Re-Think Your Coffee Shop Drink

PR27358-1526x2289If you are considering a health-related New Year’s resolution take a look your favorite coffee shop beverage. Coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies sound harmless but what’s in them might surprise you. We are not focusing on money this week, but a $4 a day beverage habit costs you almost $1,500 in a year!

The three ingredients we are most concerned about with beverages are caffeine, sugar and fat.

Caffeine  For most people, 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day (the amount in 1 ½ to 3 cups of coffee, 4-6 cups of tea or 4-8 cups of soft drink) won’t cause negative effects. The exceptions are pregnant women who should use caffeine sparingly and breast-feeding women who should avoid caffeine, as it can pass into breast milk.

If you feel you are consuming too much caffeine and are experiencing anxiety, nervousness and digestive problems, try these ideas to cut back your consumption:

  • Mix half regular and half decaf coffee.
  • Choose herbal teas.
  • Cut back on caffeinated sodas.

Sugar The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars a day and that men consume no more than nine.

To put that into context…

  • A twelve-ounce vanilla latte can have 33 grams (about 8 teaspoons) of sugar.
  • A medium chai tea latte can have 50 grams (about 13 teaspoons) of sugar.
  • A mango pineapple  smoothie has 47 grams (about 12 teaspoons) of sugar.
  • Plain coffee and tea have no sugar.

Fat  Plain coffee and tea do not contain fat, but many coffee beverages have a great deal of fat added. Here is some info to help you make the best decision for you:

  • If you choose a latte that includes one cup of whole milk you will be drinking 8 grams of fat. If your coffee shop adds whipped cream that will likely add another 8 grams of fat (based on an approximate coffee shop serving).
  • Choosing non-fat (skim) milk for your beverages adds high quality protein and calcium, which we need for bone health, without the added fat of whole milk and cream.

So what’s the bottom line?  Plain tea and coffee have very few calories. If you want to keep your beverage calorie intake very low, add non-fat (skim) milk and non-calorie sweetener to it yourself. If you prefer to have the coffee shop dress up your coffee for you, make sure you let them know your preferences. You can request skim milk and lower-sugar flavorings.

For more tips check out the suggestions at eXtension’s Ordering Healthy Drinks at the Coffee Shop.

Peggy Signature

How Much are you Paying for your Coffee?

PR27358-1526x228983% of Americans drink coffee according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey. That’s up from 78% last year and more than any other country in the world.

How much do we pay for coffee?  That is really hard to figure since:

1)  We drink different size cups and make it different strengths. It used to be a cup of coffee was 6oz. Now a cup of coffee is at least 8 ounces with mugs and to-go cups routinely being 12-18 ounces.

2)  There are many ways to make your coffee. Home-brewing gadgets and single-serve coffee makers are very popular, as are gourmet beans and coffeehouses.

3)  Coffee drink sales are increasing while drinking traditional coffee is dropping. Last year nearly 1/3 of US adults were drinking a gourmet coffee each day. This includes coffees such as lattes and espresso along with custom blends of exotic beans.

Liz Breuer, an ISU dietetics student, and I decided to compare prices. Check out the coffee prices we found in central Iowa.

Ounces per container  Cost Cost for 12 ounces One Coffee a day for a year
Brewed Coffee*
Cameron’s ground flavor coffee 12  $ 6.99  $ 0.41  $ 150.08
Cameron’s bulk coffee 12  $ 6.74  $ 0.40  $ 144.71
HyVee Whole Bean Coffee 12  $ 6.69  $ 0.39  $ 143.64
Starbucks ground coffee 12  $ 8.99  $ 0.53  $ 193.02
Dunkin Donuts Coffee 12  $ 7.38  $ 0.43  $ 158.45
Panera ground Coffee 12  $ 8.29  $ 0.49  $ 177.99
Folgers coffee flavored 11.5  $ 5.39  $ 0.32  $ 115.73
Folgers coffee plain (on sale) 33.9  $ 7.88  $ 0.17  $ 61.20
Single Serve
Cameron’s single serve 12 cups $7.49 12 K cups  $ 7.49  $ 0.62  $ 227.82
8 O’clock (Keurig) 12 K cup packs $6.99 12 K cups  $ 6.99  $ 0.58  $ 212.61
Green Mountain (Keurig) 12 K cup packs $8.29 12 K cups  $ 8.29  $ 0.61  $ 222.85
35 K cup assortment mail order including shipping 35 K cups  $ 27.99  $ 0.79  $ 288.35
Coffee by the Cup
Starbucks 12 oz. with one pump hazelnut 12  $ 1.77  $ 1.77 $ 646.05
  with three pumps hazelnut 12  $ 2.30  $ 2.30  $ 839.50
Casey’s gas station 12  $ 1.09  $ 1.09  $ 397.85
Panera^ 16  $ 1.99  $ 1.49  $ 543.85
Butterfinger Frappuccino^ 16  $ 4.35  $ 3.26  $ 1,189.90
* Costs calculated estimating 12 oz. of coffee would yield 17-12 ounces cup^ Costs calculated from 16 oz. price

I’m one of those 83% who drink coffee and I am especially fond of hazelnut flavored coffee. If I really want to splurge I have a skim milk latte. I admit I haven’t tried the other specialty coffees because I just can’t get past the cost and the calories.

According to the Mayo clinic, the health benefits of drinking coffee in moderate amounts outweighs the risks. However, added fat and sugar in some drinks can make them unhealthy.

If you want to know more about brewing and storing coffee, roasting types, or recipes check out the National Coffee Association’s web site.

Peggy Signature

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