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Can You Drink Coffee with Kidney Disease?

For many people, their daily routine starts with pouring a cup of coffee in the morning. The caffeine in coffee gives us a boost of energy so we can take on the day. If you are living with kidney disease, you may be wondering if coffee is bad for your kidneys and if you can drink coffee with kidney disease. It’s true that you’ll have to make a few adjustments to what you eat and drink when living with kidney disease to protect your kidney function, however, coffee can be enjoyed in moderation. Being mindful of what you add to your coffee, like cream and sugar, and how much you drink is key to making a kidney-friendly cup of coffee. 

Is Caffeine Bad for My Kidneys?

Caffeine, an active ingredient in coffee, is not inherently bad for you or your kidneys. Researchers have found several benefits of consuming a moderate amount of caffeine. It can help improve your energy levels and boost your metabolism to aid in fat burning, and it is high in antioxidants.1 Overall, caffeine is not likely to damage your kidneys as long as it is consumed in small doses.

It is important to note that caffeine is a stimulant, which can affect some people’s blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for high blood pressure, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to have caffeine and/or coffee and how much.

The Relationship between Potassium, Coffee, and Kidney Disease

Potassium is an electrolyte that your body needs to function properly and is found in many foods, including coffee. The challenge when living with kidney disease is that your kidneys aren’t able to balance your potassium levels. Therefore, being mindful of how much potassium you consume is important to ensuring your potassium number isn’t too high or too low. Since potassium plays a role in keeping your heart healthy, a significant imbalance in your potassium levels can lead to complications with your heart, such as an irregular heartbeat or heart attack.

There are about 49 milligrams of potassium in 100 grams of coffee, and 3 cups of coffee is considered high in potassium.2 If you are going to drink coffee when living with kidney disease, keep track of how much you consume so you can factor that into your daily potassium intake. What you add to your coffee, such as cream or milk, can also increase the potassium content.

5 Tips for Enjoying Coffee with Kidney Disease

For loyal coffee drinkers, the good news is being diagnosed with kidney disease does not mean you have to stop drinking coffee. But before you turn the coffee pot on, here are a few important tips to consider. Keeping the following in mind will help you enjoy a kidney-friendly cup of coffee.

1. Consume coffee in moderation

As with most things, moderation is key. It is recommended that you consume less than 3 cups, approximately 18 to 24 ounces, of freshly brewed coffee per day.3 Drinking more than 3 cups a day could lead to health complications over time. Having a moderate amount of coffee will help keep your potassium levels as well as your caffeine consumption in check. Having too much caffeine could cause your blood pressure level to increase, which could lead to health complications. Too much or too little potassium can also impact your heart by causing an irregular heartbeat or heart attack.

2. Factor coffee into your fluid allowance 

When living with kidney disease, what you drink and how much is important since your kidneys may not be able to filter as much extra fluid from your body. To manage your fluids, your doctor may ask you to limit your fluid intake. If this is the case, be mindful of your coffee consumption so you don’t exceed your daily fluid allowance. You may need to limit or avoid drinking coffee if it’s causing excess fluid buildup. When kidneys fail, fluid intake becomes even more important to ensure dialysis can remove enough excess fluid during each treatment.

3. Limit cream and sugar in your coffee

It is common for people to add creamer, milk, or sugar to their coffee. The downside to these additives for a person with kidney disease is that they can increase your phosphorus and potassium levels. Some manufacturers add chemical phosphates to coffee creamers, which are easily absorbed by the body. Milk is also considered high in potassium. When living with kidney disease, your kidneys start to lose function and aren’t able to filter excess phosphorus and potassium from your blood as well, which can lead to heart complications. For these reasons, it’s important to limit or avoid creamers and milk in your coffee.

Be mindful of how much sugar you’re adding to your coffee. This is especially important if you have diabetes because limiting added sugars helps better manage glucose levels. Whenever possible, it is recommended that you drink black coffee.

Reading the nutrition label on products can also help you identify how much sugar an item contains and if there are added phosphates. Check the list of ingredients and choose options with no added phosphates and less than 10 percent of added sugars.

4. Consider alternative beverages

If you’re looking to limit your caffeine intake while sticking to your normal routine, try swapping out your regular coffee for decaf. This can be a great alternative if caffeine affects your blood pressure.

Other alternatives to coffee are black and green tea. They have lower caffeine and potassium levels than coffee.

5. Talk to a registered dietitian or physician about your coffee consumption

Coffee affects all of us a little differently, so make sure to talk to your physician and registered dietitian about your coffee consumption. They are best suited to provide personalized advice and recommendations that work for your unique health needs. Check in with your dietitian and physician often, sharing any updates about changes to your diet, mood, lifestyle, or medications and supplements. Providing detailed information gives your care team a clear picture of how you’re feeling and allows them to monitor your overall health and work with you to best suit your needs.

Enjoying Coffee with Kidney Disease in the Long Term

Living with kidney disease means making certain adjustments to what and how much you eat and drink. Fortunately, kidney disease does not mean you have to get rid of coffee if you enjoy drinking it. Generally, coffee is safe to drink in moderation and when limiting cream and sugar. It’s best to drink your coffee black. If you are managing other chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, talk to your doctor and renal dietitian about the potential impact of coffee on your health.


1 Gunnars, Kris. “13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science.” Healthline, September 20, 2018.

2 Radhakrishnan, Rohini. “Is Coffee High in Potassium?” Medicine Net, April 9, 2021.

3 Chauhan, Veeraish. “Coffee's Effect on the Kidneys.” Verywell Health, July 31, 2020.



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