When Brandon Dickens decided to launch a line of specialty coffees at his country restaurant and catering service, he was thinking of his wallet: He and his wife were spending upwards of $10 every day on sweet coffees from a drive-thru line.
“I love coffee. I love a good sweet chocolate or caramel mocha,” Dickens said.
He figured The Corner Kitchen could make specialty coffees, too, for him and his customers.
Then Dickens turned to his long-time friend and cook for guidance — and she had her own vision.
“I said, ‘If we’re gonna do coffee, we need to do it in a keto, sugar-free friendly way also,’ so people don’t feel excluded from certain things that we offer,” said Barb King.
She’s a part-owner of the Bigley Avenue building where the business is based, and a walking, talking ad for the ketogenic diet.
“I started a couple of years ago. I was a Type 2 diabetic, my A1C was out of whack, I was taking a bunch of medications, just didn’t feel good,” King said.
“I wanted to live a longer life and feel better doing it,” she added.
Today she’s down more than 80 pounds, is full of energy, says she feels great and takes no medications at all.
But it hasn’t always been easy, especially when it comes to dining out: What if you’re one of the more than 255,000 diabetics in West Virginia? What if you have another condition that makes it necessary to avoid sugar, carbohydrates or both?
What if you just want to be healthier?
The keto diet calls for moderate amounts of protein but sharply limits carbohydrates and added sugars, and has become a popular — if challenging — way of eating, even for those without medical conditions.
“When your body enters ketosis, that means that it’s switched from a carbohydrate-burning machine to a fat-burning machine. It uses your stored fat or the fat that you ingest as energy instead of sugar and carbohydrates,” said King.
A lot of times eating out with those restrictions means limiting your choices to a handful of not-always-tempting options.
And as anyone who’s ordered a cup of coffee lately already knows, there is a mountain of far more tempting options to face: How much sugar? Fat free or whole milk? Any cream? What about whipped toppings?
There are also increasingly exotic flavor choices, anything from French Vanilla or hazelnut to caramel, blueberry or Ghirardelli chocolate.
But when it comes to something as simple as coffee, making a healthy choice can be a bitter cup to swallow.
The Corner Kitchen, which already offers a wide range of keto-friendly entrees and desserts, has just launched a new line of sugar-free, low-carb keto-friendly coffee flavors featuring flavors and milk options with no sugar and very low carbs.
“It’s not made with regular cows’ milk. It’s made with almond milk or half-and-half, which is much lower in sugar and carbohydrate count than regular milk,” said King.
The sweeteners they use are Splenda, Stevia or Erythritol, which doesn’t have the effect on blood sugar levels some other artificial sweeteners can have, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The result is a 20-ounce drink that’s sugar-free with one net carb per cup, and — minus the whipped cream and syrup on top — not too different in taste from a standard caramel macchiato with 300 calories, 43 carbohydrates and 40 grams of sugar.
The coffees are already selling like healthy, delicious hotcakes.
“If you wanted something sweet like that as a diabetic, it’s hard for you to do that because it’s hard to find certain ingredients that you like and can use, and that’s why we came out with the keto coffee. We want them to be allowed to have a coffee and enjoy the flavor,” Dickens said.
Heading into a season known for its multiple, extra servings of sugar and carbs, “A lot of customers are really thankful for this,” he added.
If you go: The Corner Kitchen is located at 1701 Bigley Avenue in Charleston. For more information, call 304-400-4096, visit them online at www.wvcornerkitchen.com, or follow The Corner Kitchen WV on Facebook.