A person with diabetes, like everyone else, may occasionally drink alcoholic coffee. Be aware, however, that such coffees generally contain liqueurs, and often added sugar or whipped cream. Depending on their ingredients, their carbohydrate (sugar) content can easily match that of a dessert!

– Spanish coffee (coffee, coffee liqueur, white rum, whipped cream): 20 to 30 g of carbohydrates.

– Irish coffee (coffee, whisky, sugar coating on the rim of the glass, whipped cream): 15 g of carbohydrates.

After a meal, you could easily become hyperglycemic from the extra carbohydrates in an alcoholic coffee, if you haven’t accounted for them in your meal plan.

The table below summarizes the carbohydrate content of a few types of alcohol used in alcoholic coffees:

Alcohol (1 1/2 oz or 45 ml) Carbohydrate (g)*
Coffee liqueur 17 to 25
Cream coffee liqueur 10
Bailey’s® Irish Cream 11
Whiskey, rum, brandy 0

*Data from Health Canada’s 2018 “Canadian Nutrient File (CNF)” and from liquor companies.

Generally, these coffees contain 1 oz. (30 ml) to 1 1/2 oz. (45 ml) of alcohol, about the equivalent of a single alcoholic drink. Watch out for the effects of alcohol, if you drink this with other alcoholic beverages before or during a meal. If you are being treated with insulin, or take medication that stimulates the secretion of insulin by the pancreas1, drinking alcohol at supper or in the evening can put you at risk of delayed hypoglycemia, the next morning or even 24 hours later. If this applies to you, be sure to take the necessary precautions.

In summary, as is the case with all alcoholic and sweet beverages, alcoholic coffees must remain an occasional treat to enjoy in moderation.

1. Insulin secretagogues: gliclazide (Diamicron® and Diamicron MR®), glimepiride (Amaryl®), glyburide (Diabeta®, Euglucon®), repaglinide (GlucoNorm®).


Research and writing: Diabetes Québec team of dietitians and nutritionists

Adapted from: Cynthia Chaput (Spring 2015), “Les cafés alcoolisés,” Plein Soleil, Diabète Quebec, p. 9.

May 2017 (updated on July 2018)

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