Rethinking that cup of java

14 May 2005

A trip to Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or another coffee bar is a must for many us before heading to work. Fact is 81% of Canadians drink coffee occasionally and over 63% of Canadians over the age of 18 drink coffee on a daily basis, according to a study by the Coffee Association of Canada. Canadian coffee drinkers drink an average of 2.6 cups of coffee per day. Coffee bars have sprung up on almost every street corner, satisfying distinctive tastes. At Tim Hortons it’s a medium double double for everyday folk, for those with cash to spare, it’s a grande caramel macchiato, or a tall latte, at Starbucks.  Sounds great, but it may come as a surprise that your morning coffee or afternoon pick me up, may be the equivalent of eating at McDonald’s.

A quick surf on the internet will provide nutritional information on many restaurants and coffee bars. At Starbucks, a grande latte (16 oz) contains 260 calories, 14g of fat. That cup of coffee has more calories and fat content than a hamburger at McDonald’s, (250 cal, 8g of fat). A grande, caffe vanilla frappuccino, blended coffee  with whipped cream, great for an afternoon treat, contains 470 calories, 16g of fat.  It has the same number of calories as a McChicken Sandwich. Just one more…a grande caramel chocolate frappucino blended crème, topped with whipped cream contains a whopping 590 calories, 19 g of fat, beating out the Big Mac at 530 calories.

On the other side of the street Tim Hortons’ French Vanilla cappucino, weighs in at 250 calories, 8g of fat, same calorie content as a McDonald’s hamburger. A large double double, contains 156 calories. Throw in a raisin bran muffin at 380 calories and you’ve just had the calorie equivalent of a Big Mac for breakfast.

Don’t despair.  You can still enjoy that specialty coffee, the same way you enjoy a trip to McDonald’s.  With all the media hype about trans fat, saturated fats, and empty calories, we have learned to filter through fast food items, ordering the lower fat alternatives, the salads, grilled chicken, hold the mayo, dressing on the side. The same choices can be made when ordering your coffee.

Instead of the grande latte, go for a tall, non fat latte, 120 calories instead of 260.  Choosing non fat, skim or 2% milk makes a big difference in calorie content, as well as choosing smaller sizes. Remember that caramel chocolate frappucino? The tall, non fat version without the whipped cream is 330 calories instead of 590. At Tim Hortons, order a large regular (one cream, one sugar) instead of a double double. It cuts the calorie content in half. Skip the muffin and grab a banana instead.

Be a conscious consumer. Visit the websites of your favourite coffee bars and check the nutritional content. Over time these calorie choices add up. Enjoy your java!

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