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Specialty Coffee

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

Practically the first thing I do after I arise is rinse the coffee pot, empty out the old soggy grounds, replace the filter, measure the appropriate number of fresh scoops, refill the water reservoir and wait not-so-patiently for the gurgly sounds of brewing to end.

Yes, for me the best part of waking up is Maxwell House Lite in my cup!

Starbuck's Coffee In fact I am drinking a mug as I write this column.

It's a good bet many of you are doing the same thing. The National Coffee Association says five out of 10 adult Americans drink coffee every day -- that's 107 million daily drinkers!

Another one-in-four, or 57 million more adults, drink coffee occasionally.

In other words, many of you have bean there, done that!

My attention perked up when I read that the average coffee drinker sucks up 3.3 cups of coffee per day. And the average coffee cup size is 9 ounces.

Black coffee has helped many a dieter stay the course. A steamy serving quells your hunger without adding a single calorie to your daily intake. It's when we begin jazzing up our java that we get in trouble.

I know half-and-half contains 40 calories and 3 grams of fat per TWO TABLESPOON serving, yet I cannot enjoy my morning coffee without an unhealthy serving of it!

The fancy, frothy drinks whipped up at your local coffee shop are worse... much worse.

In the image that graces the picture version of this Worst of the Worst Foods newsletter, eDiets staffer Nick Dominguez sips a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino from Starbucks. The creamy concoction contains coffee, chocolate and coconut flakes blended with ice, topped with whipped cream, mocha syrup and coconut flakes.

A 16-ounce serving (the medium-sized offering) packs 390 calories and 20 grams of fat, according to a Starbucks spokesperson. I had to phone Customer Service (1-800-235-2883) to get those numbers. The fact that Starbucks won't easily part with its nutritional info tells me they'd rather keep the consumer in the dark. I tried to get a general rundown of the many drinks offered at the many Starbucks franchises, but was told they can only provide me with the numbers for specific menu choices. The person I spoke to did hint that the Starbucks website -- -- may one day provide the numbers. Don't hold your breath. Note: "Nutrition Information" is now available at

For the nutritional info on your favorite Dunkin' Donuts drinks and eats go to

While I had a living, breathing person on the phone, I also asked about the Iced Caramel Macchiato (250 calories, 9 grams of fat), the Caffe Mocha Espresso (370 calories, 21 grams of fat) and the frozen summertime special Creme Frappuccino ( 470 calories and 17 grams of fat).

It's easy to see how one or two of these treats a day can doom any diet. But don't despair. You can have your coffee and drink it too. Rewarding yourself with a high-cal specialty coffee every once in a while is okay. Life without goodies like this would be plain boring. And it's a proven fact that deprivation does not make for a diet that works.

eDiets director of nutrition Susan Burke notes: "The secret of keeping healthy and at your goal weight is making healthy choices wherever you go. You can make healthy choices even in coffee drinks. Lower the fat by requesting nonfat or low-fat milk. Control the amount of sugar by requesting non-sweetened drinks, or add your own sugar or artificial sweetener if you prefer."

Good advice. But then, what would expect from the women who oversees the diet plan for the world's number one online weight loss program?

A while back Susan wrote this eye-opening featurette for one of our many info-packed newsletters:

Coffee, in moderation, is fine. There is nothing wrong with a little cream and sugar (again, moderation in all things!) However, one of the fatty Coolatta coffee drinks served up by Dunkin' Donuts has over 400 calories, 22 grams of fat and 14 grams of saturated fat! That’s as much as a Quarter Pounder or two chocolate frosted donuts.

Don't forget the 50 grams of sugar per serving -- that’s about 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar! To add insult to injury: you’ll also get 75 milligrams of cholesterol from the cream. Portion size counts! If you order a large drink, just think... you are getting a lot more calories, sugar and fat!

Instead of a frozen coffee drink with over 400 calories and 22 grams of fat, not to mention all the added sugar, order a large iced coffee with nonfat or 1% milk, and sweeten with two packets of sugar for about 180 calories and no fat. Each teaspoon of sugar adds about 16 calories. An iced coffee with milk gives you an added bonus of 60% of your daily value for calcium and 20% of your daily value for vitamin A.

