest solution to this whole thing is to ask yourself why you aren't drinking cold-brewed coffee. Because you just don't need whipped cream, steamed milk, or caramel drizzle when your coffee tastes great on its own. Am I right?

Brandon Pierce

About the author

My name is Brandon and I love cold-brew coffee. If you're a fan of everything homebrew, then we'll get along just fine. I also enjoy riding my Onewheel around town, and going on adventures with my future wife! As an online work-from-home advocate, it's important that I stay connected to the world while being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

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