Best Types of Coffee to Enjoy on a Special Diet

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Discover the best types of coffee to enjoy on a special diet.

It’s not surprising that over 150 million Americans today drink coffee each day (source). The average amount of coffee enjoyed by men and women alike is 3 cups a day (source)

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Coffee is one of the most popular commodities in our culture today. Devoted coffee lovers across the U.S. depend on coffee to make it through the day. Others are more relaxed and comforted after a cup of joe.  

Coffee is the most significant imported good in the U.S. (source).

You may have a dairy sensitivity that has changed the way you order your coffee.  Maybe you’ve stubbornly continued your coffee habit despite the tummy trouble it brings. Perhaps you’ve just started following a vegan lifestyle, and you’re not sure how to drink vegan coffee. 

If you’re following a special diet, you may have considered giving up coffee.  You may have already given up coffee because you’re just overwhelmed with what to order. Could you be okay with missing out on the latest coffee trends, like dalgona whipped coffee? Ugh– it hurts just thinking about it.

You shouldn’t have to give up coffee or suffer from the effects of drinking it. Let’s be real– you may not be able to drink your coffee in the way that you once did. There’s still hope! In this article, you may find new ways to enjoy all types of coffee like never before.

Types of Coffee Beans

The Coffea plant produces the coffee bean, which is different than beans, lentils, legumes, and pulses (source). The two types most commonly made coffee beans in the world are Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica coffee plant produces about 60% of the world’s coffee today, and the Robusta coffee plant has about 40% (source).

coffee beans in a mug on a table


Arabica coffee is the most popular coffee in North America (source). Sweet and delicate describe the flavor profile of Arabica coffee. When Arabica coffee is sweetened, its taste is more subtle  (source). Arabica beans have   0.8–1.4% caffeine (source)

This famous coffee bean boasts higher quality compared to the Robusta coffee bean(source).

The Arabica coffee plant is a bit high maintenance and requires special care (source). Arabica coffee plants are farmed in rainy areas where the elevation is high above sea level (source)

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Blue Mountain coffee has a global reputation for being smooth, tasty, high-quality coffee (source). This expensive Arabica coffee comes from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica (source). Its humid and warm climate is perfect for growing Arabica coffee beans (source).


Robusta coffee is most well known in the Middle East,  Europe, and Africa (source).

Robusta coffee is as strong as it sounds. Compared to the Arabica coffee bean,  Robusta beans have more caffeine; 1.7–4%(source). So if you tend to be sluggish in the mornings, Robusta coffee can give you the zap you need to get moving. 

Rubbery and burnt describe its natural taste source). Robusta coffee is better appreciated in countries where very strong coffee is a social custom (source).

Different Types of Coffee Drinks

Black Coffee

About 35% of coffee lovers favor black coffee (source). Some prefer to drink coffee this way because of a preference for coffee in its natural flavor. Others may drink it this way to avoid added fat and sugar for health reasons.

It’s cheap, can be easily made at home, and unless you’re allergic to coffee beans, it can be enjoyed by anyone on a special diet.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee comes in the form of coffee powder or coffee crystals (source).  The instant coffee granules come from brewed coffee beans (source). It’s designed to be made quickly by adding hot liquid to the powder or crystals (source). Instant coffee is eco-friendly and easily a part of a special diet (source).

Cold Brew

Coffee grounds are steeped in chilled or room temperature water (source). After an extended time, a filter or french press yields concentrated coffee (source). Here’s the part where you can add your preferred milk. If adding almond milk to your coffee has gotten old, you might try the cold brew with rice, soy, or oat milk.

Cold-brew is still high in caffeine but tastes less bitter than regular coffee (source). Its lower acidity (compared to hot coffee) may leave you with little to no digestive disturbances (source).

Iced Coffee

Iced coffee and cold brew may sound like synonymous names. The truth is, they are two different drinks.

Iced coffee is simply hot coffee poured over ice.

You can add your choice of dairy-free creamer. Spices, extracts, and herbs can make unique additions like cinnamon, cocoa, cayenne pepper, caramel extract, vanilla extract,  or fresh mint leaves.

iced type of coffee on table

Cafe Au Lait

A french term for “coffee with milk.” If you’re dairy-free or vegan, you don’t have to feel like this coffee beverage is not for you.  Cafe au lait is a beverage made of equal parts coffee and steamed milk (source). Just heat non-dairy milk like coconut milk and add it to your hot coffee.


A small amount of water (close to boiling) is forced through finely ground coffee beans using pressure (source). This process produces highly concentrated coffee with heightened flavors and a lot of strength (source). Espresso can be an excellent option if you can’t tolerate large volumes of coffee. 

If espresso is too strong for your tastebuds, your barista can make many other types of coffee drinks using espresso.

expresso type of coffee in a cup on a table

How To Drink Expresso

A serving of espresso is also known as a “shot.” A single shot is one fluid ounce, so a double shot of espresso is two fluid ounces (source). The term shot might make you think it should be taken all at once. Espresso should be slowly sipped to appreciate its rich flavor (source).

Espresso Drinks (source)

  • Caffe Latte– steamed milk + a double shot of espresso
  • Cappuccino– steamed milk + foamed milk + two shots of espresso
  • Flat White– steamed milk + a single shot  of espresso (source)
  • Red-eye– filtered coffee + a single shot of espresso
  • Cafe Americano– hot water + a single shot of espresso
  • Long Black– hot water + a double shot  of espresso(source)

You can substitute steamed cow’s milk for plant-based milk. If you have trouble tolerating regular espresso, cafe americano makes a great alternative.

Expresso vs. Coffee

Your typical brewed coffee, also known as drip coffee, is the most popular brewed method in the U.S.(source)

Drip coffee depends on the pressure that is heat-induced. The heat sends the water up the coffee maker (source). Gravity pulls the water down onto the coffee grounds, and the coffee drip begins (source).

The process “dissolves considerably less of the coffee’s soluble mass, and the paper filters common to this brew method will trap many of the oils that would otherwise be present in espresso,”(source).

many types of coffee displayed on a table

Bottom Line

Please, don’t give up on coffee. Use these suggestions to shake up your coffee world. Don’t give up until you find a coffee drink you both love and meets your allergy-free needs.  Hopefully, this article proves to you there’s a variety of coffee drinks that taste great without the stomach upset.

For more incredible health benefits of beans, read our post on Beans and Lentils: Humble Yet Powerful Pantry Staples.

coffee beans and ground coffee in spoons on table


  • Dr. Lisa Hugh DHA MSHS RD LDN CLT

    Dr. Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration and has a Master's of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

  • Gabrielle McPherson MS RDN LDN

    Gabrielle McPherson is a Registered Dietitian and Freelance Writer. Gabrielle has a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and a bachelors degree in Dietetics. She has worked extensively with pediatrics and works as a freelance health and nutrition writer.

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