If you like a “creamier” drink, order iced coffee with 2% milk. For 240 calories and 2 grams of fat, it’s still a much better bargain for your health. When you make healthy choices wherever you go, you can easily reach your healthy weight and stay there.

Thank you Susan. Yes, it's a good time to stop and smell the coffee my friends. Studies show only 35% of coffee drinkers prefer their coffee black, while 62% add a sweetener and/or creaming agent. With that in mind, here is more eye-opening insight from the eDiets archives.

Lose Weight On Your Coffee Break

While many experienced dieters know coffee is fair game on a weight-loss plan, the rules have changed since designer coffee bars have had their way with regular java. If your morning ritual involves a stop at the local coffee chain, you could be getting a slew of unwanted calories and fat grams. To help you keep losing without giving up that cup of joe, we’ve identified five common coffee-bar diet dangers and provided some satisfying alternatives:

1. Specialty Drinks
If it sounds indulgent, theres a good chance that it is. For example, a 12-ounce cup of the ever-popular Starbuck Caramel Macchiato packs 254 calories and 8 grams of fat, while a typical cafe mocha with whipped cream has 340 calories and 21 grams of fat. Even a hot chocolate or latte made with whole milk and topped off with whipped cream tips the scale.

Better bets: A 12-ounce latte with fat-free milk still packs 161 calories, so choose a nonfat cappuccino and you’ll cut that number down to 110 calories. Why not go back to the basics with a classic cup of brewed coffee and fat-free milk?

2. Trendy Tea
Tea certainly sounds like a healthier option and in most cases, it is. But order a Chai Tea Latte (a blend of black tea, spices and in some cases, sugar) and youll get a hefty dose of more than 200 calories along with those nutrients and antioxidants (even if you request fat-free milk).

Better bets: Stick with a cup of soothing herbal tea, or the more traditional black or green tea. Simply flavor with lemon or a splash of fat-free milk.

3. Syrups and Toppers
Opt for a vanilla nonfat latte over a regular nonfat latte and youre adding about 75 calories. Why the jump? Each shot of vanilla, amaretto or hazelnut flavoring adds from 65 to 75 calories. Top that off with some whipped cream and youll get a whopping 150 calories and 12 grams of fat.

Better bets: Go with the least number of bells and whistles -- you’ll also make things easier on those overworked coffee shop counterworkers during rush hour too.

4. Self-Serve Add-Ins
A few teaspoons of sugar can tack on 50 calories or more to your coffee (powdered cocoa and natural sugar contribute a similar number). Definitely skip the half-and-half and whole milk.

Better bets: If you must sweeten or flavor your drink, use an artificial sweetener, or a dash of more festive nutmeg or cinnamon, and you’ll get fewer calories.

5. Sweets and Treats
Most coffee houses stock plenty of pastries, muffins and donuts for dunking. And some have enough calories and fat to replace a meal and a half! For instance, a piece of Starbucks Blueberry Crumb Cake packs a staggering 800 calories and 38 grams of fat. Even the chains Maple Oat-Nut Scone (which sounds healthier) has 570 calories and 29 grams of fat. Make a Krispy Kreme donut your sidekick and supply another 210 calories and 12 grams fat. Even a low-fat muffin can have upwards of 300 calories, if its loaded with sugar. The Starbucks banana and nut muffin pads your waistline with 230 calories and 2 grams of fat.

Better bet: Enjoy your beverage by itself, or choose biscotti, which are naturally lower in fat and calories than other sweet treats. A small piece of angel food cake or a fat-free, sugar-free muffin will also do less diet damage.

Worried that you are downing too much coffee a day? Health experts say as long as you keep it in moderation (about 250 milligrams or two 8-ounce cups a day), it’s probably safe to enjoy that java.

Signs you are overdoing it: dizziness, insomnia, shakiness and gastrointestinal problems. Nervousness, anxiety and rapid heartbeat can strike the more caffeine-sensitive drinker.


