"You having anything to eat? a piece of cake or a bun?"
"No, I'm going to stick to the coffee, I'm trying to be good."
Its a familiar conversation overheard in local independent coffee shops and the big chains like Nero, Starbucks and Costa everyday of the year. It's a conversation I heard myself this weekend in the Cresent shopping centre in Limerick. The kicker here though was that whilst the second lady in the conversation was making a conscious decision to "be good", she then went on to order a new seasonal "bonfire spiced latte'. This led me to think a bit more about whats in the coffees that were are being served, and are we actually being fooled into ordering a high sugar, high calorie snack.
Hey, they look great. In fact whilst in the queue I changed my order from a regular cappuccino to a bonfire spiced latte, just to sample it. First things first, I would never add sugar to a hot drink, so to me the taste of the coffee was lost behind the syrup they had added to give it a seasonal flavour. It was pretty sickly sweet though, so I looked online to find the nutrition information. This coffee is only served in one size. Primo. In this serving there is 28.1g of sugar. Wait, how much?
There is 4g of sugar in a teaspoon, that means there is a little over 7 teaspoons in this cup of "coffee" I was now drinking. That is more than is in a can of Redbull.
I looked across the coffee shop as my little lad was playing with his Lego at the table, the lady in question was drinking her bonfire spiced latte, looking longingly at her friend who was drinking a large cup of tea and eating a slice of banana bread. She didn't realise that they were both consuming the same amount of sugar.
I think if we are to win the battle in Ireland against both tooth decay and obesity, then the chains that supply these drinks need to be a little more honest about what they are serving. People think they are making well-informed educated decisions about what they are eating and drinking, but they are getting it wrong. Companies are hiding their nutrition information online, but we need to see it up on the menu. If you know you are getting a glass full of dessert rather than a coffee then maybe the lady could have compensated for this by exercising a little harder, or a little longer, or changing her diet later on. Maybe she would have picked something else. My suspicion though is that she is going home delighted that she resisted the temptation to have a slice of cake.
The cost to the economy of the obesity epidemic, and the cost to the individual for extensive dental treatment as the result of a high sugar diet is not unsubstantial. I enjoyed the drink, it tastes great, but it isn't coffee, and it isn't fair to pedal it to unsuspecting customers as anything other than junk food.
Try this article for some more interesting comparisons https://www.eatthis.com/sugar-in-coffee-drinks/