Black Coffee vs Milk Which Is Healthier

glass of milk

Black coffee and milk coffee have their respective camps, with each having millions of fans. Usually, people swear by the taste of either black coffee or coffee with milk. But sometimes, the two camps argue around the healthiness of their favorite type of coffee, which can be confusing for novices.

Black coffee is healthier than milk for weight control purposes, while milk is healthier for boosting one’s immune system and bone health. Coffee with milk can be problematic only when you consume more calories than you need.

In this article, you will learn about the pros and cons of black coffee and milk so you can decide which is the healthier option for you. By reading the full post, you’ll learn more about the specifics, like which one helps prevent acne, improves skin, health, etc. For a broader look, the following table will help.

Coffee NameCoffee TypeHealthy or Unhealthy
AmericanoBlack CoffeeGood for cardiac health and ability to fight diseases
EspressoBlack CoffeeGood for your heart and immunity
CappuccinoCoffee with MilkGood for your bone health and immunity. Bad for weight.
LatteCoffee with MilkGood for immunity and bone health. Can cause weight gain.
Drip CoffeeBlack CoffeeVery good for your cardiac health. Rich in antioxidants
Coffee with creamerCoffee with MilkUnhealthy
Black Eye CoffeeBlack CoffeeUnhealthy

Black Coffee: A Brief Overview

Black coffee is consumed without creamer or milk, which results in the beverage’s signature color. It is considered the purest form of coffee after espresso because it is diluted by water only. There are a few variations of black coffee, all differentiated by espresso source or brewing method.

  • Espresso – Considered the purest coffee, this beverage is made by passing high-pressure steam through coffee grounds. It results in the least diluted coffee with a layer of foam called crema.
     
  • Doppio – Double serving of espresso. Doppio means “double.”
     
  • Ristretto – While Espresso is considered the purest coffee, it is actually Ristretto that is the purest since it features an even smaller amount of water.
     
  • Cafe Americano – This is black coffee made from adding 2 to 3 shots of water to a shot of espresso. It is the default beverage baristas make when you say, “black coffee.”
     
  • Drip Coffee – Drip coffee is made over a longer period by “dripping” boiling water over coffee grounds until enough is accumulated in the collection flask. This beverage is among the strongest black coffee drinks.
     
  • Pourover Coffee – This black coffee is made by refreshing the water around the grounds at a constant rate. Made in multiple phases, this beverage tastes quite different compared to most other espresso-based drinks.
     
  • Long Black – Essentially an Americano made from more espresso than water. Most baristas add an extra shot of espresso and reduce a shot’s worth of water when you ask for this drink.
     
  • Immersion Brew – This black coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds into boiling water and letting them sit. It results in coffee that’s stronger than Americano but weaker than espresso.
     
  • Turkish coffee – A strong coffee made by boiling extra-fine coffee grounds in a cup-sized pot, Turkish coffee is different from the rest of the black coffee drinks in that it contains coffee grounds in the final serving because it is not filtered.
     
  • Black eye coffee – One of the strongest black coffee drinks, this one features a shot of espresso diluted in ordinary drip coffee or any other type of non-diluted black coffee.
     
  • Instant coffee – This is a coffee beverage made from freeze-dried black coffee. The coffee powder is dehydrated black coffee that becomes liquid when added to water. You can control the concentration of this beverage.

Since most of these beverages vary in the quantity of water or the method of coffee essence extraction, their benefits (and drawbacks) differ only in their intensity. For instance, a Doppio will have twice the alertness benefit of the espresso because it literally features two shots of espresso. Therefore, it makes sense to go over the pros and cons of all black coffee drinks in a single section.

Pros of Black Coffee

Fewer Calories

Black coffee features fewer calories than coffee with milk simply because no variety of black coffee contains anything other than water and coffee extract, both of which have fewer calories than any amount of milk that gets added into a variety of coffee with milk. This is considering both black and milk coffee have the same amount of sugar.

More Impact

Even though black coffee and its equivalent version of coffee with milk have the same amount of caffeine, the darker drink makes a bigger impact. This is mostly placebo because the connotations of alertness we have with espresso are better preserved when one’s senses aren’t overwhelmed by additives. In terms of caffeine, Starbucks frappuccino can sometimes have more than black coffee.

Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamin B2

Black coffee contains plenty of antioxidants and high levels of Vitamin B2. These are better for your skin health, slow down aging, and help you live longer. Coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the average American diet, which speaks to coffee’s richness. That said, adding milk doesn’t remove Vitamin B2 or antioxidants.

Better for Your Cardiac Health

Daily consumption of two cups of black coffee is linked to a reduced risk of cardiac arrest. Because the study links this positive effect to black coffee, it is considered superior to coffee with additives like milk or creamer, at least in this aspect.

Positive Social Connotations

Finally, we have the least tangible benefit of black coffee: it looks cool. From college all-nighters to extra hours in the office, black coffee is associated with working hard and being serious about success. These connotations can allow you to make a healthier first impression in a business meeting or at a conference.