Hi John, Have you checked out Taco Bell's new rice dish with the steak asada -- looks like lots of fat? If you have let me know. Somehow you can describe it so well that if it is a "worst" dish I don't even get tempted. Thanks,

Well Tina, according to the official Taco Bell website ( the 15.5-ounce Southwest Steak Bowl has 660 calories, 33 grams of fat (51% of your daily recommended intake) 9 grams saturated fat (45%), 60mg cholesterol (20%), 2,160mg sodium (90%), 66 grams carbs (22%), 12 grams fiber (48%), 3 grams sugar and 28 grams protein.

Dear John,
One day my husband wanted to grab a quick bite. I suggested that we try Burger King since they offer the veggie burger. All I can say is don't waste your money! I wouldn't get it again. Not when I can buy veggie burger patties at the store that I can barely tell are not 100% beef. This thing looked as if they took leftover french fries and mushed them into a patty. And instead of loading it up with healthy lettuce and tomato, they short-change you on that!!! I wasn't very pleased. I did eat it, but only because I was hungry. I was really surprised at how crummy the BK Veggie Whopper was.
I hope that this is printed so others can read and not be as dissatisfied as I was. However if someone would like to take their chances and try it ask for extra lettuce and tomatoes and tell them to put mustard instead of mayo. I can say at least they're trying to broaden their menu to please the public taste buds. It's a step in the right direction I think.


Thanks for writing Ramona. For all you readers wondering just how healthy this veggie burger is, I checked out the official Burger King website ( and discovered the sandwich has 360 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 850mg sodium, 46 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar and 13 grams protein. HINT: Ask for mustard instead of the mayo-based sauce and you'll bypass a lot of the fat.


I feel the obesity problem in America will have to be "solved" through education rather than be enforced in some way that questions our rights to choose. I'm still 18 and I have never been overweight, but I used to eat mindlessly without giving adequate thought to what I was shoving in my mouth. Being young, I "got away with it" and never felt uncomfortable with my body, but coming from a family whose history is full of diabetes (developed later in life) obesity, cancer and heart problems, I'm glad that I have become increasingly aware of different foods and their healthier alternatives. My metabolism will certainly begin to slow down and had my bad eating habits continued, they may have affected me later in life, especially since my genetics indicate I'm an easy target. I think more effort needs to be made in this country to provide the information some never take the initiative to seek on their own about food, especially fast food and restaurant food. While glowing yellow McDonald's arches and Chili's baby back ribs ads may be bombarded at us daily, making our mouths water, there is very little in-your-face information about nutrition and few bother to seek the discreet information there is. We need a serious increase in education, beginning from a young age, and something a little more informative than a poster of the food pyramid in the nurse's office please!
Name Withheld

I love reading about the "Worst Foods" just so I can laugh at how gullible people are for eating/buying this stuff! I mean really, with over half the population overweight, Type 2 diabetes on the rise in adults AND CHILDREN -- what are people thinking when they buy this stuff? I am a working mother with a child and I wouldn't serve any of this junk. Whatever happened to steamed vegetables and fresh fruit? I prepare both nightly and it's EXTREMELY EASY.
My daughter eats at McDonald's about twice a year and that's a BIG treat. I can't feel sorry for people who are overweight and care little about nutrition. Yes, it's hard when you work and have to put a meal together but it can be done. We've just gotten used to eating simple healthy meals (my 7-year-old daughter loves to eat salad) and we remain healthy and at a good weight. I don't buy cookies, ice cream, or any other junk food. My daughter has never even had a Twinkie. No, I am not a mean mother. She doesn't know the difference. When she's at a friend's house and she gets something like that she's thrilled. I don't take her grocery shopping with me for that very reason.
I realize I'm probably considered a "nutcase" but at least I won't have to worry about heart disease and diabetes and neither will my child.

Meg Fullem


Susan Gahagan writes: Here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting medical studies!

--The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

--The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

--The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

--The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you!

Until next week, the kitchen is closed. But if you have any questions and/or comments -- or a tasteful joke to share -- feel free to write me, eDiets editor-in-chief John McGran, at

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