Ordering Healthy Drinks at the Coffee Shop

Families, Food and Fitness November 19, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you. Check the Web site or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to find out how many calories are in different menu items. And when a smoothie or coffee craving kicks in, here are some tips to help minimize the caloric damage:


picture of coffee in a cup


  • Request that your drink be made with fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole milk
  • Order the smallest size available.
  • Forgo the extra flavoring. The flavored syrups used in coffee shops, such as vanilla or hazelnut, are sweetened with sugar and will add calories to your drink.
  • Skip the whip. The whipped cream on top of coffee drinks adds calories and fat.
  • Get back to basics. Order a plain cup of coffee with fat-free milk and artificial sweetener, or drink it black.
  • Many coffee shops offer a good variety of teas, green tea included, which can offer a nice taste and still be a healthy choice.

At the smoothie stand:

  • Order a child’s size if available.
  • Ask to see the nutrition information for each type of smoothie, and pick the smoothie with the fewest calories.
  • Hold the sugar. Many smoothies contain added sugar in addition to the sugar naturally in fruit, juice, or yogurt. Ask that your smoothie be prepared without added sugar: the fruit is naturally sweet.


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.