A Diabetic’s Guide To Coffee

Most diabetics drink coffee daily. Both coffee and diabetes are two of the most researched subjects by doctors and scientists in history. That’s why, in this article “A Diabetic’s Guide To Coffee”, we’re going to reduce the plethora of research down to just the salient points for diabetics who love drinking super smooth coffee. We’re going to answer the critical questions:

  1. Should diabetics drink coffee?
  2. What kinds of coffee should diabetics drink?
  3. If a diabetic is going to drink coffee, how much coffee is safe to drink?
Russell Roasting Decaf Coffee


I am a coffee professional, not a doctor, scientist, researcher, or health-nut. That being said, I’ve read a ton of research papers and articles regarding the effects that coffee has on diabetics. More importantly, I’ve also interviewed a number of diabetics, who drink coffee daily and discussed, at length, what coffee they drink, how they prepare it, and how their personal coffee decisions affect their blood sugar levels.

Secondly as a disclaimer, I hold the healthcare industry with a considerable amount of disdain. I believe the Hippocratic oath has been replaced with the bottom line. If you follow the money, i.e. who’s paying for the research, you can often predict the results of the research. All that to say, you have to take all medical research with a grain of salt. Personal research seems to be far more relevant.

1,000 Compounds In Coffee

Coffee has over 1,000 chemical compounds, many of which are extracted during the brewing process. Additionally, each of these compounds has its own unique effects on the human body and each with its own taste. How these compounds are extracted from the coffee depends on a number of factors during the processing, roasting, and brewing process.

From a diabetic’s point of view, the most important chemical compounds are the compounds that affect the drinker’s insulin and thus sugar levels. The one compound that has the biggest effect on insulin is caffeine.

Should Diabetics Drink Coffee?

What The Medical Experts Tell Us About Coffee and Diabetes

Diabetic Coffee

Adverbs Used By Medical Researchers

Should diabetics drink coffee? Unfortunately, getting a straight answer from the experts is problematic. Taking a look at studies from long established research facilities, such as The Mayo Clinic and the like, we find almost every study’s conclusions are filled with a plethora of adverbs, like:

  • Maybe
  • Perhaps
  • Can be
  • Possible
  • Might be
  • Could be
  • Tends to be
  • Conceivable

What that means to me, is that the data does not point definitively to any strong conclusion. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at what “might” be true.

Coffee Affects Everyone Differently

As many of us have witnessed, coffee affects people differently. Some people complain that one cup of coffee in the morning, will keep them awake all night. Others can drink a pot of coffee late at night, go to bed, and sleep like a baby.

Likewise, the effect of coffee and caffeine on diabetics also runs the gambit of not affecting blood sugar levels in the least, to those diabetics that just get down-wind of coffee and their blood sugar levels skyrocket or drop like a rock. So, should diabetics drink coffee. Obviously, it depends.

Making coffee for the wrong reason
Drink Black Coffee

Should Diabetics Drink Coffee?

Generally speaking, caffeine seems to interfere with insulin’s job of regulating one’s blood sugar levels. If caffeine does affect an individual, its most often effect is raising one’s sugar levels. That being said, there are some people whose sugar levels actually drop as a result of drinking coffee. This is true of both Type 1 diabetics and Type 2 diabetics. How much are one’s sugar levels affected? Again, that depends on the person. Generally speaking, the effect is minimal, but certainly measurable.

So, should diabetics drink coffee? That depends. The effects are different for everyone. For those diabetics that are already regular coffee drinkers, the effects of caffeine seem to be far less than for new coffee drinkers. That’s because a regular coffee drinking diabetic’s body becomes accustomed to the caffeine and thus the caffeine’s effect seems to be less.

Coffee Reduces Risk of Acquiring Type 2 Diabetes

The only universal conclusion in nearly every research paper on coffee and diabetics is that regular coffee drinkers, who are not diabetic, have a much less likelihood of becoming a Type 2 diabetic.

The reason behind this benefit is that coffee contains quite a bit of bioflavonoids and antioxidants, both of which are anti-inflammatories and thus good for your body.

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fresh roast coffee

How Much Coffee Is Too Much?

As state above, in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, caffeine has a tendency to increase blood sugar levels to a minor but measurable degree. Obviously, the more coffee one drinks the more profound effect on one’s sugar level. Not surprisingly, caffeine also increases blood sugar levels for non-diabetics as well, yet to a much lesser degree.

Numerous studies show that sugar level changes are generally noticeable at about 400mg of caffeine per day. That would be about 4 cups of regular coffee. This is true for both diabetics and non-diabetics. So, in answering the question, “should diabetics drink coffee”? That depends in large part how much they drink. Keep it under 4 cups a day, and you should be fine.