Cons of Black Coffee

Doesn’t Taste Good Initially

If you’re choosing between black coffee and coffee with milk, you’re not a coffee regular just yet. In that case, black coffee will taste horrible. Coffee is an acquired taste, and the purer it is, the more you need to acquire the said taste. In some instances, you might end up overcompensating with sugar, which contains more calories than milk.

Can increase blood pressure

If you’re newly inducted to coffee consumption, avoid oversaturated coffee drinks like the black eye because they can suddenly spike your blood pressure. This is dangerous for people who already suffer from high blood pressure or arrhythmia. While adding milk will not do much to offset this, it ensures that the quantity of coffee you take is less saturated with espresso.

Might Make You Anxious

Finally, if you’re generally more anxious, you might start feeling restless after having black coffee. Coffee with milk is comparatively more mellow and can sometimes even have a calming effect. This drawback of black coffee doesn’t apply to everyone though only people who seem to have excess energy as it is.

Coffee With Milk: A Brief Overview

“Coffee with Milk,” was a term initially used to signal to the barista to bring a shot of milk with a black coffee. However, the term has evolved to cover the different types of coffee beverages that feature milk as a major additive. 

Drinks like frappuccino and mocha are excluded because the milk component is much smaller than chocolate. This leaves behind just over half a dozen popular coffees under the umbrella of milk coffee.

  • Espresso with milk – This is the purest version of coffee with milk because it features the least amount of water. It also has the mellowest taste of all milk coffee drinks.
     
  • Americano with milk – This is more like black coffee with milk added to reduce the rough texture of the beverage. Milk is noticeable but less so than in espresso with milk.
     
  • Cappuccino – This features a frothed milk layer at the top and steamed milk under that, both in quantities equal to the espresso used for making the beverage.
     
  • Latte – Latte is like cappuccino without the frothed milk as it features steamed milk (about two shots) in a single shot of espresso.
     
  • Machiatto – Machiatto contains barely a splash of milk to espresso. It is the lighter version of espresso with milk.
     
  • Flat White – Features two shots of espresso and micro-foamed milk. It is one of the stronger milk coffee beverages.
     
  • Instant coffee with creamer – This drink is the ‘americano with milk’ version of instant coffee. It also has the fewest health benefits that are usually associated with milk coffee because it doesn’t contain fresh milk.

Pros of Milk Coffee

Contains Protein

Milk contains protein, and as long as your milk coffee isn’t a macchiato or a creamer coffee, you’re getting a non-nominal dose of milk with each serving. Protein helps build and maintain muscle and is a building block of growth.

Contains Vitamin A and D

Vitamin A reduces acne, improves immunity, and helps you see better at night. It also promotes bone health. Vitamin D protects your heart health and helps absorb calcium, which is also found in milk. As long as your coffee contains enough milk, you’ll get these benefits.

Contains Calcium

Calcium is good for bone growth and maintenance. Combined with Vitamin A, Calcium becomes a great asset for your bone health. Whether you can get all the calcium you need from the milk in your coffee is debatable, but it is clear that you will get more calcium by having coffee with milk instead of black coffee.

Tastes Better

Taste can be subjective to this pro should be taken with a grain of salt. For novices, coffee with milk is much more palatable than black coffee. But if you love the taste of espresso, then you might consider milk a nuisance. This advantage stands if you’ve been having coffee for less than three months.

Looks Good

A far less debatable advantage of milk coffee over black coffee is that it looks good. Black coffee might make you look good (i.e. hardworking), but a picture of Americano isn’t going to get the same reaction as a photo of a cappuccino. Explore #coffeegram on Instagram to see what the majority of people are posting.

Cons of Milk Coffee

Contains More Calories

Milk coffee contains more calories than black coffee. And to make matters worse, these are liquid calories that are easy to consume. If you’re on a diet or are trying to lose weight, coffee with any amount of milk might not be healthy for you.

Is Relatively Harder to Make

depending on the type, milk coffee can be hard to make. Even if you don’t make your own coffee, getting a beverage that’s difficult to make means you pay more for it. That’s why Cafe Americano is one of the cheapest coffee drinks at any coffee shop.

Which One Should You Have?

Now that we have covered the pros and cons of both black coffee and coffee with milk, let’s look at which one is better for you specifically. For the most part, the benefits of black coffee remain when one adds milk, but the pros of milk coffee are absent in black coffee.

The only exclusive edge black coffee seems to have is in the calorie department, which makes the answer pretty clear: if being overweight is among your top three issues, you should stay away from coffee with milk, and opt for black coffee instead.

In most other cases, you’ll be better off having coffee with milk. And if you find it very hard to gain weight, then you can have black coffee without any worries. That said, if you like the taste of black coffee, you can consume milk without adding it to your coffee.

Final Thoughts

You should get black coffee if you like its taste or if you’re actively looking to lose weight. In the latter case, you might also want to get stevia, which contains far fewer calories than sugar. In all other instances, milk coffee is superior in health benefits as well as texture and taste.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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