Love it or loathe it, coffee shop culture is here to stay. And from experience, rugby players tend to be in the “love it” camp. Coffee shops seem to have taken over many high streets, be they artisanal hipster joints or your boggo standard chain. The majority of us, however, will get a lot of our caffeine fix from one of the big two, Costa and Starbucks.
But when you visit one of these places, have you ever wondered just exactly what you’re drinking and eating, and what the healthiest choices are?
Starbucks has recently come under fire from nutrition groups and even its own workers unions for offering drinks that are high in calories, fat and sugar.
While Starbucks nutrition facts can be found online, they are not something that the company is too keen to discuss.
Published Starbucks nutrition facts would shock many of the company’s regular customers.
Consider the following:
The hugely popular Grande Latte contains 260 calories, The Grande White Mocha has 510 calories and 24 grams of fat, while something more outlandish like a Venti Banana Coconut Frappuccino contains 730 calories, 170 more than a McDonald’s Big Mac!
In fact, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest in the US claims that drinking one large Frappuccino is the equivalent of consuming two Quarter Pounder burgers from McDonald’s. WTF!
Considering the public scrutiny McDonald’s has undergone in recent years for its menu choices, these Starbucks nutrition facts have gone relatively under the radar.
The company’s food offerings don’t fare much better in terms of their nutritional content.
Their popular Cranberry Bliss Bar contains 18 grams of fat, their Espresso Brownie has 21 grams of fat, and their Butterscotch Pecan Scone weighs in at 520 calories and 27 grams of fat.
It is no wonder then that Starbucks nutritional facts aren’t on public display in stores.
Would you still order a ‘light breakfast’ of a Grande Chai Latte and Blueberry Scone if you knew what it contained?
But, Starbucks nutrition facts aren’t all bad. With the option to order low fat milk, no whipped cream and a smaller size, not every drink is guaranteed to add to your waistline.
The Caffe Americano has just 16 calories and the Cappuccino with low-fat milk has only 135 calories.
The company also offers soy-based drinks, which can benefit your health.
But, these are often not listed on the menu and require the customer to specifically ask for them.
Thus, the important thing is to be aware as a relatively health conscious rugby player is to know what your options are and know what you’re putting into your body.
The same advice goes largely for Costa.
Be sensible when ordering your coffee and try to stay away from anything with whipped cream or added syrup.
As for the food on offer at Costa, again this largely comes down to common sense but even I, as a self-confessed fat git, am surprised by how much fat and calories are contained in their cakey treats.
Go for pretty much any of their standard muffins or tray bakes and you’ll be taking on around 500 largely useless calories and up to 30g of fat.
Meanwhile, if you do need to grab lunch on the go from Costa, your very best bet is something like the Chicken and Roast Red Pepper Panini, which has just 7.6g of fat.
Compare that with a Mozzarella and Tomato Panini, which has 18.1g of fat. I know what you’re thinking - 'but cheese tastes so good!'
Agreed, but it is still good to keep in mind these large variations as they can make all the difference if you are trying to get or stay lean.
Ultimately, we all love coffee, but it is worthwhile being aware of how the calories in the lattes and cappuccinos (cappucini?) we drink can mount up, particularly when matched with “just a little treat”.
The overall advice would be to keep it simple - order the smallest size of coffee with either full fat or semi-skimmed milk, avoid all the crappy whipped cream and syrups and, if you do need something sweet to go along with it, try to opt for something like the Costa Fruity Flapjack.
It still contains 15.7g of fat and of course is laden with sugar but you will be putting at least some useful fuel into your body via the oats and the fruit.
And if you are getting lunch in Starbucks or Costa, primarily we would advise re-thinking your choice but, if you must grab a sandwich, mind the cheese!