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The Defilement of the Bean

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I just returned from grabbing my my morning coffee. I usually stop at Starbucks for a Venti Americano. I believe its a few shots of espresso and steaming hot water. I drink it black. The obese woman ahead of me exited the store, at 9am, with a Venti Gargantuan Iced White Mocha Chocolate Frapuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

What she was doing was neither drinking nor getting her morning cuppa. She was having dessert for breakfast. Okay, maybe I am not enough of a heathen. Maybe I am not passionate enough ala the Chocolates for Breakfast crowd. But I am! I endorse chocolate croissants and crepes with Nutella. Its just that the same person who would never consider eating chocolate croissants all day long doesn't hesitate making these sugary caffeinated dessert confections into a daily staple.

I have spent some time living in Europe. I am also a coffee snob. There are a few rules that I would like to suggest for Americans now that the "European Specialty" coffee culture has been accepted whole-heartedly into the American zeitgeist. This is of course an amalgam of my growing-up American culture (thanks Mom) and my experience with French, Dutch, German, Finnish, and even English caffee culture. My mother told me never to drink soda (pop) before lunch. Coke is not a breakfast drink. Water, milk, juice, coffee, and tea are typically breakfast drinks. My mother might make me a breakfast drink like Ovaltine, but in general there would not be a milkshake or a hot fudge sundae sitting on the breakfast table before going to school.

Here's the lowdown: The drink that our morning Starbucks friend feasted on suffers from the following nutritional content: The venti Coffee Frapuccino (24 oz) enjoys 405 morning calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat. Well, she might have had an iced venti Caramel Macchiato (24 oz) at 375 calories, 13.5 grams of fat, and 9 grams of staurated fat. At Au Bon Pain, the large Frozen Mocha-Blast (24 oz) has 480 calories. 4 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat. Bad? Well, the new Starbucks venti Tazoberry and Cream (24 oz) has 750 calories, 34.5 grams of fat, and 22.5 grams of saturated fat. Thats not the highest. Dunkin' Donuts has the award with the large Vanilla Bean Coolatta(32 oz): 880 calories, 34 grams of fat and 30 grams of saturated fat.

For a comparison (using a half-cup serving), Dreyer's/Edy's Dreamery has 260 calories, and 15 grams of fat, Häagen-Dazs has 270 calories and 18 grams of fat, and Ben & Jerry's World's Best has 250 calories and 16 grams of fat. Per serving of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, 3 servings per box: 360 calories, 11 grams of fat.

Black coffee has almost zero calories. Its one of the allowed beverages in the American Heart Association Diet. I just found this on the web:

In terms of trying to lose weight, giving up soft drinks instead of coffee is a smart move since soft drinks contain about 150 calories for 12 ounces while the same amount of black coffee (no sugar added) contains practically zero calories. However, coffee calories can easily rise up to 340 calories if we are talking about a "tall" (12-ounce) Caffe Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream. That?s like having a slice of chocolate cake or a cheeseburger in a coffee cup!

Morning coffee in Europe is invariably coffee with milk or coffee with creme. Sure, a cafe au lait, a cafe latte, a cappuccino. Perfect. In the U.S. we have always been a drip coffee sort of bunch. Yes, there is the sort, like me, who likes his coffee black. But some milk and sugar (er, soy and honey) is just fine. It should be enjoyed and be enjoyable.

In the afternoon, the latte is put aside, and the espresso is preferred. Milky coffees are reserved for the morning, with breakfast. I wish you luck with your coffee. In its purest form, its one of the less offensive habits. Enjoy!

Sep 05, 2002 10:15 AM