Sugar in coffee, be afraid be very afraid!

by Jack Foster March 11, 2016

Sugar in coffee, be afraid be very afraid!

Greetings fellow coffee fanatics, you may have seen a report in the news recently regarding the high sugar content of some drinks available on the high street. The key culprits mentioned in the article where Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero.

costa, nero, pret and starbucks all the culprits for sugar based drinks on the high street

 The key point of the article was that there’s upwards of 15 teaspoons of sugar in the drinks they have available. That’s a similar sugar content to a can of coke, which we all know is very bad for you; if you consume multiple cans a day. What the article failed to really highlight in my opinion is that the drinks they had tested for sugar content are not your standard espresso and milk concoctions. It was more syrup, whipped cream caramel sauce and chocolate sprinkles type beverages. Mocha’s and iced milkshakes for example.

The article included a case study of a chap who’s regular caffeine fix was a large white cafe mocha with caramel and vanilla syrup, cream on top, caramel and chocolate drizzle and after drinking this 3 times a day for almost a year he wasn’t in the best of health to say the least. Now I’m no expert… But I’m fairly confident that coffee and milk had a minor role to play in the detrimental effects on his health. I’ll leave that one up to you.

So what’s the issue? Is there sugar in a black coffee? How about a Latte? Fear not my friends let’s look into this.

Coffee in its rawest form contains 0 grams of sugar. When roasted and extracted into espresso it contains 0grams of sugar. So espresso and black coffee drinkers rejoice!

All Milk contains some sugar. The amount of this can vary between different milks depending on their fat content.  Full fat or “blue” milk contains around 4-5 grams of sugar per 100 grams of milk, but don’t forget this is not added in, it is naturally occurring lactose.

Skimmed milk or “red“ milk has twice the amount of sugar as full fat (8-10 grams per 100g milk) When you take out the fat, you add sugar to make up for it. This is one to think about if ordering “skinny” drinks for weight loss purposes.

Now we know there’s no sugar in the espresso and we know there’s a relatively small amount of natural sugar in the milk. Therefore I’d say it was safe to assume that there’s not 15 teaspoons of sugar in a latte. Unless of course you choose so!  

My best advice would be if you’re worried about your daily intake of sugar, don’t add it in to anything. Avoid syrups (or use sugar free syrup) and chocolate sauce, save them for a treat!

snickers mocha with cream contains lots of sugar  Raspberry mocha with cream contains lots of sugar

But what do I know?  I’m just a barista.

Thanks for reading.


By Michael Jaeger

Jack Foster
Jack Foster


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