Shock News……. Hot Drinks with Chocolate and Flavoured Syrups Contain lots of Sugar!

This week the papers have been full of the amount of sugar in some of the drinks served up in coffee shops, with the worst offender being the Starbucks Hot Mulled Fruit-grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon venti.

It’s no coincidence that this survey should come out at the same time as the UK government was deciding whether to introduce a sugar tax. The Action on Sugar organisation had full coverage from it.

Reading the headlines you would be forgiven for thinking that coffee shops are responsible for the nation’s obesity issues, but when you look at the list of the 131 drinks they surveyed coffee or tea is not mentioned, with the exception of a Costa Primo cinnamon or vanilla latte.

In the fight to gain new customers who don’t drink coffee or look for something new and exiting the coffee chains are stretching the core range with more sweeter beverages that attract a younger customer, and, shock horror, the people who don’t actually like coffee

Coffee shops don’t need to display the calorie information of their drinks, so the consumer is in the dark. There is also the classification of sugar as well, in terms of added sugar or free sugar. Free sugar is naturally occurring and added sugar is as it suggests added, but it could be classed as added sugar, if a product with free sugar is added to another to sweeten it.

Most people mistakenly assume, as we did before researching for this article, that by choosing the skimmed milk option they would be cutting down on sugar, but skimmed milk actually contains far more sugar in the form of lactose than full fat milk!

So what can we do as Independent Coffee Shop Owners?

An espresso or black coffee has no sugar, and we should stock a range of sugar free syrups, also offering alternative milks such as soy or coconut is one way, but if a guest wants a certain type of drink we should prepare it rather than give health advice!


After all the Barista is already under criticism in some quarters for being a purist who looks down their nose at anyone who orders anything but espresso, and woe betide if you are on the phone while ordering, worth a watch…

With apologies to the Archies 1969 hit Sugar Sugar

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