Instant coffee has been growing in popularity. Older brands, like Taster's Choice, are maintaining their positions, while new brands, like Starbuck's Via, are gaining ground. With minimal prep effort and equipment needs, instant coffee provides immediate, low-effort, caffeinated gratification.
When instant coffee is left "naked" or just black, it is actually a healthy beverage choice. It has minimal nutritional value, meaning that water is its only nutrient. Also new research highlights potential antioxidant value from this traditional beverage.
Instant black coffee has practically no calories in it. Just four calories are in one rounded teaspoon of instant coffee, making about one cup. Left black, this beverage is a healthy choice for breakfast or the afternoon coffee break.
No Other Nutrients
Instant black coffee doesn't have any other nutrients in it. There is no fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins or minerals. Water is the only other nutritional value that can be noted. It has so few nutrients that it doesn't require any nutrition information on its packaging. As long as no nutrition claims are made on the package, the typical Nutrition Facts box won't be there.
Keep It Black
While black instant coffee has negligible nutrition, flavored versions can contain a lot of extra additions. Flavored instant versions with sugar and dairy-type ingredients usually have 50 to 60 calories in 2 rounded teaspoons, which makes about one cup prepared. Also, adding cream and sugar to black instant coffee can add the same number of calories or more. Keep coffee black to keep calories minimal.
Recent research has noted that black coffee does include antioxidants. Its antioxidant value is in the range of 15,000 to 17,000, extremely high for any food product. This is according to the ORAC scale, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. Again, keep coffee black to get the most benefit from these antioxidants, since milk may reduce the availability of these antioxidants in the body.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Although instant black coffee is virtually calorie-free and antioxidant packed, still be careful of drinking too much. The caffeine values can have a negative impact on breast health, bone health, and result in jittery nerves. Too much coffee can also cause dehydration. Stick to a moderate intake of two to three cups per day to maximize its nutritional benefit without going overboard.
- USDA's Nutrient Database
- "Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 15th Edition"; Jean A.T. Pennington; 17th Edition 1998