Coffee orders are one of those things in life most of us don’t like to budge on. We like what we like, and yes, if you accidentally give us soy, we will send it back.
But what if you found out your choice caffeinated beverage is actually kind of bad for you? Would that dangerous information prompt you to throw your barista off guard just as they finally remembered your usual?
Maybe. Maybe not. But at least you’ll be informed.
It’s in this spirit of knowledge that we asked a dietitian to rank our favourite coffee orders from healthiest to unhealthy, separating the cream from the watered down dishwater.
“From a health perspective, research has repeatedly shown that drinking coffee can help to lower blood pressure, reduce blood fats and yes caffeine may even promote fat burning,” dietitian and author Susie Burrell tells Mamamia.
“What is important to remember is that these benefits come from the coffee, not the 200mls of milk, sugar and syrup many of us add to our coffee each day.”
So, here’s how your favourite stacks up. Deep breaths.
Best: Skim latte
For Burrell, ordering a small – we repeat, small – skim latte is a great nutritional choice.
“A skim latte is a good source of protein and calcium for just 100 calories,” she says, which obviously means you can get your caffeine hit AND one of those healthy looking protein balls, right? Right?
Next best thing: Unsweetened almond milk latte or flat white
"If you can't digest cow's milk, an unsweetened almond milk latte is the next best thing," Burrell explains.
She also identifies a flat white as a good option, coming in at around 120 calories and seven grams of fat depending on which milk you choose.
Also great: Long black or piccolo latte
While long blacks and piccolo lattes contain little to not fat due to their low or non-existent milk content, Burrell cautions not to fall into the sugar trap.
"Because these coffees don't contain milk, most people are more liekly to add sugar for taste, which will in turn increase your sugar uptake," she says.
In other words, try and enjoy the taste without a spoon or two of the sweet stuff.
Essentially, cappuccinos are your run of the mill coffee. Neither particularly bad or good, just... average.
"A cappuccino is slightly lower in calories than a latte or flat white at 110 calories and six grams of fat with full cream milk, but contains slightly lower calcium because of the milk/froth ratio," explains Burrell.
And as for the choccie powder on top? That won't reeeeallly hurt you either, nor will adding a couple of grams of sugar which is, as she puts it, "hardly negligible".
Not so good: Mocha or anything with a shot of vanilla/hazelnut/caramel
"A mocha contains significantly more carbohydrates and calories than the average coffee - it's like a latte plus an extra shot of chocolate syrup," she says.
She also advises adding a shot of anything flavoured "generally adds two to four teaspoons of sugar per serve". Ouch.
LISTEN: Mamamia Out Loud's recommendation for anyone who really loves coffee (post continues after audio...)
Really not so good: Chai Latte
Parading around as a 'healthy option', Burrell says chai lattes are anything but.
"The good old chai powder found at many coffee shops is packed with sugar. A small chai will give you 130 calories and two grams of fat, but an extra 20 grams or four teaspoons of sugar."
When you factor in the no caffeine part, suddenly it doesn't seem like such a great option.
What about the milk?
The main difference in types of milk is the overall fat and calorie content, Burrell explains.
"Full cream milk contains 10 grams of fat per serve, while low fat or skim has less than one gram plus a whole range of nutrients including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein and potassium. However a bit of extra fat can also help to keep your full."
For those who can't stomach cow's milk, Burrell advises soy milk is the most nutritionally sound choice over alternatives like almond, coconut and macadamia milk.
"Soy milk has a similar fat amount [to cow's milk] coming from plant sources, and also contains a range of nutrients including protein and fortified vitamins and minerals. While nut milks are actually low in calories, they're also low in protein and don't offer the wide range of nutrients dairy and soy milks do. Unless someone has an intolerance or preference to avoid dairy, stick to soy."
Go forth and do what you will with this information. After all, knowledge is power, meaning we have the power to completely disregard this and order a vanilla coconut milk cappuccino if we want.