Gluten, carbs, and sugar … in your coffee?

There are carbs, sugars, and even gluten in coffee? Well, it really depends on how you drink it and where you buy it. Coffee, like popcorn and leafy greens, is a healthy option when consumed plain but can become deceptively carb-heavy, fat-laden, and sugar-packed once dressed-up. It can also absorb gluten if exposed to cross-contamination during handling or grinding. So my fellow coffee lovers, if you are calorie-counting or suffer from celiac disease, please read before you start sipping that next cup.

Plain black coffee

Black coffee is an antioxidant-packed drink of goodness. A plain black cup of 8-ounce coffee contains less than 2 calories, is sugar-free, fat-free, and contains essential minerals, potassium (3% of the daily recommended value) and magnesium (1% of the daily recommended value). In addition to the fabulously low-calorie count, coffee is also the greatest source of life-prolonging antioxidants in the American diet and its anti-inflammatory properties help the body resist debilitating neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Think this sounds great AND love a little milk in your coffee — we are right there with you!

Add diary or a dairy substitute

Adding dairy or a dairy substitute to your coffee adds carbs, and possibly sugar. If you opt for powdered creamers and sweeteners, you may also be inadvertently adding gluten to your coffee. Let’s tackle dairy and dairy substitutes first. According to, adding the items listed below to your coffee changes its nutritional content, on average, in the following way:

  • 1 tsp. of granulated sugar: +16 calories, +4.2g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 tbsp. of heavy whipping cream: +96 calories, +6.5g. saturated fat, +0.8g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. of half-and-half: +37 calories, +2g. saturated fat, +1.2g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. whole milk: +18 calories, +0.6g. saturated fat, +1.3g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. fat-free milk: +10 calories, +1.4g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. condensed milk: +91 calories, +1.6g. saturated fat, +15g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. soy milk: +29 calories, +0.1g, saturated fat, +4.9g. carbs / sugars
  • 1 oz. unsweetened almond milk: +4.3 calories, +0.4g. carbs / sugars

Addling a shot of sugared flavored syrup or caramel drizzle topping to your coffee ups the calorie, carb, and sugar counts as well. For perspective, according to Starbuck’s website, a 12-ounce Pumpkin Spice Crème made with 2% milk contains 400 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, 53 grams of carbohydrates, and 52 grams of sugar. While black coffee or coffee with just a few drops of milk or cream is low-calorie, non- or low- fat, and packed with health-boosting antioxidants, coffee drinks made with extra sugars and / or topped with whipped cream may contain approximately 20% of the FDA adult daily recommended carb and sugar consumption.

And what about gluten?

While very rare, it is possible to have gluten in your coffee. Most often gluten is present in coffees ground in a multipurpose grinder also used to grind gluten-containing products. Gluten can also be present in condensed milk and powdered milk that contain added fiber, and in some flavoring syrups. While there are many gluten-free options available, if you suffer from celiac disease and enjoy drinks that contain any of these products, including Dalonga coffee and flavored lattes, it may be worth asking to look at the labels before committing to your drink.


Open Fit

Mayo Clinic

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