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Are you worried that your new Keto diet might force you to drop your favorite pumpkin spice blend? Maybe you just need to cut that sugar intake, but you love chocolate coffee. But wait, does flavored coffee have carbs?
Flavored coffee beans usually have no carbs, regardless of whether they are naturally or artificially flavored. They are a keto-friendly alternative to flavored syrups and other sweeteners that are sometimes added to coffee drinks.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take a deep dive into how coffees are flavored, why most flavored coffees are completely carb-free, and which coffee flavorings you should avoid.
A Brief Intro to Carbs
Let’s make sure we’re on the same page when we talk about carbs. There are two kinds of carbs: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
Ever had a sugar rush? You can thank simple carbohydrates for that. Simple carbs are digested quickly and found naturally in some foods and drinks (like milk). Most of the sugars you come across, though, are the refined sugars in foods and drinks like syrups, cereals, and soft drinks.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, thus providing longer-lasting energy. Unlike sugars, complex carbs are often healthy. They can, for example, help people with type 2 diabetes manage blood sugar spikes. Starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes, beans, and lentils all contain complex carbs.
Does Coffee Have Carbs?
A simple cup of black coffee has less than 1 gram of carbs and is considered carb-free. That assumes, of course, that you don’t add milk, sugar, or other sweeteners, many of which do have carbs.
Coffee’s lack of carbs is kind of hard to believe since so many natural foods have carbs, so I want to take a minute to talk about why your favorite coffee beans are so keto-friendly.
Coffee Beans Have Natural Carbs
In their natural state, coffee beans have quite a few carbs. The coffee beans we know and love are actually the seeds of coffee cherries, the fruit of the coffee plant. As with most fruits, the coffee cherry has a lot of simple carbs, and the coffee bean itself has 31 grams of complex carbs.
But coffee beans aren’t just plucked and tossed in a bag. There are a few extra processing steps to consider.
First, the flesh is removed, leaving just the coffee bean behind. The seeds are then dried to remove 90% of their moisture. The real keto magic, though, happens in the next step.
Roasting and brewing
After being picked, the coffee beans are roasted to bring out the natural oils and flavors of the beans. This is also when flavorings are usually added to make flavored coffees.
If you were to eat roasted coffee beans, you’d get about 13 grams of carbs per ounce of beans. But none of that makes it through the final step and into your morning drink.
The roasted coffee beans are ground and brewed to make your cup of coffee. Between the roasting and brewing process, all of the carbs and calories have been left behind. Instead of 31 grams or even 13 grams of carbs, you are drinking a carb-free, keto-friendly drink.
Do Flavored Coffees Have Carbs?
When you buy flavored coffee beans, they’re usually carb-free, but there are multiple types of flavored coffees we need to consider: naturally- and artificially-flavored coffee beans and flavored coffee drinks.
Artificially-flavored coffee beans
Artificially-flavored coffee beans themselves have no added carbs/ calories or sugars to the bean. As far as carbs and calories go, these beans are the same as if you were drinking straight-up black coffee.
As always, though, check your packaging to make sure no sugars were added in the coffee bean flavoring process to make sure. If they did add any sugars or other carbs, they’d have to disclose it on the label.
While taste-wise, it is an excellent way to add flavor to your coffee without any heavy added sugars, calories, and carbs. It is essential to mention that it can contain other potentially dangerous additives such as Propylene glycol, depending on how the bean is flavored. It is often used to artificially flavor coffee beans.
While it is believed to be harmless when ingested in small doses, there are concerns that prolonged contact with propylene glycol can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Along with propylene glycol, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are present, both of which are cancer precursors and highly dangerous in large quantities.
Naturally-flavored coffee beans
Naturally-flavored coffee beans are typically carb-free and calorie-free. They’re generally the healthiest option for keto-friendly, flavored coffees.
Do check the label to make sure your favorite brand isn’t adding any extra sugars or carbs, but that’s not a common issue.
You may have a hard time finding naturally-flavored variants of some of your favorite flavored beans. Some natural flavorings simply aren’t strong enough to show through in the final coffee.
Flavored coffee drinks
The flavored lattes and other drinks you get at your favorite coffee shop don’t usually come from flavored beans.
These flavored coffees can be loaded with sugars, carbs, and lots of calories. Many are flavored with coffee syrups, also called simple syrups, and these often contain upwards of 8 grams of carbs per serving.
For example, one ounce of simple syrup contains 14 grams (0.5 oz) of carbohydrates, and a single pump of syrup is about half an ounce. So, the four pumps in a grande Starbucks vanilla latte add a whopping 28 grams of sugar from the syrup alone!
The milk will contribute carbs, too. Depending on the type of milk you request, you could be looking at 47 grams of carbs in your latte. That’s certainly not keto-friendly!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is flavored coffee keto?
Flavored coffee beans are keto-friendly as long as you don’t add non-keto sweeteners. Most flavored coffee drinks in coffee shops, though, are made with coffee syrups rather than flavored beans. Most flavored coffee syrups are not keto-friendly.
Flavored coffee beans are a great, keto-friendly alternative to those sugar-filled drinks you’re getting at Starbucks. If the flavoring isn’t enough, there are plenty of other ways to sweeten coffee without sugar.
Learning to love black coffee is a great goal, even if you’ve found a keto-friendly sweetener and carb-free flavored coffee that you’re happy with. Some of the world’s best coffees, like the unique Kona coffee beans, lose all of their subtlety when you douse them in additives.
So my final suggestion is this: Go get an AeroPress or an automatic pour-over coffee maker and see how much your drip coffee maker has been failing you over the years. Then, get a good coffee grinder and see what a difference freshly ground beans make. You’ll still enjoy flavored coffee (I know I do), but you’ll have a whole world of new options available to you.