To cream or not to cream your coffee — that is the question. For some, creaming your coffee is simply a sin. Many believe that true coffee is best enjoyed black — that anything added takes away from that wonderful flavor and aroma.
If the thought of black coffee makes your teeth ache, there are other options — you can add sugar, a flavoring such as cinnamon, or a creamer. Thanks to the variety of creamers available, and their incredible taste, creamer tends to be the most popular among these choices. But sometimes, that flavor comes at a caloric cost.
If you’re looking to avoid creamers altogether, you can add almond or skim milk to your coffee. You could also just go with the classic and add straight cream, half-and-half, or whole milk. However, if you’re hung up on the idea of a sweet, condensed creamer and can’t imagine your morning cup without them, you should probably know which are the best and worst for your health.
We’ve examined 16 of the most popular creamers on the market and ranked them from most caloric and sugary to the least.
This creamer is, in a word, extra. Well played, Dunkin’. If you’re buying a creamer with this level of excess advertised on the label, you’re probably not trying to limit your fat and sugar. But if you are, we’re here to tell you that this is not your best choice. With 40 calories and 6 grams of sugar per tablespoon, you’re going to want to pour this dessert-like creamer lightly.
International Delight offers creamers inspired by some of America’s favorite chocolate candies, including Reese’s, Hershey’s, and Almond Joy. It’s no surprise these confections aren’t exactly good for you — they’re certainly not health foods. They are, however, delicious, and they do make for a creamy sweet DIY coffee beverage. And hey, your at-home blend will have less sugar than most Starbucks seasonal lattes. But even so, each tablespoon has around 6 grams of sugar and 35 calories. A little bit goes a long way.
This creamer has America running on sugar. Dunkin Donuts’ Vanilla creamer tied with the candy-inspired creamers from International Delight. They have the same amount of calories, sugar, and fat with just as few other nutrients. There are better vanilla options out there.
Like International Delight, Coffee-Mate gets creative with their creamers. They’re constantly rotating their options and adding seasonal flavors to their arsenal of sweet creamers. But the ones most consistently on the shelves include Crème Brulée, Hazelnut, Caramel Macchiato, and Italian Sweet Cream. They all have similar nutritional profiles, racking up 35 calories and 5 grams of sugar per tablespoon.
French Vanilla is a classic creamer flavor, so we singled out the flavor for your comparison. International Delight’s French Vanilla is a bit less sugary than their candy editions, with 5 grams of sugar in each tablespoon. They have 35 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, as well.
Coffee-Mate’s French Vanilla Creamer has the same nutritional value as its competitor, International Delight: There are 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 5 grams of sugar in each tablespoon of this rich vanilla flavor.
If you’re opting for a Dunkin’ Donuts creamer, this is your least sugary option. Two grams of sugar and 25 calories await you in each creamy tablespoon. Dunkin’ Donuts makes their creamer with skim milk to keep the fat content, just 1 gram, to a minimum.
Even though the sugar-free options of store-bought creamers have less sugar than some other competitors, these lost points because of how processed they are. International Delight pumps up the palm oil and other additives to enhance the sweet flavor of the “trivial” amount of corn syrup used in the blend. As a result, this creamer has more fat and artificial ingredients to make up for the “zero sugar” label.
Instead of regular sugar or corn syrup — main ingredients in many other creamers on this list — these sugar-free options from Coffee-Mate rely on “corn syrup solids,” a dried out and processed version of sugary corn syrup. This creamer has 15 calories, 1 gram of fat, and lots of extra processed ingredients.
Califia Farms makes dairy-free creamers, and the company is known for their simple ingredients and lack of processing. Their almond-based creamers come in sweet flavor varieties like Mexican Cocoa and Irish Cream. Of course, these flavors are sweeter than Califia Farms’ plainer alternatives. The Mexican Cocoa, for example, has 3 grams of sugar and 20 calories. Not bad for a cocoa-flavored delight!
Soy milk has been deemed the healthiest plant-based milk, and soy creamers are a pretty healthy option, too. Silk’s Original flavor soy creamer has 1 gram of sugar and 20 calories per serving.
Coffee-Mate’s Original flavor is a classic creamer that’s been in grocery aisles for ages. It’s held up over time, offering just 20 calories and less than a gram of sugar per serving. It’s a more processed option than some of the others on this list, costing it some of the ranking.
Califia Farms Vanilla Creamer is the lowest sugar option for anyone looking for flavor in their coffee. At just 15 calories and 2 grams of sugar per serving, the creamer is sweetened using pure cane sugar and natural vanilla flavoring, with just a dash of sea salt.
Coconut milk has less protein than almond milk so far as full beverages go, but in the case of a creamer, the protein is negligible regardless. Coconut milks are almost always lower in calories than soy and almond, and this creamer is no exception. Just 10 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar is in each serving of this creamy option.
Some people need sweetness in their coffee, but if you’re not one of them, this creamer is for you. The unsweetened nature of this option keeps the sugar content at zero, while providing just 10 meager calories in a tablespoon. The creamer is soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, and BPA-free (nearly everything-free, it seems), perfect for plant-based consumers looking to limit their sugar intake.
Walden Farms is known for their zero-calorie creations, concocting everything from salad dressing to mayonnaise to marshmallow dip calorie-free. They also make coffee creamer — the ingredients are something to balk at, however. The first two ingredients are water and food coloring (no wonder this is zero calories), followed by the ambiguous “cream flavor.” If you want to live your life calorie-free, you might have to settle for living joy-free, as well.
This option probably doesn’t taste great, though it’s the least caloric and a sugar-free option. Here are some healthy ways to flavor your coffee that actually taste great, without relying on creamer.