Making the Joys of Coffee More Joyful

Here’s something I take for granted: My morning latte is healthy. Most people’s morning lattes/coffees are NOT healthy. All those saturated fats from 2% or whole milk or creamers…all those unnecessary added sugars from syrups and creamers…

STOP THE MADNESS!

I LOVE my morning coffee for many reasons:

  • It gives me that delightful caffeine boost. Like jumper cables to a dead car battery, my morning coffee breathes life into me and my protesting, groggy brain.
  • It tastes delightful. To me, drinking coffee should be an entirely pleasurable experience for the senses (though not at the expense of the waistline). Just the smell of coffee brewing perks me right up.
  • It’s chock full of those mysterious phytochemicals everyone is talking about. (Side note: Phytochemicals demystified: aka phytonutrients, these little guys are not vitamins or minerals. Rather, they’re chemicals found in plants that offer a host of health benefits. As of right now, researchers feel that eating plants in their whole form is the best way to get these guys into your system – there seems to be some cumulative benefits vs. eating phytochemicals in concentrated forms.)
  • According to Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, the spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, coffee helps increase cognitive function and may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • It’s just my coffee…not dessert for breakfast. It doesn’t break my calorie bank.

Photo by Billy Brown

I wish I could be cool like my dad and drink my coffee black. Being able to drink black coffee – and enjoy it – just strikes me as really badass (and it would help my wallet too). Sadly, that just isn’t going to happen for me any time soon.

So, for all you like me who can’t handle the taste of a plain cup of joe, let me teach you some tricks, based on Starbucks’ venti (large, 20 oz, whatever you call it) lattes. I chose venti because, quite frankly, anything smaller really isn’t enough espresso.

A Venti Vanilla Latte with…

  1. …Whole milk is 370 calories.(HOLY FISHTICKS, Batman…that’s like, 20% of my calories for the whole day, and I haven’t even EATEN anything yet!)
  2. …2% milk is 320 calories
  3. …Skim milk is 250 calories
  4. …Skim milk and half of the usual amount of vanilla is 210 calories (2.5 pumps of vanilla syrup)
  5. …Skim milk and ¼ of the usual amount of vanilla is 190 calories (1-ish pump of vanilla syrup)
  6. …Skim milk and no syrup is 170 calories (This is called a Caffé Latte and all the calories come from the nonfat milk!)

I consider 1 through 6 to be the “Latte Spectrum.” I long hovered around #3 (skim milk, full syrup) but now sit at #5. By the time Christmas rolls around, I hope to be at #6, the ultimate. (This would be almost as impressive as drinking black coffee.) It’s just caffeine and milk (protein and healthy deliciousness).

If you’re at number 2 right now, and work your way down to number 6, that’s 150 calories. 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year…that’s 37,500 calories and over ten pounds a year, just for taking your caffeine like a man instead of a six-year-old.

Crazy.

*Different coffee shops use different pumps for their syrups, making the “standard” number of pumps vary from place to place. The total amount of syrup remains the same, though. For example – the coffee shop I frequented at Ohio State used 8 pumps of vanilla instead of 5 because one of their pump was less than one Starbucks pump. To avoid the confusion, I always just order my syrup in terms of “half the syrup,” etc instead of in terms of “2.5 pumps.”

**I personally find the “extras” that are put on lattes to be unnecessary. No whipped cream, chocolate “curls,” or chocolate or caramel drizzle. If you are getting a hot drink, it’ll all just melt in and you won’t even know you paid for it. If it’s cold, you’ll probably end up using your straw as a spoon to eat it, which is totally unnecessary and messy.

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