Drink Black Coffee

Suffice it to say, adding to your coffee anything that contains sugar is going to dramatically affect a diabetic’s blood sugar levels. Obviously, you’re better off drinking your coffee black. Good luck with that, because most industrial coffee companies offer nothing but bitter and burnt coffee, which almost demands adding:

    • Sugar
    • Sweetened Creamer
    • Chocolate
    • Caramel
    • Most flavorings
    • Artificial Sweeteners – Obviously artificial sweeteners don’t generally affect one’s blood sugar levels, but they often have other adverse physical effects. Their worst effect is training your body and mind to want sweets, which obviously are harmful to diabetics.
Diabetics Should Drink Black Coffee
best kona coffee

Diabetic to Diabetic Advice

 The most credible research on this subject is conducted by diabetics upon themselves. Some of this research is very well done and very interesting.

For instance, the article “The Great Coffee Experiment and Blood Sugar Effect” written by Mike Hoskins is nothing short of genius. Below are some of his thoughts. I’m also adding my professional advice on this subject as a coffee expert.

Test Yourself

Nothing beats testing yourself. As a diabetic, you’re already testing your blood sugar on a regular basis. Try testing your blood sugar as soon as you get out of bed, just before eating breakfast, then an hour after eating breakfast. Do this test without drinking coffee.

On another day, test your blood sugar levels at the same times as stated above, but this time drink some coffee before or while eating breakfast, and then test your blood sugar level as you did above, one hour after breakfast. Make sure to document the effects.

Again, answering the question, “Should Diabetics Drink Coffee”, it depends on who’s drinking the coffee. And the only way to answer that question is to test yourself.

Experiment with coffee
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Mike’s Story

Mike is a self-proclaimed coffee fanatic and also a Type 1 Diabetic. Mike may not be a data analyst, but he sure could be. The level of detail in which he cronicles his blood sugar levels when drinking coffee is exceptionally detailed.

His conclusion is that coffee and thus caffeine does in fact affect his blood sugar levels. Bottom line is that, for him, caffeine kept under 400 milligrams per day (4 cups), does in fact increase his blood sugar levels, but not by very much.

Karen’s Story

My sister Karen is a self-proclaimed coffee fanatic and also a Type 2 Diabetic. Like Mike above, Karen tests her blood sugar level soon after getting out of bed in the morning. She then drinks her coffee while eating breakfast. An hour later, she tests her blood sugar level again.

Karen’s experience is a little unusual, but not unhear of. For Karen, coffee actually reduces her blood sugar levels.

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Should Diabetics Drink Coffee?

Actually that’s too big of a question, because the answer is, “It depends”. Since caffeine and coffee affect people differently, there’s no one easy answer.

You might never be able to drink coffee without having severe effects to your blood sugar. Yet most diabetics find ways to dramatically minimize caffeine’s effect on their blood sugar.

Drink Better Coffee

Often experts suggest that if you’re going to drink coffee then drink it black. As stated above, the challenge with drinking your coffee black is that a vast majority of industrial coffee tastes disgustingly bitter and burnt. That’s why diabetics are tempted to add anything and everything to their industrial coffee to make it not taste like industrial coffee. So “Stop It!” Stop drinking industrial coffee.

The solution is to drink better coffee. Here at Lake City Coffee we specialize in coffee that’s smooth as silk (non-bitter), gently roasted (not burnt), and naturally sweet. As one customer put it, “With coffee this good, a person would be a fool to add anything to this coffee”.

Yet, if you must add anything to your coffee, we suggest that you add 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream. The amount of sugar and calories in this little bit of cream is negligible.

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Caffeine affects insulin’s job of regulating sugar levels. How much a person’s sugar levels are affected by coffee depends on a number of factors including:

  • The person’s physiology
  • What coffee they drink
  • How it’s brewed
  • When they drink it
  • What they add to their coffee
  • How much coffee they drink

Diabetic coffee lovers are better off drinking their coffee black. The best black coffee will be coffee that’s smooth as silk (non-bitter) and also not over roasted (not black).

Lake City Coffee

About 35% of coffee drinkers drink their coffee black. Because our coffee is smooth as silk (non-bitter) and gently roasted (not burnt), nearly 60% of our customers drink their coffee black.

What does this mean to diabetics? It means that you can have your cake and eat it too. Our Lake City Coffee is so good that you’ll be very satisfied with less coffee and you’ll not feel the need to add sugar or cream to our coffee. Less coffee but more comfort food satisfaction is the objective here at Lake City Coffee.

If you’re looking for coffee that diabetics find more palatable and worthy of drinking black, then you’re in the right place. Take a look at our reviews and you’ll want this coffee. No brag, just fact.

Russell and Alisha Volz
Coffee Smell Test


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