Working for myself I tend to work long, irregular and often unsociable hours, however, the major perk is I do have a degree of flexibility as to when I put these hours in. So as the sun shone down on us all last week I decided to take my office outside and have a coffee al fresco! In fact it was doing this that inspired this blog! I live and work quite close to a Costa Coffee (sadly there is no local café for me to support) so I often pop across when productivity is low and a change of scenery is in need. Once the summer arrived I noticed that they introduced a huge range of iced drinks and coolers to entice hot and bothered customers. In fact I must admit I have become quite partial to their Green Tea, Mint and Lime Cooler.

Having dragged myself reluctantly out of bed at 6.30am to hit the gym on the day in question I was hesitant to undo my good work by loading up on sugars and unwanted, unhealthy calories.  As I stood waiting to place an order I became curious as to the exact calorific content of this yummy cooler and their creamier counterparts none of which were labeled on the main menu board. I did ask the poor barista on duty which iced option was the healthiest but got the distinct impression she was blagging so decided to do some more research…over a coffee of course!

While Costa Coffee do not label calories on their coffee menu they do have a brilliant nutritional guide over at where you can pick your drink of choice in great detail including additives and size to get an exact nutritional content. I did also tweet them to ask if they had plans to add their nutritional content to their drinks and they got back to me very fast with a response telling me I could find this info on the counter and right enough it was there… albeit on the wrong side of the till (ie in the area I wait for my coffee after ordering it!).

Tweeting @CostaCoffee

Still this is a positive step and one can’t accuse them of being in any way misleading. I wasn’t too shocked to find that my favourite cooler in the Medium size A.K.A Medio in-house brings with it 213 Kcals granted with little to no fat (0.1g) but there is a whopping 50.9g of sugar! I decided to check out all of their “Over Ice” and “Blended Drinks” for the worst offender and the best. I used the size medium as a comparison across the board and where milk was part of the drink I selected the full fat option.

The Worst – Raspberry & White Chocolate: As the name probably indicates this is a combination of cream, chocolate and sugar bringing with it 567kcals for a medium drink with 23g of Fat (of which 14.5g saturated) and 74.7g Sugar. Thankfully this drink is not available in a larger size and I am guessing/hoping this is because of the nutritional content of the drink.

The Best – Iced Cappuccino: This brings with it 111kcals with only 2.9g of Fat (of which 1.7g saturated) but sadly s very high sugar content of 17.9g. This is a bug bear of mine as Costa Coffee add syrups to ALL of their iced coffee options making them far less healthy than their hot alternative and something many people may not be aware of until after they order and taste the drink. As someone who does not add sugar to my drinks usually this seems completely unnecessary and tastes really off-putting.

Fruit Coolers v Iced Coffee

So what did I have? Well I actually ordered off menu and went for an Iced Americano without syrup. Based on the hot equivalent this has about 8kcals, 0.3g fat and 0.5g of sugar but still very refreshing and enjoyable all the same.

On a bit of a mission I then decided to check out Starbucks, the creator and home of the Frappuccino and examine their iced drinks menu. Now they label everything in store on the main menu board so it’s an easier task when choosing your poison but they also have a handy link here: Unlike Costa coffee however you can order many of their iced drinks in a large A.K.A Venti in-house and it makes for scary reading the calorific and particularly the fat and sugar content packed into some of their drinks. However to make it a fair comparison I also chose a menu favourite of mine and then the lowest calorie and highest calorie option in the medium size, again made with full fat milk where relevant and with whipped cream topping if available!

My choice – Red Berry Yoghurt Frappuccino: Do not be fooled by the word yoghurt here! This medium drink brings with it 281kcals with 2.8g fat (of1.8g saturated) and a whopping 55.3g of sugar.

Yoghurt Frappuccino

The Worst – Mocha Cookie Frappuccino: This drink has 562kcals with 21g of fat (of which 10.1g saturated) and 80.8g of sugar.

The Best – Iced Coffee: This comes in at a measly 4kcals with 0.1g fat and 0g of sugar and you don’t have to ask them to hold the syrup as it is not their policy to add syrup unless asked!

So I guess my point in all of this is to get people to think before they drink. Going for a coffee is not so innocent anymore and if you add a treat on the side you may be filling up on a toxic combo of sugars and fats. The World Health Organization recently dropped the RDA for sugar from 10% to 5 % of your daily calorie intake. For a person with a normal BMI that works out at around 25g of sugar. The worst offender had over 3 times that in one medium sized drink – its food for thought if you excuse the pun. Now if you are a trainer you may well be aware of this but are your clients? As I sat outside in Costa Coffee 5 of the 6 adjacent tables to me had at least one person sipping on one of these iced options. I just wonder if they knew what they were drinking…