Of all the things I had to give up over the years, coffee was one I could never, ever get rid of. I’ve quit smoking, completely changed my diet, stopped drinking soda or any sugary drinks, etc. You get the picture. Coffee is the one vice I cling to, and I cling to it fervently, with all of my might. I’ll probably be buried with my favorite coffee cup because no one could pry it out of my hands.
So when I had to figure out a way to enjoy coffee while keeping it low carb, it took a lot of trial and error to come up with something that didn’t taste like a compromise. Here are the low carb coffee sweeteners I’ve tried. Some fell by the wayside and a couple of them remained staples in our cupboards. I hope you find one that works for you!
For many years, erythritol was the only low carb coffee sweetener I used. My favorite brand is Anthony’s. I switched to them at first because of price, at several dollars a pound cheaper than my old brand, but then I stuck around because they’re a great company with a whole lineup of organic, healthy products made in America and with great prices. Hard to beat such a winning combo.
Erythritol takes a little bit of getting used to. It doesn’t have quite the sweet flavor of sugar, but after drinking it, I found that I could no longer stand the sickening sweetness of sugar, so you do adapt. Friends don’t like having coffee with me if that’s all I have to offer, though.
Erythritol is said to be about 80% as sweet as sugar. Sounds kind of subjective to me, so I don’t know how they figured that out, but it definitely is not as sweet as table sugar. It has some health benefits though; namely that it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay.
At four grams of carbs per teaspoon, it’s a good thing erythritol is non-glycemic, meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. I love coffee enough that I’d gladly gave up meal carbs in a trade for being able to enjoy my coffee. I have about three cups a day in my Yeti mug (the best coffee cup ever made in the history of coffee cups, ever.) and used one slightly rounded tablespoon per cup, or roughly 14 grams of carbs. I don’t add any creamer, because I can’t do dairy (that’s a sad story for another day).
Cost: Anthony’s costs $26.99 for five pounds right now and one bag lasted me two months, used only for coffee. That gets a little bit expensive but coffee is worth it, right? Right?!
After using erythritol for several years, I gave another low carb coffee sweetener a try and it’s the one I currently use.
SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Liquid Stevia
I’m so glad I discovered this sweetener. I’d tried other types of stevia sweeteners but they all leave an aftertaste or just don’t taste good to begin with. SweetLeaf has done it right. I use 15 drops in the same 20 ounce Yeti tumbler. There are no carbs, so I don’t have to think about it, just drink, drink, drink.
SweetLeaf’s stevia is much sweeter than erythritol and the sweet is a clean sweet – no bitter hints or aftertaste at all. It goes great in all kinds of drinks. My kids like it in smoothies and teas too, but I tend to stick to honey for tea and drink it infrequently.
Cost: The cost of these drops is not quite half the price of the erythritol I was buying. I go through one of the four ounce containers every other month and the current price is $15.29. That’s a lot less expensive than erythritol and I can use it completely guilt free with zero carbs.
Perhaps an even bigger selling point for SweetLeaf stevia is the multitude of flavors available. For coffee, this is a clear winner. I really love the hazelnut flavor, but there are 16 flavors available in the regular drops, plus a variety of other flavors in the total span of their stevia products.
Other Ways to Lower Carbs in Coffee
If creamers are no issue for your diet, the creaminess really adds a sweet taste. Before I learned I have a genetic intolerance to dairy, I used either half and half from the store or–even better–whole milk from my goats. In the process of trying to get that creaminess, I also tried various substitutes, including almond milk (made at home, super easy), coconut milk, and my favorite dairy free creamer, nutpods. Nutpods are a combination of almond and coconut milk that make a surprisingly creamy texture in coffee. They are flavored but unsweetened so you can add whatever sweetener you prefer while still getting cool flavors. Hazelnut was my favorite with nutpods, too.
Adding creamer to your coffee will give you some wriggle room to reduce the amount of sweetener you put in. This means you could possibly still enjoy regular sugars by simply putting in less. This requires a little finesse to get right, but here are some ingredients and their carb counts:
- 1/4 cup half and half (3g)
- 1/4 cup whole cow milk (6g)
- 1/4 cup whole goat milk (3g)
- 1/2 cup nutpods (<1g) (nut milks tend to be less creamy, hence the doubled serving amount)
- 1/2 cup almond milk (<1g)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (3g)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (0g) with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (3g), blend in coffee with sweetener
- 1 teaspoon sugar (4g)
- 1 teaspoon erythritol (4g)
- 1 teaspoon honey (6g)
- 1 teaspoon stevia drops (0g)
Add in Fats
I was surprised at how satisfying and delicious coffee blended with coconut oil was. Add a bit of cocoa powder and sweetener, and you get a low carb mocha that leaves you feeling like you ate a meal. This can also help keep blood sugar levels stabilized, allowing you potentially more leeway in low carb coffee sweetener choices.
Coffee doesn’t have to become a sad relic of the past or something you only endure instead of enjoy when you’re on a low carb diet. I have made adjustments to how I drink it and it’s certainly nothing like the now horrendous to me chocolate milk + sugar combo I used to use, but it’s a simple pleasure I can enjoy without any guilt.
What about you? What’s your favorite coffee combo on a low carb diet?