How to maximize your coffee order

Kelly Burgess

Kelly Burgess

The atmosphere, the aroma, the buzz. Today, coffee doesn’t seem to mean just the brewed beverage to jump-start your day.

Coffee: time with friends, the thing before a “real date”, the only possible way to survive late night study sessions. The simple cup of coffee has suddenly become much more complex, socially and nutritionally

If you’re anything like me, sometimes walking into a coffee shop is just enough to trigger some mild apprehension, so many options and so many factors. How do you possibly decide on the perfect drink at any given moment? Do you choose by price (let’s be honest, we’re all on a budget), just what tastes good or by what’s “healthy”?

All of these factors usually lead to my extreme indecisiveness, blurting out something completely random to the cashier, and forgetting how to pronounce all the fancy words in the process.

Deciphering how to order the coffee you want can be a real challenge amongst foreign words, as well as brand and store specific terminology. At some point in the process of getting coffee, did it ever strike you that the complexity of ordering a drink might also allude to the complex nutritional factors about what is inside that three-dollar cup of joe?

As a fellow coffee lover, I want you to know some quick facts about your favorite coffee drinks.

Frozen blended beverages tend to be one of the options with the most calories and the most sugar. For example, a large Java Chip Frappuccino from Starbucks, with no whipped cream, will bring you to a total of 340 calories, and 62 grams of sugar.

Although it slides into the category of “coffee,” nutritionally, it comes out closer to being a milkshake. However, hot drinks are not exempt either.

A large White Chocolate Mocha will add 400 calories to your daily total. These numbers might not seem significant at first, but when put in the context of the reference 2,000 calories per day plan, the problem becomes more apparent.

So, what can you do? How do you enjoy life, casually sipping on your much-needed coffee, now that you know a little bit more about what is hidden underneath the whipped cream?

There are several easy ways to make sure you win every sip of the coffee game.

My favorite way to lighten up any of my favorite drinks is to simply ask for nonfat milk. As a general rule of thumb, nonfat milk will shave off almost a hundred calories from most of your favorite lattes, mochas and frozen blended drinks.

Another way to cut down on the added sugar total is to put in your own flavor instead. Most coffee spots have spices available for you to add yourself, like cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. These give you just as much flavor, but instead of sugar, provide extra health benefits through antioxidants. Especially for the fall season, spices add a nice twist even on plain coffee.

Speaking of plain coffee, why not go back to the basics and try the regular brew at your favorite coffee dive? Doing so will have your wallet thanking you, as well as your waistline. If you need a serious pick-me-up, remember that regular coffee has the most caffeine (other than espresso), and will do the trick better than anything. After all, coffee is still coffee, right?