Monday, February 2, 2009

Starbucks: The Right Way

In times as lean as these, it's hard to believe I'm still a loyal Starbucks fanatic. To those who say "Come on, $3 for a cup of coffee is such a rip-off!" I still say, "Actually, it's $2.73--tax included." In fact, Starbucks' costliness was precisely the reason I asked my friends to solely buy me Starbucks gift cards for Christmas. And armed with several of these cards, I'm ready to resume my habit.

There may be a lot of calories hiding behind the mermaid's smile. Photo by Alice Gao.

But Starbucks is one tricky fella. Of course I knew that a caffe latte every day couldn't be good for you. But like most people I never thought to look up the nutrition facts. Turns out I'd been ingesting 150 cals almost every day.

What's the most caloric Starbucks beverage? A venti Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with whipped cream at a whopping 720 calories. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that's 36% of your suggested daily intake.

So what if you want to indulge, but not to a ridiculous degree? First, you can stick with coffee . . . and their "tall" size. Starbucks actually carries a "short" size, which holds eight ounces, but I've never heard anyone request it. A tall cup of coffee contains only 5 calories, and a tall Caffe Americano contains only ten. Their variety of teas, including their iced teas, contain between zero and just five.

But personally I don't frequent Starbucks to buy coffee I could brew in my dorm, so I was more interested in the content of their specialty drinks. Cappuccinos are a good way to go, at only 90 calories per tall cup. The Coffee Frappuccino Light has only 90 calories and the Expresso version contains only 80, but make sure you specify that you want the "light" version--their regular counterparts have almost 200 calories.

If you love Starbucks' lattes but want to watch your calorie intake, non-fat milk is the way to go. The skinny lattes ("skinny" specifies the substitution of skim milk) come in Vanilla, Caramel, or Hazelnut and all only contain 90 calories per tall cup.

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