Coffee Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Black coffee annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

To many of us, coffee is a staple of our daily diet. We use it to help perk ourselves up, to socialize, and to cap a satisfying meal. As much as science may tell us that is "good" or "bad" for us, the facts often do little to change our daily habits.

There are times, however, when the habit may cause us concern, usually when someone tells us that we are "drinking too much." Is there such a thing? And where exactly is the point where benefits of coffee become harmful?

Determining whether coffee is healthy or not depends largely on how you interpret the word "healthy." If your aim is to enjoy a satisfying drink that is low in calories, carbohydrate, and fat, then a plain black cup of coffee certainly fits the bill. 

Nutrition Facts

One cup of brewed black coffee with no cream or sugar added (240g) provides 2.4 calories, 0.3g of protein, 0g of carbohydrates, and 0g of fat. Coffee is a source of potassium and magnesium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 2.4
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 4.8mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0.3g
  • Potassium: 118mg
  • Magnesium: 7.2mg

Carbs

Plain black coffee with no added milk or sweeteners contains zero carbs.

Fats

Black coffee also contains no amount of fats, but adding any milk—or saturated fat, such as in bulletproof coffee—will change the fat makeup of a cup of coffee.

Protein

A 1-cup serving of black coffee contains a minimal amount of protein. Again, additions like milk or milk alternatives may boost the protein in a cup of coffee.

Vitamins and Minerals

Plain coffee contains a small amount of micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals. A single serving has 118mg potassium, 7.2mg magnesium, 7.1mg of phosphorus, 0.1mg of manganese, 4.7mcg of folate, 6.2mg of choline, and 4.8mg sodium.

Calories

A plain black cup of coffee has 2.4 calories per serving, which comes from a minimal amount of protein.

When you add milk, flavorings, syrups, sugar, and whipped cream, a single coffee drink can look more like a rich dessert. For example, one 16-ounce Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino drink weighs in at 440 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 63 grams of net carbs.

Summary

Black coffee is nearly calorie-free, with a minimal amount of protein and no carbs or fat. Coffee contains a small amount of vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, and choline.

Health Benefits

Besides delivering a trace amount of potassium, coffee has no real nutritional value. However, it does offer some apparent health effects. These may be related to coffee's caffeine content.

Promotes Weight Loss

Caffeine has long been tied to weight loss, with scientific studies it back it up. A 2019 meta-analysis and review examined the impact caffeine has on weight loss and found that caffeine intake can promote weight loss, and a decrease in body mass index (BMI) and body fat.

Reduces Risk of Heart Failure

The American Heart Association published a systematic review in 2012 which showed that a moderate daily consumption of coffee—about 4 servings—had a positive effect on reducing risk of heart failure.

Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that participants who consumed four or more cups of coffee per day saw a 30% reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes. The large study found daily coffee consumption can have a significant impact on the chronic condition; interestingly, decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee had similar effects.

Helps Prevent Liver Disease

A large cohort study, published in 2006, established the impact coffee can have on liver health, and found that caffeine helps protect the liver against cirrhosis. The protection also increases with intake volume, with four cups of coffee or more providing added help. More recent research, published in 2021, showed that coffee—even decaf—may help prevent chronic liver disease (which can lead to cirrhosis).

Helps Fight Cancer

According to a 2017 review of studies published in the British Medical Journal, coffee consumption was associated more with health benefits than harm. Roasted coffee is a complex mixture of over 1,000 bioactive compounds, some of which have potential therapeutic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects.

Among their findings, the researchers determined that drinking three to four cups of coffee per day lowered the overall incidence of cancer by 18% (most specifically prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, melanoma, oral cancer, leukemia, non-melanoma skin cancer, and liver cancer).

Adverse Effects

Despite these health benefits, coffee can exert negative effects on some people. For example, a 2017 study found that the risk of bone fracture increases significantly with every cup of coffee an older woman drinks. By comparison, the risk in older men appears to decrease. This undermines some of the early evidence suggesting that coffee was inherently beneficial to osteoporosis, a condition which affects women more than men.

There is also consistent evidence that coffee may increase the risk of fetal harm during pregnancy. Compared to pregnant people who do not drink coffee, those who consume caffeine are at an increased risk of pregnancy loss, preterm birth, or low birth weight.

Similarly, high coffee consumption was linked to an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Dark-roasted, cold-brewed coffee appears to have the least effect.

Unfiltered coffee, meanwhile, was seen to increase total cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Using coffee filters may help decrease this risk.

Coffee contains caffeine, a powerful stimulant which can trigger adverse symptoms if overused. While some heavy coffee drinkers will experience fewer symptoms over time, most will suffer episodic or chronic bouts.

People who drink more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day may be at an increased risk of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Stomach upset

Varieties

Coffee varieties, and their flavor profiles, strength, and amount of caffeine, all depends on the region the coffee plans were grown in, as well as the breeding of the plants. Different coffee species will have different strength of caffeine and flavor, and blends of multiple beans can produce more unique flavors.

Storage and Food Safety

Keep your coffee fresh by storing it in an air-tight container at room temperature. Avoid placing your coffee—in either bean form or ground—in the refrigerator, as it will begin to take on the different smells in the space.

How to Prepare

There are many different ways to prepare coffee, depending on the type of beans you use and the strength of the roast. Three popular ways to prepare coffee include:

  • Drip coffee machine: Use an automatic coffee machine to easily brew a cup of coffee. Place a filter in the coffee maker basket and add the ground coffee beans. Pour water into your coffee maker water container, and press "Start."
  • French press: This manual, no-appliance-needed, coffee brewing method only requires a French press machine. Add your coffee to the bottom of the French press, then fill the canister with water. Fit the metal filter, and press down so it filters the coffee beans, leaving only ready-to-drink brew.
  • Pour over: Boil water in a separate kettle. Meanwhile, place a coffee filter into the pour over brewer and add coffee grounds. Once the water is hot, slowly pour it over the ground beans, pausing once the coffee begins to drip into the pot. Slowly add more coffee until you have the required amount of finished coffee.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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