Get Your Specialty Coffee Fix On Fewer Calories
Raise your coffee cup and drink to this: coffee is now king. After water, coffee consumption increased by seven percentage points in 2011 to surpass soft drinks as the most consumed beverage in the U.S. The National Coffee Association reports daily consumption of coffee stands at 65% among adults. There’s also coffee news on the calorie count front. Drinking a mug of home-brewed coffee with a spoonful or two of sugar and cream is passé. Now it’s all about specialty coffee drinks made by coffeehouses large and small. Their vast menu means navigating a range of calorie counts that could mislead even the savviest of CC members. Here we layout your options so you can make a go for your coffee without calorie count sticker shock.
Holiday Spice Without the Calorie Price
We’re just a week away from Thanksgiving, but coffee shops have already been capitalizing on our holiday spirit. In the past week, Starbucks, Caribou, McDonald’s, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Peets’ Coffee have been promoting their holiday menus like it’s Black Friday. Ads for their pumpkin-spice-this, and gingerbread-that are everywhere. The new offerings are just more of the same-offering up caffeine and a bunch of calories to boot.
Caribou Coffee is a distant second to Starbucks in the retail coffee business dollar-wise, but they are officially winning on the calorie front with their Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha. Their medium option at 16 oz. boasts 680 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 96 grams of carbs. That's more calories than a Big Mac. Starbucks’ Grande Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha is 550 calories with similar amounts of fat and carbs. Peets Coffee and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf aren’t far behind with comparable calorie counts for their White Chocolate offerings.
The Better Option: At Caribou Coffee, getting a small Northern Lite Vanilla White Mocha with no whip and skim milk cuts over 500 calories from its cousin with just 150 calories, 5 grams of fat and 23 carbs.
Best: At Starbucks, ask for a grande Iced Skinny Mocha made with their blonde roast blend coffee instead of espresso. This drink clocks in at only 100 calories, 12 grams of carbs and just 1 gram of fat.
Do you prefer tea over coffee? Check out the worst teas for your waistline and our healthy swaps.
Not-So-Nice Blended Ice
Whether it's a Freddo, Frappe or Frappuccino, ice blended drinks are a new way many of us get our coffee fix. Yes, added ice displaces some of the fat, sugar, and calories in a non-iced beverage, but the calorie count is still sky high. Take Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's Caramel Ice Blended Drink, it's a hefty 520 calories and 98 carbs in just 16 oz. A bottle of Coca Cola at the same size is 194 calories and 54 carbs. Starbucks' similar drink, the Caramel Frappuccino clocks in at 410 calories and 66 grams of sugar.
The Better Option: To reduce your cold coffee calorie count, go for an iced coffee with 2% milk and add sugar-free caramel flavor. That's just 110 calories and 24 grams of sugar from a grande at Starbucks.
Best: Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's Cafe Au Lait is an unsweetened version plus sugar-free caramel flavor adds up to just 50 calories in the 16 oz. size.
Not So Fast With Going Light
Often times, light versions of these high calorie drinks have more calories than they need to and more sugar than you'd think. For example, the previous Caramel Ice Blended drink I mentioned available at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers a No Sugar Added Option. That drink would still cost you 310 calories and boasts 62 grams of carbs. So going light isn't so easy. Take Starbucks, who offers light versions of many of their drinks. Turns out their formula for light is three different artificial sweeteners as in high fructose corn syrup, Sucralose, and Acesulfame-Potassium.
Tips to Slash Calories
The source of many coffee specialty drink calories include cream, added sugar, and other additives including pectin and maltodextrin. A crafty blend of ingredients ensures that coffee drinks are unique to each coffee retailer, which is why it's very hard to find ingredient lists. Check the ingredients on Starbucks' bottled drinks to get an idea of what you may be buying from your barista. That said, light won't nix hidden ingredients from your drink, you'll have to ask. Here are five tips for cutting calories at your coffee shop.
1. Whip it Not
The easiest way to drop 100 calories from any coffee drink is to skip the whipped cream topping. You’ll also save 11 grams of fat. If whipped cream is a must-have, ask for the fat-free option– it’s only 15 calories and you’ll save all the fat for another meal.
2. Skip the Drizzle
Like whipped cream, the drizzle on top of the drink will only be enjoyed after you've sucked up the drink. It's not icing on the cake, it's like the cherry on top, except it's not fruit. Skip the extra shavings and drizzle, and you'll save 30 to 50 calories depending on the ingredient you're skipping.
3. Skim It
Another way to skip extra calories is going for skim milk, however this is more about saving fat than calories. While the calorie-difference between a cup of fat-free milk and whole milk is just 60 calories, you’ll save a significant 8 grams of fat if you go skim. The larger the cup, the more calories saved.
4. Calorie-Free Flavors
While most don’t advertise it, many coffeehouses have flavors that won’t add any calories to your cup. DaVinci and Torani are two popular brands of sugar and calorie-free flavored syrups. Add these flavors to simple coffee, ice, and milk, and you'll naturally keep your calorie count low. Yes, these are artificial sweeteners.
5. Go Old-School
A cup of coffee is only 5 calories per serving. If you want to add hundreds of calories to the basic taste, you can do it yourself by adding sugar, cream, and other additions at the table like the good ol' days.
What are your favorite low-calorie specialty coffee drinks?
What you eat can have a direct effect on your skin if you're struggling with psoriasis. See what to shop for.