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COMMENTS
BY Alyse

Coffee Culture

Coffee is much more than a beverage. With establishments all over the country, coffeehouses have become social hubs, as much a part of our everyday routine as checking our email and reading the news. Therefore, it is understandable that coffee has gone far beyond the basic brew to include specialty drinks that seem to require the understanding of another language to place an order.

NUTRITIONAL FACTS AND FIGURES

While we love the pick me up from a cup of coffee, its bitter taste makes it unbearable for many to drink it on its own. The many things that are added to balance the natural bitterness can result in decadent treats. Most people consider coffee as a snack; however, most coffee beverages actually contribute as much energy to your day as a meal. For example a Starbucks mocha frapuccino contributes more energy than most meals like a whole sandwich, chicken parmesan, wonton soup and turkey and stuffing. The problem: our body doesn’t recognize fluid calories as being as satisfying as solid food calories. For those of you that are checking in with your hunger and fullness cues, these beverages may not satisfy you but they will add to your daily intake.

Besides providing you with energy, the ingredients of coffee beverages (besides milk) have little to no nutrient content. Instead, they provide added sugar, artificial flavorings and colorings. If you’re hungry, go pick up a piece of fruit, cheese and crackers or one of your favorite snacks. Your body will be able to use these foods as quality sources of energy and nutrients and you will feel satisfied for longer and have the energy necessary to take on the day’s tasks.

Don’t worry you do not have to eliminate coffee entirely. It’s important to make educated decisions when it comes to your appetite and satisfaction. Below is a breakdown of the various types of coffees. When you order your favorite coffee, consider a smaller size (everything is super sized these days) and pair it with a food item (like fruit, cheese, or bread) to help satisfy you. Do not rush through your coffee beverage – sip and savor. You may drink even less if you take your time – listen to your body and you will know how much you need. Also, just like with food, do not go in with the expectation that you have to finish every last drop of your coffee drink to feel satisfied…you may be able to leave behind a good portion of it and not miss it at all!

Espresso

In an espresso based drink, the amount of added water is minimal. A medium size (16 oz) latte generally has 2 shots of espresso, or 3 ounces, leaving a LOT of room for steamed milk!

Drink Option: Try a cappuccino. A cappuccino has less milk than a latte along with a deep layer of foam. Already drink cappuccinos? Try switching to a macchiato (espresso with a small amount of foam).

Ice-Blended drinks

These blended coffee drinks often taste more like a milkshake then a traditional cup of joe. For instance, a Starbuck’s Java Chip Frappuccino is a blend of chocolate and java chips, milk, ice, and of course some coffee. The final touch is a topping of whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle. If ice-blended drinks are a must have ritual in your day, try the following:

Pass on the whip: By skipping the whipped cream topping with a drizzle of chocolate. Whipped cream and chocolate syrup is full of added sugar.
Skip the syrup: Espresso Frappuccino contains only espresso, milk and ice – no added sugars here. Get your sugar and caffeine from natural sources – milk and espresso.

Brewed Coffee

Not buying a fancy drink? Twenty years ago, the average cup of coffee was 8 oz. Today, it is double that. With double the coffee comes double the creamer and double the sugar. Adding your own sweetener and creamer lets you decide what you consume…or so you think.

Flavored Creamers: These non-dairy options are convenient for both the home and office and come in a variety of appealing flavors. While they appear to be both good alternatives you may be surprised at their ingredients. They are full of processed items – ingredients you would never have in your own kitchen or at a café.  Additionally, FDA guidelines allow products to be marketed as fat or trans fat free if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. Therefore, if you use two creamers per cup of coffee and have two cups of coffee per day, you would consume close to two grams of fat. As for trans fat, there is no established upper limit to clarify the amount that is safe to consume daily. Therefore, you want to avoid them altogether. If the label lists “partially hydrogenated oils” in the ingredients list, the product contains trans fat.

Dairy Products:  Whether full fat or low fat, dairy products tend to be the best way to add some flavor to your coffee. These products tend to have one ingredient: MILK.  If you don’t drink dairy, soy is a great option. Almond, rice, hemp and whole grain milks are also good options.

ALYSE’S ADVICE

If you enjoy drinking coffee, one to two cups per day with a dairy or non-dairy milk option is your best bet. If you are set on drinking a fancier blended or espresso drink, go down a size (large to medium or medium to small drink), pair a small coffee with a small snack, and sip and savor your beverage, do NOT just gulp it down!