If you adore coffee, you are not alone. The majority of Americans consume an average of three cups of coffee per day. While we occasionally brew our own coffee at home, we clearly succumb to the allure of a grab-and-go coffee drink from the corner coffeehouse. And why would you not? Coffee is an excellent pick-me-up that has been shown in studies to have health benefits.
Add a talented barista (whom you may recognise by name) and you’ve got yourself a cup of indulgence. However, unless you prefer a simple black, your coffee concoction is likely to contain as many sweeteners, fat, and calories as flavour. Not to be concerned! A small adjustment or two is all that is required to order a cup that is both healthy and satisfying.
The endearing side
Coffee is bitter, and sweeteners alleviate this bitterness. Nonetheless, a flavoured coffee beverage can be quite sugary, typically containing more than 40 grammes (10 teaspoons) of sugar per medium 16-ounce serving. That is more than the daily recommended sugar intake, plus an additional 160 calories.
While sugar-free beverages containing artificial sweeteners reduce sugar and calories, the body and brain’s response to these chemicals is unknown.
While natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, or stevia are acceptable substitutes, they are not calorie-free and are processed similarly to sugar by the body. Additionally, any nutrient benefits are negligible in such small amounts.
Consider the following: Reduce your sugar intake by requesting fewer syrup “pumps” and skipping the whipped cream on top. Alternatively, sweeten your beverage with a splash of naturally sweet almond milk or another nut milk, a few drops of vanilla or maple extract, or a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Whichever cappuccino, latte, mocha, or macchiato you prefer, it’s almost certainly made with whole milk, possibly sweetened condensed milk, and possibly whipped cream. While dairy milk contains calcium, protein, and vitamin D, choosing low- or nonfat varieties means consuming less fat, saturated fat, and calories.
While plant-based milks such as almond, soy, coconut, and oat milk (ask for unsweetened) are popular substitutes, they will not always be lower in fat and calories and, unless fortified, will likely be deficient in nutrients when compared to dairy milk.
Consider the following: Solicit a reduced or skim milk variety, occasionally referred to as a “skinny,” that is unsweetened and fortified. Avoid (or reduce) the whip.
Prepare in advance
There is no denying the coffeehouse’s allure — the menu, the aromas, the company — which can lead to an extravagant splurge. Avoid it by pre-planning your meal or ordering ahead online. The major retailers maintain online menus that include nutritional information and a variety of options ranging from size, sweetener, and milk type to add-ins such as cocoa and nutmeg and toppings.